Drum rudiments are the bread and butter of drumming. They’re the basic building blocks of everything we play on the drums. So, every drummer should have a regular rudiment practice routine. And yet so many of us never take the time to really practice them. I get it, they’re not always the most exciting things to play. But trust me, if you want to take your drumming to the next level. Then you need to dedicate at least a few minutes each day to rudiment practice.
And of course, consistency is key.
The Top 7 – Most Important Rudiments
If you’re not familiar with rudiments, they’re simply basic drumming patterns. Sticking patterns that are used to develop drumming and technique. There are literally hundreds of rudiments. And you may have heard me say in a previous rudiment post that 800+ rudiments is beyond overkill.
Others say there are 26 essential rudiments that every drummer should know. But, from a practical point of view, There are only 5-10 rudiments you need to completely master. In fact, you can stick to the top 5 rudiments if you wish. Your drumming will be massively enhanced and advanced. To the degree that you master the top rudiments.
I did mention them in the Drum Rudiments For Beginners Post. So I will only suggest them here.
Essentially the main rudiments are:
- Single stroke roll
- Double stroke roll
- Buzz Roll
I added a 6th (ratamacue) as it does add some spice to your playing. especially when practiced and developed in certain ways. Specifically using coordinated hands and bass drum combinations. See Steve Gadd for those particular exercises.
So, here we include the top 5. And once you have those down, there are an infinite number of ways to combine them. Into more complex combination patterns.
In addition, I also include triplets as a rudiment. See the previously mentioned post.
Why Rudiments Are Important
Rudiments are important for a few reasons.
First, they help you develop a strong sense of timing and rhythm. Many rudiments are based on triplet or sixteenth-note patterns. So by practicing them often, you’ll start to internalize those rhythms. And feel more comfortable playing them in your everyday drumming. And as you improve and improvise.
Second, rudiments help you develop stick control. Because rudiments often involve rapid stick movement played on a single drum. Or played between different drums or cymbals in various combinations. They’re a great way to improve your speed, accuracy, and eventually your independence. Accuracy, precision, and flow are paramount here.
And as we all know, speed and accuracy are key components of good stick technique.
Finally, rudiments will make you a better sight-reader. Because they involve moving around the drumsets quickly without thinking. And often in unconventional ways. Rudiments will help train your brain and body to react quickly when reading music. In short, you can remove your focus from how to play something. Onto how you are going to interpret the music using the skills (rudiments) you have mastered.
But all of this is just fluff until you get your practice pad out and start to practice. Building and developing your rudimentary drumming skills. Through the use of a consistent daily practice schedule.
The Daily Rudiment Practice Routine
So now that we know why rudiments are important, let’s talk about how to practice them effectively. Incidentally, a practice planner and scheduler is a great tool for drummers to use.
First off, I recommend dedicating at least 5-10 minutes each day to rudiment practice. It doesn’t seem like much, but if you do it consistently, you’ll be amazed at how much progress you can make in a month or two.
I also recommend using a metronome when practicing rudiments and sticking to one tempo. A slow tempo to begin so you can really nail the spaces.
Not only will this help keep you honest in terms of tempo. It will also force you to play evenly and accurately. (which is another important component of a good stick technique). I like to start slow (around 60bpm) and gradually increase the tempo. As I get more comfortable with the basic pattern.
And that’s the key point. When developing rudiments, each has a specific pattern.
- A pattern of wrist movements
- A pattern of arm movements
- A pattern of breath,
- A pattern of stick movements,
- A pattern of bounce.
And so on.
I say this because at a slow tempo you will be able to focus on those individual patterns. Of course, it’s only one pattern in regards to actual drumming. But when viewed as separate patterns we are able to focus on each. We can then improve each and make them all flow in harmony together.
Not forgetting to make sure you’re using proper hand/stick positioning. When playing Rudiments. This means holding the sticks the right way. And keep your wrists and arms loose and relaxed (not tense). Tense wrists or arms lead to inaccurate sticking and loss of speed/control over time. So it’s important to get into good habits from the start.
