Rudiments are the scales and arpeggios of the drum kit. Put simply, they’re different sticking patterns that you need to learn and these will help you play more proficiently around the kit.
For example, a double stroke roll is a rudiment where you play two strokes with each hand, so:
- Right Right Left Left Right Right Left Left…
This normally gets abbreviated to:
- RR LL RR LL …
How many rudiments are there?
There are 26 drum kit rudiments in total, or 40 depending on who you speak to. In the States and Canada you would normally refer to 40 rudiments whereas in the UK and Europe it’s more common to refer to 26 rudiments. It’s really not worth worrying about and at beginner level we’re only going to look at the first 3 of them:
- Single Strokes
- Double Strokes
- Single Paradiddle
QUICK TIP: Did you know ‘para’ generally means single strokes and ‘diddle’ generally means double strokes on drums? So paradiddle means single strokes followed by double strokes, so RLRR LRLL. As you become more advance you might run in to the paradiddle-diddle – can you guess what that would be?
*Answer: RLRRLL LRLLRR
Simple Drum Rudiments
When you get started on the drums there are 3 essential rudiments you need to learn – the Single Stroke, the Double Stroke and the Single Paradiddle. This is what they look like written down. You can download a printable version of this as part of Sheet Music Pack 3:
It’s important that you practice rudiments as part of your daily practice routine and that doesn’t mean playing them once and then going on to play something more interesting!
To get good on the drums you need to build your muscle memory of rudiments and that comes from playing them again, and again, and again! Practice them to a metronome and time yourself – work on each rudiment for at least 2 minutes without stopping. Work on building clarity and good time keeping. Start at around 90bpm in 8th notes and work your way up from there. You also need to build in the coordination of using your feet while playing the rudiments. Have a go at all of the exercises in this section.
Want to learn the drums properly?
If you want to know more about reading drum music head over our Drum 101 site. A full structured training course and online drum lessons to get you started on the drum kit.