Drumming Rudiments For Beginners

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If you’re new to drumming, you may be wondering where to start. Luckily, it’s very easy to get started as there are only a few basic fundamentals to all drumming. But you do need to learn, practice, and one day master them. This article will present the most popular drumming rudiments for beginners just starting out.

Those fundamentals come in the form of drum rudiments. Wikipedia says that in total, there are 850 rudiments. But in all honesty, that’s way beyond overkill. It would completely block most would-be drummers from ever continuing their practice.

There are 40 common drumming rudiments for beginners and they apply to all drummers, not just beginners. And even that is a little like overkill. Because most drumming comes from the most beginner friendly top 5 rudiments.

  1. The single-stroke roll,
  2. double-stroke roll,
  3. paradiddle,
  4. flam, and
  5. the closed roll.

These 5 rudiments are the fundamentals of all drumming. Everything you would ever play as a drummer is either a single hit, a double hit, flams, or closed rolls.

This does go a step further to include triple hits (with a single hand). But that too seems a little like overkill. Unless you were a dedicated rudimentary or marching-type drummer. Of course, you would then want to master all 4o of the common rudiments.

But as stated, these 5 rudiments cover most of the main drumming requirements.

Drumming Rudiments for Beginners – Sticking Vs Rudiments

To expand these top 5 rudiments, the best way is through:

  1. Various rolls  & lengths – (covered later in this article)
  2. Various sticking combinations

Expansion Through Various Rolls

Later in this article, we will expand upon the single and double-stroke roll. Into playing an exact number of hits within a roll. We begin with the 5-stroke roll. Which is formed from either 5 single strokes, or 2 right, 2 left, and 1 single stroke (to make 5 strokes). The 5-stroke roll can then be expanded into 9, 11, 13, 15, 7, and 19-stroke rolls using either single or double strokes.

Expansion Through Varius Sticking Combinations

There is a very good book that most intermediate and advanced drummers swear by. That book is Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone. Now I don’t want to upset the apple cart as most drummers will swear by this book. But, it too, from my perspective is a little overkill. But that’s only my personal opinion or preference.

That book, for the most part, is dedicated to variations on single and double strokes. For example, if a single stroke roll goes R, L, R, L. A double stroke roll uses RR, LL, RR, LL. Then Stick Control has approximately 24 exercises for about 10 pages. Full of variations of single and double strokes. But that rather reminds me of what Bruce Lee said, “I am not afraid of the man who has learned 10,000 punches. But I am deadly afraid of the man who as learned 1 punch and practiced it 10,000 times”

Now even my remarks here are somewhat based on that quote and I don’t mean to sound too harsh. Because the book goes into other reading material too, which in my view is where the value of that book lies. But having said that, the whole book is a fantastic book. It will help you to begin expanding your drumming rudiments without end. But the top 5 (or so) must come first.

I do still recommend that book to all beginners. Even if you spend the first year of your drumming practicing only 5-10 of the initial exercises. In fact, I recommend that in the beginning, you learn the top 5 rudiments and then expand on those. Through the first 10-20 exercises in the stick control book.

But remember the stick control book is a supplement. It’s a way to expand on your initial rudimentary practice so make the top 5 rudiments your priority. But for now, let’s go right to the beginning.

Single-Handed Drumming Stroke

One of the most important rudiments is the single stroke. This is a single hit on the drum with your dominant hand. To produce a proper single stroke, you should use the muscles in your forearm, along with your wrist.

For brevity, start by holding your stick close to the end. With about one inch of the stick poking out of your hand, near the wrist joint. Then strike the drum with a quick, downward motion. Remember to keep your wrist loose – if you grip the stick too much, you won’t be able to produce a clean stroke. You may want to read this How To Hold Sticks Drum Coach article to get to grips with holding the drumsticks.

This exercise can often be completely overlooked. And instead, most drummers move into single-stroke rolls and double-stroke rolls. Without giving the single stroke the attention it deserves. Having said that, like anything in drumming the single stroke (the way you hit a drum) is developed over time.

You should practice the single stroke with each hand until you feel comfortable.

The Single Stroke Roll

After practicing the single stroke, it’s time to move on to the single stroke roll. The single-stroke roll is one of the most basic drum rudiments. It forms the foundation for many more complex patterns. A single-stroke roll is a series of alternating strokes on the same (to begin with) drumhead.

To execute a single-stroke roll. Start by holding your sticks in each hand and placing them in the starting position. (see the How To Hold Sticks article). Then, use a consistent amount of pressure to strike the head with the stick. Starting with your dominant hand. Let the rebound of the stick on the drumhead carry the stick back to a perpendicular (90%) position.

