When you’re learning to play drums, you will inevitably hear about drum rudiments. Drum rudiments are essential, and learning and mastering them will help you improve as a drummer. Here, Woodland Hills, CA teacher Emerson W. breaks down what you need to know about rudiments.
Drum rudiments are to drumming as the alphabet is to language. They’re the foundation of the music you make as a drummer. Rudiments are small musical ideas that can be easily memorized.
When you’re learning, it’s important to pay close attention to the skeleton of the rudiment. The skeleton is the rudiment in its most basic form; the rhythm without the ornaments. For example, the skeleton of a five-stroke roll is four eighth notes. Once those four eighth notes are mastered, you can add the ornaments (rolls and accents.)
When learning a rudiment, pay close attention to which hand you use for each note—this is called sticking. Every rudiment has a specific sticking pattern.
The Percussive Arts Society has documented the 40 essential drum rudiments. Rudiments are necessary for endurance, agility, stretching, smooth movement around the drum set, accents, syncopation, and special effects.
Rudiments as Warm-Ups
Try to practice a rudiment for three to five minutes at a quick tempo. This will help you strengthen your wrists and forearms and increase your endurance. For some extra guidance, follow along with the video tutorial below!
Rudiments on a Drum Set
Adding rudiments to your music can enhance your drum skills. Rudiments allow drummers to move smoothly from one drum to the other at a very fast pace. You can play rudiment variations in endless combinations.
Rudiments in Marching Percussion
Rudiments are extremely useful for marching bands, and there is plenty of literature dedicated to marching-influenced rudimental drum solos. They allow drummers to play accents at unexpected times and create syncopation.
Rudimental snare drum solos are also very exciting and unique, which is why rudiments are found in a lot of classical music.
Books on Rudiments
Here are some books I recommend for percussionists:
- “The All-American Drummer” by Charley Wilcoxon
- “Rudimental Primer” by Mitchell Peters
- “Odd Meter Rudimental Studies” by Mitchell Peters
- “14 Modern Contest Solos for Snare Drum“
Drum rudiments help you develop endurance, agility, stretching, smooth movement around the drum set, accents, syncopation, and special effects.
Rudiments are crucial to your success as a drummer. Learn them, practice them, and most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!
Emerson W. teaches drum, guitar and percussion in Woodland Hills, CA. He is currently attending California State University Northridge working toward his Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance. Emerson has been teaching students since 2007. Learn more about Emerson W. here!
Photo by Josh May