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Rudimentary, My Dear

by Omar on December 18, 2008

in Editorials, Education

My paradiddles need work.

That’s right, I said it! Me, the Paradiddler, needs to work on his paradiddles! Not only that rudiment, but all 40 to be exact. Forty! Gads, how am I gonna get to all of ‘em? And why bother anyway?

The Forty Rudiments are the basic drum patterns for most all of drumming and percussion, as we are probably well aware. You may not recognize some of them if you heard them, but if you studied the rudiments and got familiar with them, you’d be like Mel Gibson in “What Women Want” when he was walking through the park after getting his newfound ability – they’re all over the place! How come I didn’t hear it before?

Just a quick brief on the history of the 40 Rudiments, quoting from Wikipedia: “The National Association of Rudimental Drummers (NARD), an organization established to promote rudimental drumming, put forward a list of 13 ‘essential’ rudiments, and later a second set of thirteen to form the original 26. Finally, the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) reorganized the first 26 and added another 14 to form the current 40 International Drum Rudiments.”

Many would say that, to be a good drummer, you must learn the rudiments. And although I would say, “that depends on what your definition of ‘good’ is,” I tend to agree that, if you really want to expand your horizons drumming-wise, then it is very important to learn the rudiments. They are the vocabulary of drumming, and like in any language, the more vocabulary you know, the more you can say with effectiveness. The same holds true with the drum rudiments: the more you know, the more you can do, or “say”, with your playing, and it will become more enjoyable to boot!

Alas, I need serious work. For many years I ignored the rudiments, the ‘vocabulary’, and my playing has suffered. Yes, I typically can mimic quite well any song (well, some songs) and play it so it sounds like I know what I’m doing. And many times I’m playing a rudiment or rudiments without even knowing it, but I don’t have an extensive vocabulary, per se, so I’m not as good as I’d like to be.

But I want to be awesome! So I decided that for the next several months I’m going to focus heavily on the rudiments (yes, all 40 of them). My muscle memory is suffering from amnesia at this point, so I must develop them and speed up my playing. But where to start?

I decided to head on down to my local Guitar Center (in Marietta, GA) because I had issues with my hi-hat stand and I had questions, and of course, to browse, what else? Anyways, I got to talking with Paul Jones, a drum rep there, and he was most attentive. He gave me a little demonstration of some double-stroke rolls, paradiddles, and a discussion regarding muscle memory, and I must tell you Paul knows his stuff. I mentioned to him that I needed to develop speed and that I wanted to focus on the rudiments. He emphasized that he’s a rudiments guy and that that’s the best place to start as far as developing a vocabulary of drumming. As you improve your speed on the rudiments, you gravitate to learn how the rudiments extend from one drum to the rest of the kit (cymbals included).

To get started, however, it’s always a good idea to have a practice pad. Let me tell you, I might find rudiments (paradiddles especially, for obvious reasons) to be quite fun, and I could play them all day, but my neighbors would go nuts! With so many pads out there, which to choose? Again, Paul was very helpful and strongly recommended the 12” double-sided “Chop Builder Pad”, by Vater. You can get it at Guitar Center for $29.98 (plus applicable tax). I was going to buy a new drum head for one of my toms, but I opted instead for the pad, because it will be instrumental (pun intended) in the development of my playing and increase my speed and dexterity.

As far as learning what the rudiments are, on the Education page of this web site (link at the top of this page) you can download a pdf file displaying all 40 Rudiments, and there’s a link to freedrumlessons.com where you can see the rudiments performed properly, in the context of the snare and on the kit. Vic Firth has a similar presentation, where you can click here to take a look. Check out the other links on the Education page, or scan the Internet for other sites that show the rudiments in action.

As for me, I’m off to perfect my paradiddles (“hey paradiddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon” – sorry, couldn’t resist). I’m also going to hit my flamacue’s, pataflafla’s, single ratamacue’s, and the Lesson 25 (couldn’t someone come up with a better name?). I’ll let you know how it goes. It’s rudimentary!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Antoine July 13, 2009 at 8:09 am

Hey I just found your blog through drumchannel. I started a drum blog a while back (in french though) and yours is such fun to read!
keep up the rudiment work (how’s it been going it’s been 6 months) I should get working on my rudiments too now 😀 see ya!


Omar July 13, 2009 at 5:06 pm


Thanks for the comments! As far as my rudimental training, well, it has gone embarrasingly slow! I tend to gravitate towards what I like most (as most, if not all of us do), so I’ve been focused more on drum covers, article writing, and the like. But recently I’ve come across a drum training program that assists with structuring your practice routine, and that’s something that for sure I need! I hope to be reviewing it soon, for everyone’s benefit.

And thanks very much for your comments on the site! If you know of others who might like it, by all means, let them know!


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