Then do the same with your other hand. Alternate between right and left strokes. Making sure that each stroke is even and consistent. With practice, you will be able to control the speed and dynamics of your single-stroke rolls. and you’ll make them an essential part of your drumming arsenal.

The Double-Stroke Roll

The double stroke roll is one of the two main rudiments that every drummer should master over time. This rudiment is comprised of two single strokes played with each hand. slow at first but then in rapid succession as you build speed. But don’t get too strung up on the word rapid. The key to playing this rudiment is to maintain even volume and spacing between the two hands.

A common mistake is to play the first stroke too hard, resulting in the second stroke being softer in volume. This is more noticeable when the roll tempo increases. Another common issue is allowing too much space between the two strokes. Causing them to sound disconnected.

When executed, the double stroke roll should sound smooth and fluid. With practice, this rudiment can be played at high speeds and used to create a wide range of fills and solos.

The basic technique for mastering this rudiment is to play the second of each group of two notes (on each hand). Louder than the first note. This is a sort of snapping motion where the first note is played at a low volume. And then snapping the wrist to play a louder second note.

The effect of speeding up is then a sort of illusion where the second note is much softer than the first. (because of the speed increase). When sped up the two notes balance out in volume level. When done with both hands, this produces an even flow with both hands. And each note is then heard at similar volumes.

As with all things drumming, practice slow to make the spaces between the notes even.

If you can’t play it slow then you will never play it fast. (play it well at least). And the slower you practice and the more precise you get at a slower tempo, the faster you will be able to play it later. So don’t rush. Perfect it slow before attempting to speed up.

The Closed Roll

Continuing the drum roll theme from the single and double stroke rolls.

Which are often called open rolls, we move on to a closed roll or buzz roll. The Closed Roll Rudiment is a basic drumming pattern that every drummer should know. In this drum roll, you play your dominant hand in a way that lets the stick bounce on the drum head for as long as it can.

Start from the starting position, play the drum and let the stick bounce. Then when the bouncing ends do the same with your other hand. Repeat this toing-and-froing letting each stick bounce on the head.

When this becomes easy, try pressing your hands into the roll to make it tighter. You may have to tighten your grip on the sticks to make this happen but you will get it as you practice. Try to control the bounce so that when you speed up a little, it is as though one long note is being played. A roll.

The single and double-stroke rolls are two ways of interpreting the closed roll. Or buzz roll.

Another Description of The Closed Roll

The closed roll can be interpreted as a pattern made up of six stroke rolls, played in groups of three with each hand. The first roll (3 notes) is first played with the right hand. Followed by the left hand, and then the right hand again, and so on.

The Closed Roll Rudiment is a great foundation skill for any drummer to have when played in this form. I actually never got the hang of it as I followed my usual pattern of easiest is best. It never stopped me from gigging so I stick to my choice. It seemed a little like… overkill to me. At the beginning at least.

Please Note: As you become more comfortable with these rudiments. You can increase the speed of them over time. This will help you develop finesse as well as nimble fingers. Both are essential skills for any drummer to adopt. But as suggested earlier, don’t be in too much of a rush. Drummers spend a lifetime perfecting these rudiments so you should do the same. More so if you are serious about becoming a great drummer.

The Paradiddle

Every drummer should know how to play the paradiddle. It’s a great rudiment for developing coordination between your hands and more.

Like singles and doubles, the paradiddle‘s used in many different styles of drumming. And music in general. It’s made up of four strokes, then the sticking pattern from those four strokes gets reversed. Like this: R L RR, then reversed, L R LL. So the whole pattern is:

R L RR, L R LL, R L RR, L R LL, etc.

As you can see, it’s made up of single strokes and double strokes. And like all rudiments should be practiced at a slow tempo. Then as you speed up something quite magical occurs. Okay so that may be a slight exaggeration, but you will get what I mean when you practice the paradiddle.

First, you practice the paradiddle slowly using the sticking R L RR, L R LL, R L RR, L R LL, and so on. When you start to speed up you shift from counting 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4 to counting 1, 2, 3, 4. Let me explain. When you begin to speed up. You begin to focus on the first R and the 5th L. So if you were to accent those notes. It would look something like this: R L RR, L R LL, RL RR, L R LL. So when you count 1, 2, 3, 4 you are thinking R L R L and so on.

As a developing drummer, this is where you begin to bring balance into your drumming. As you begin to realize that something as complex as R L RR, L R LL, R L RR, L R LL. Can be played more easily as you choose to count the subdivision that is 1, 2, 3, 4, or: R L RR, L R LL, RL RR, L R LL.

Or, Right Left Right Left, and so on.

