The forty standardized rudiments, as presented by such organizations as the Percussive Arts Society, are a generally accepted group of sticking and rhythmic patterns that can be utilized to develop control, speed, endurance, and coordination. While the rudiments certainly go a long way to help attain technical goals, some drummers might consider them to be somewhat limited in scope and depth. For example, many drummers now include quintuplets and septuplets in their everyday playing, yet no single rudiment utilizes either of these two rhythmic groupings. Also, the official rudiments are typically demonstrated by starting on a downbeat in a duple- or triplet-based subdivision. But by practicing each rudiment in both subdivisions whenever possible, and by starting them at different points along the beat, students can better challenge their control, timing, and vocabulary.

I believe there’s room for the standardized list of rudiments to be amended. While there are ten official double-stroke rudiments included, there are only three single-stroke rudiments—the single-stroke roll, the single-stroke four, and the single-stroke seven. In my opinion, the single-stroke three—an alternating three-note grouping—could be added to the official list of rudiments. In a sense, it’s the shortest possible single-stroke roll, and longer rolls could be thought of as embellishments of the single-stroke three.

The following exercises demonstrate the single-stroke three at different starting points along the beat—first with 16th notes, then with 8th-note triplets, and finally in combinations of the two subdivisions.

Let’s play the single-stroke three starting at different partials of the beat within 16th-note and 8th-note-triplet subdivisions.

Now we’ll play combinations of the previous 16th-note and 8th-note-triplet figures.

After working through the previous exercises, we’ll add one note to the end of the three-note groupings to extend the rudiment. This embellished figure is very useful on a practical level, and it’s commonly employed and thought of by many drummers as less of a rudiment and more of a simple, undefined sticking.

Here are two examples of an extended single-stroke three using 8th and 16th notes.

And here’s the previous grouping demonstrated within a triplet subdivision.

In these last two exercises, we’ll combine the embellished 8th- and 16th-note single-stroke threes.

Joel Rothman is the author of nearly 100 drum and percussion books, which sell worldwide through his company, JR Publications. For more info, visit