Rudiments are the foundation for building and playing any drum groove under the sun. They are miniature studies in a specific concept which will help you with sticking, dynamics, subdivisions, and more.
There are forty rudiments in total, ranging from fairly straightforward to very challenging. If you’re new to rudiments, it is best to start with the basics and work your way up from there. Here we will explore some ideal drum rudiments for beginners.
Read here for in depth information on rudiments.
Note that many players overlook the rudiments, perhaps not knowing what they are, or dismissing them as un-necessary. Make sure you do not make this mistake. Incorporate rudiments into your drumming practice routine to see steady improvement in your skills over time.
One great advantage to practicing rudiments is that you don’t even need to be at the drum set. In fact, you don’t even need to own one! Simply get yourself a good practice pad, a pair of sticks, and a metronome.
This can be a great way to get into drumming with these items alone, by seeing if you have the patience to make progress while investing very little money.
Where to begin
Single stroke roll
The most obvious rudiment to begin with is the single stroke roll. Technically simple, it will help you build confidence and speed if approached correctly.
Set the practice pad in front of you at a comfortable height and set the metronome to a nice low setting. I suggest 60 BPM and playing quarter notes as a starting point.
Depending on your ability, change the tempo to suit, there’s no harm in going slower to begin. In fact it will help your time keeping abilities if played accurately.
All you’re going to be doing is alternating between right and left hand one after another at a fixed tempo. That’s it. You’ll be aiming to produce an even tone between strokes without any difference in volume – you will work on dynamics such as accents in more advanced rudiments. For now, stay focused.
Play at a comfortable tempo for a couple of minutes, ensuring that you’re not making any mistakes. Do the same again, starting with the other hand.
Then push the tempo up slightly until you find the edge of your comfort zone, and slightly beyond. Continue playing here for a couple of minutes and then bring the tempo back down so you finish with confidence.
As you progress, you may want to switch back and forth between bars of quarter notes and eighth notes.
Single stroke four
This little gem is great for developing little bursts of speed around the drum set. It’s a bit trickier than the single stroke roll, in the sense it uses three sixteenth note triplets followed by an eighth note.
Make sure you practice this one starting with both hands. You’ll probably find that you can achieve higher tempos with the single stroke four because of the pause between sets. As you increase the speed, make sure you’re consistent in volume between hands.
Double stroke roll
This rudiment sounds easy in theory but getting a consistent tone can be challenging. It’s simply played as two strokes with one hand, followed by two strokes with the other, forming a continuous roll.
As you get this rudiment under control, it is fantastic for moving around the drum set, incorporating the bass drum, making for nice little fills.
As far as drum rudiments for beginners go, I would say the single paradiddle is a nice challenge and definitely one to master because of its many possible applications around the drum set. But for now, keep it simple by playing only on the practice pad.
Start with your dominant hand at a slow speed, again I recommend 60 BPM to start, and work your way up and to the edge of your comfort zone and slightly beyond, and back down again.
Starting with the right hand:
And the left hand:
When you’re ready to challenge yourself further, there are hundreds of places to read all about rudiments online. Here’s a couple that I recommend:
Vic Firth offers clear notation and play along challenges for all 40 rudiments, varying in speed from ‘bronze’ to ‘diamond’ level. You can also download a free PDF for quick reference.
If you find videos helpful, 40 Drum Rudiments has a free video lesson for each rudiment, as well as examples of how they can be applied to drum grooves.
Here’s a clip of the single stroke roll video from the site to give you a taste:
With 40 rudiments to build a solid foundation for your drumming, these four drum rudiments for beginners are simply my suggestion for a starting point.
They are basic enough to give you confidence at the beginning but can be used in so many different ways. You can move them around the drum kit, between hands and feet, cymbals and toms, and wherever your imagination takes you. They are simply some of the building blocks you can use as you build your skill from the ground up.
Are you just starting out? What are your favourite rudiments? Please do leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.