The paradiddle is an essential rudiment for any drummer to learn. It provides a solid foundation for other more complex rudiments later. Especially because of the balance that’s introduced. And the ability to think in half time rather than whole time. And where you count every note within the paradiddle. Once you have mastered the paradiddle, you will be well on your way to becoming a master drummer! On a foundational level at least.

To play a paradiddle, start by striking the drum with your right hand. Then, follow up with a stroke from your left hand.

Next, strike the drum with your right hand again, and then finish with another stroke from your right hand.

You then reverse that pattern and so start by striking the drum with your left hand. Then, follow up with a stroke from your right hand.

Next, strike the drum with your left hand again, and then finish with another stroke from your left hand. Or as we already covered, R L RR, L R LL, RL RR, L R LL.

Repeat this pattern over and over again until you feel comfortable with it. Soon enough, you’ll be able to play paradiddles at lightning-fast speeds! By shifting focus to the R L R L motion as suggested earlier.

The Flam

Next, we discover the flam. The flam is a drum rudiment that’s performed by striking a much quieter Left-hand note. Before each Right-hand note. And vice versa as with every rudiment. A much quieter Right-hand note before a normal volumed Left-hand note.

So, when you play R L R L as in a single stroke roll. You add a flam to each note so it looks more like this: LR RL LR RL, and so on.

The softer notes are played a fraction before the Right or the Left. They are almost played as if they are one note. Again, practice these slow, to begin with. There is no need to speed up at all.

The flam can be played with either hand and is often used to add accents and dynamics. To play a flam, start by holding the left drumstick in the starting position. Strike the drum with the stick, then quickly strike the other hand, the Right hand in this example. The second strike should be positioned slightly higher than the first. Creating a “flam” sound.

In other words, hold your left hand close to the drum head and your right-hand perpendicular to the drum head. Then play each, one after the other in quick succession.

Flam rudiments can be combined to create more complex patterns. And are an essential part of any drummer’s toolkit. So practice right-hand flams before trying left-hand flams. And then try alternate sticking flams, ie. Right Left Right Left. Or, LR RL LR RL.


Triplets are another way of playing. Or rather, another way of interpreting the single stroke roll. But as the name implies triplets occur in groups of 3’s. As opposed to groups of 4. This is usually the case with 1/16th notes for instance.

So instead of R L R L, R L R L. Triplet sticking is RLR, LRL, RLR, LRL, and so on. R L R sounds exactly the same as if you spoke the words “one trip-let”. And RLR, LRL sounds exactly the same as if you spoke the words “one trip-let, two trip-let” and so on. To begin to differentiate the triplets you could play the first of each group of 3 on another drum. The small tom-tom for instance.

Or, if you’re practicing on a practice pad for instance. Then you could use different parts of the pad to play the first of each group of triplets. So it looked more like this: RLR, LRL, and so on.

Building On The Basic Rudiments

To save the beginner from getting too bogged down and becoming overwhelmed with these drumming rudiments for beginners. The rudiments covered so far are plenty to be getting on with. I will give a few more stickings to help you build on these basics.

Double and Triple Paradiddles

The first set of stickings are based on the paradiddle. Actually the single paradiddle. Because these two stickings are double and triple (not triplet), paradiddles.

The stickings of which are as follows:

  • Double Paradiddle Rudiment: R L R L R R, L R L R L L, and so on.
  • Triple Paradiddle Rudiment:   R L R L R L R R, L R L R L R L L, and so on.

Try those two variations at a slow tempo and begin to build your own dictionary of rudiments.

Flam Triplets

If you recall from the triplet section above. Triplets use the sticking: RLR, LRL, RLR, LRL, and so on.

Try these three flam triplet exercises. First place the flam on the first of each group of 3 triplets. Then on the second of each group of 3 triplets, and then on the third of each group of 3 triplets.

Flam Triplet Variation #1:  LRLR, RLRL, LRLR, RLRL

Flam Triplet Variation #2:  R RLR, L LRL, R RLR, L LRL

Flam Triplet Variation #3:  RL LR, LR RL, RL LR, LRRL

These are a few of the essential drumming rudiments that every beginner should know. With practice, you’ll be able to master them in no time.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start practicing!


We have covered enough ground as regards the top drumming rudiments for beginners to practice daily. And so will leave it here instead of making you overwhelmed. There are quite a few months of practice within this one article already. And remember these rudiments will never be completed. Meaning that they will always need work to improve them. Because the better you have these rudiments down, the better the drumming will become. And as they improve so will all other things that you play on the drums.

So before we sign off, tell us in the comments what your favorite rudiment is. Or do you avoid practicing rudiments at all costs? Either way, let us know in the comments below. And once again, thanks for sticking with this. Pun intended.

The Drum Coach

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