A Suggested Rudiment Practice Routine
Let’s say you’ve set your drumming goals and established good time management techniques. And you have decided that you have 1 hour and 30 minutes of practice time each day.
Using the law of thirds. I would suggest practicing 1 whole hour on your main practice routine. And then spending 30 minutes per day on rudiments.
If you are a complete beginner then I would dedicate the first practice session to a single rudiment for a week. Before doing the same the following week with the next rudiment. And so on.
So, your first 7 weeks of practice would look something like this:
- Week 1: Rudiment 1. 30 Minutes Daily – Single stroke roll
- Week 2: Rudiment 2. 30 Minutes Daily – Double stroke roll
- Week 3: Rudiment 3. 30 Minutes Daily – Paradiddle.
- Week 4: Rudiment 4. 30 Minutes Daily – Flams
- Week 5: Rudiment 5. 30 Minutes Daily – Buzz roll
- Week 6: Rudiment 6. 30 Minutes Daily – Triplets
- Week 7: Rudiment 7. 30 Minutes Daily – Ratamacue
Just to get your brain to understand the sticking patterns of each rudiment.
Then, I would spend the next week practicing each rudiment daily for 3 minutes. (except rudiment number 1). The total minutes practicing rudiments 2-7 adds up to 18 minutes.
Now, after practicing each rudiment (2-7) for 3 minutes. I would then spend 10 minutes practicing rudiment 1.
If you feel so inclined you can practice rudiment 1 for 12 minutes. This takes up the full 30 minutes.
You can then move to your main practice session or just end your rudiment 30 session.
If you are so self-disciplined, you may want to do this 30-minute session morning and evening. With your main practice session during the day.
This process will allow you to build your rudiments and then maintain and improve them over time. You maintain with the 3 minutes per rudiment session. And you improve the main rudiment for the week during the 10 (12) minute rudiment practice session.
So, from the 8th week onward you are practicing schedule looks something like this:
- Week 8: Rudiment 2. 3 Minutes Daily – Double stroke roll
- Week 8: Rudiment 3. 3 Minutes Daily – Paradiddle.
- Week 8: Rudiment 4. 3 Minutes Daily – Flams
- Week 8: Rudiment 5. 3 Minutes Daily – Buzz roll
- Week 8: Rudiment 6. 3 Minutes Daily – Triplets
- Week 8: Rudiment 7. 3 Minutes Daily – Ratamacue
- Week 8: Rudiment 1. 12 Minutes Daily – Single stroke roll
You then spend week 9 with your main rudiment as the Double stoke role (rudiment 2).
And continue this routine changing the main rudiment every week.
I advise weekly changes to give you time to improve the main rudiment.
Special Note: all of the above for the first time around is done at 60 bpm. After you have completed all rudiments using the above routine. And you’ve practiced the 12-minute main rudiment session for each of the 7 rudiments. Then, turn the tempo up to 70bpm. Not 80 and not 75. 70 bpm. And repeat the process.
This will all involve massive self-discipline. But the rewards will be well worth it.
To end this rudiment practice routine post. I have decided to create a drum challenge that will involve massive discipline. And it goes way back before you even play rudiments. It will be called the Stick Mastery Challenge and will last for over 90 days. It’s a masterclass in self-discipline.
By clicking the link below and downloading your free printable rudiment practice tracker. You will be advised when the challenge begins.
Practice Makes Perfect (almost)
Of course, no amount of practice will make you perfect. Drumming is an art form after all. But before the art shines through, the science must be learned and practiced. And by dedicating a few minutes (30) each day to practicing rudiments. You’ll quickly see a dramatic improvement in your overall skillset as a drummer.
So don’t wait any longer… download your free rudiment practice tracker. And get out there and start practicing!
If you have any scheduling ideas to share, write a comment below. I would love to hear your ideas and opinions.
The Drum Coach.