These three exercises focus on transitioning into diddles, triple strokes, and paradiddles without changing the hand motions. We’ll use flowing free strokes to go into these rudiments, and we’ll strive to maintain a relaxed and rebounding stroke on the first note of each diddle and triple stroke. It’s also important to avoid slamming the downstrokes in the paradiddles.
Let’s start with diddles and triple strokes. I often see drummers attack the diddles and triple strokes by applying additional pressure into the drum. The idea behind that approach is that if enough downward force goes into the first note then there will be plenty of energy left over for the second or third bounces. This is a good way to get started with these rudiments, but ultimately that method will lead to weak diddles and triple strokes that can also end up being rhythmically crushed.
Here are some keys to playing even and balanced doubles and triple strokes.
1. Play the initial note as a free stroke without adding any extra force.
2. Let the first stroke rebound as high as possible.
3. Use your fingers to add velocity to the second stroke when playing triple strokes.
4. Finish with a powerful downstroke that points down toward the drum. (I refer to these combinations as the “alley-oop” technique for diddles and the “alley-oop-oop” for triple strokes.) The first stroke will start at a higher stick height at medium and faster speeds, but the greater velocity of the secondary strokes will enable them to match the volume of the first stroke.
Even when practicing at slower tempos you want to utilize the faster tempo’s technique, so the last stroke should be played as a strict downstroke. I recommend using the American grip (with the palm positioned at about a forty-five-degree angle to the floor) so that you can play the downstrokes by pulling the back end of the stick into the palm with the fingers while holding the front end of the stick down with the thumb. Finally, don’t squeeze the fulcrum too hard.
In this variation, try to flow into each paradiddle’s downstroke without changing the initial movement of the stroke. A downstroke starts out like a free stroke and only becomes a downstroke after you hit the drum. So avoid adding velocity, stick height, or inertia by hitting the downstrokes harder. Strive for consistent timing and volume on each 8th-note count, and always count out loud. When played accurately, this exercise should sound like a simple eight-on-a-hand exercise with a few low 32nd notes tucked in between.
Bill Bachman is an international drum clinician, the author of Stick Technique and Rhythm & Chops Builders (Modern Drummer Publications), and the founder of drumworkout.com. For more information, including how to sign up for online lessons, visit billbachman.net.