Simple Ways to Progress Beyond the Snare

Rediscovering Rudiments 1Regardless of your desire as a drummer, whether it’s to play blistering solos or tasteful grooves, studying the rudiments will do much to help you take your craft to the next level. In this article our goal is not only to encourage you to study the rudiments as they were written, on the snare, but to explore them in a way that opens up a whole new world of opportunities behind the drumset.

I have the privilege of teaching drumset to students ranging in age from five to forty-five. One question that I ask every one of them is, “How can you master multiple drums if you haven’t mastered one?” Before we ever start applying rudiments to the full kit, we take a good while to work them up on the snare drum. Two things that I would encourage you to be mindful of when practicing rudiments is note consistency and tempo. Note consistency means that you have the ability to play a particular rudiment evenly at any volume level, from soft to loud. Tempo refers to having the ability to play a particular rudiment at any speed without sacrificing your note consistency.

A couple of great rudiments to start with are singlestroke and double-stroke rolls. If possible, record yourself playing these two rudiments and see if you can hear the transition from one hand to the other. After you’ve analyzed your playing, make adjustments that result in a silkysmooth sound.

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Once you get those two rolls to a satisfactory level on the snare, it’s time to progress to the next phase, which involves creating parameters and rules for how to orchestrate them on the kit. Here are some examples.

Rule 1: Switch to a new sound source every two notes within the double-stroke roll.

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Rule 2: With a single paradiddle (which is a combination of two single strokes and a double stroke), replace the right hand part with the bass drum and then add quarter notes on the hi-hat with the right hand.

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Rule 3: With a five-stroke roll (two double strokes and an accented single stroke), play the accented notes on toms while all the other notes are played on the snare, or vice versa. After you get comfortable utilizing different parameters and rules with a rudiment, see if those ideas will work as a drum fill.

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The next phase is to play various ostinatos with your feet while keeping the rudiment on the snare. I always start with a basic bass drum and hi-hat ostinato and then move on to Latin feels. Here’s an example of a three-bar phrase using a samba ostinato beneath five-stroke rolls.

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After the rudiment feels good on the snare with the various foot ostinatos, begin to implement some of the rules that we were using earlier to spice things up a bit. Here’s an example of a six-stroke roll that starts with the left hand (LRRLLR), played over a basic foot ostinato.

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Another way to explore the possibilities of a rudiment is by phrasing it between the hi-hat and snare. Start out by following the sticking pattern of the rudiment exactly as written. Begin with something simple, like a single paradiddle, and then add quarter notes on the bass drum. After you get comfortable with that groove, try moving the right hand around the drumset to see how things evolve.

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The examples included in this article are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless ways to expand on each rudiment, so don’t be afraid to use your imagination and explore!

Miguel Monroy is the creator of, a free educational resource for drummers, and he serves as a drumset and percussion instructor for the community music program at the University of Louisville.