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Rudiments for Maintaining Percussion Chops While School is Out

Kevin Lucas • GoodVibes • April 30, 2020

When your percussionists are out of school, teachers may be wondering how they can help students keep up their chops when there is no face-to-face guidance. The best solution in times like these is to encourage your students to focus on the basics. For drummers, this would be rudiments and exercises. If your percussionists do not have a drum at home, a practice pad will work just fine.

With a practice pad, drummers should practice different stick heights of three, six, and nine inches, playing “eight on a hand” as a warm up. This is literally eight 8th notes on each hand. They should be played at different tempos, starting slow and gradually speeding up. Your students need to focus on proper grip, which is called the fulcrum. This is where the thumb and index finger meet the stick. They should be playing on a space the size of a quarter in the middle of the practice pad in order to develop stick control. The stick heights are extremely important so your students can maintain control at all dynamic levels.

All rudiments should be played “open to close.” This means that they are to start slow and gradually speed up to their fast tempo to where your student can still maintain control, and then gradually slow down to the beginning speed.

1) The first rudiment they should practice is the “single stroke roll.” These are continuous single strokes of RLRLRLRL etc., starting slow and speeding up and then slowing down.

2) The next rudiment they should practice is the “double stroke roll.” The sticking on this is RR LL RR LL RR LL continuously. Make sure your students keep the strokes even with no accents. When accelerating to a faster speed and slowing down, the transitions should be smooth and seamless.

3) The five-stroke roll is the next rudiment they should play. The sticking is RRLLR, LLRRL, and continuously repeating. There should be no accents. The fifth note is an 8th note and the first four notes are 16th notes. They should also be played in an open to closed pattern (slow to fast to slow).

4) Para-diddle. The sticking for this rudiment is RLRR LRLL etc. There should be no accents and every stroke should be smooth and evenly performed.

5) Double Para-diddle: The sticking for this is RLRLRR LRLRLL. This rudiment will take a little more time for your beginners so it is very important that they play it very slow over and over again before attempting to speed it up. A good way to think of this rudiment is in the rhythmic context of slow “sextuplets.”

6) Para Diddle-diddle: This is a challenging yet fun rudiment for your beginning students. The sticking is RLRRLL LRLLRR. It is most important on this rudiment that it is practiced very slowly because the sticking can seem awkward for beginners. It is acceptable for your students to practice both halves of the rudiment separately, playing the right hand sticking in one practice session and then off of the left hand in the next session.

7) The Flam: A right hand flam is a left hand grace note dropped in before the right hand stroke. The left hand flam is a right hand grace note dropped in before the left hand stroke. The grace notes should be very low and close to the head and lightly dropped in, and very tight to the note. The grace note does not have its own rhythm value as it is part of the main stroke. When playing all flam rudiments or exercises, keeping the grace note very low and controlled is of absolute importance.

8) Triple Stroke Roll: The sticking for this rudiment is RRR LLL RRR LLL. These are more challenging for beginners and require developed wrist strength to play all of the notes evenly, especially at a fast tempo.

There are 40 drum rudiments. This is a great time for your students to learn and master all of them. There is a great book that contains all 40, called Drum Rudiment Dictionary by Jay Wanamaker. Once your students master all 40 rudiments, they can create their own new combinations out of the 40 rudiments. This can make an endless amount of rudiments and can also promote creativity with your students.

In 2016, The Huffington Post called Kevin Lucas “the most talented percussionist since Lionel Hampton, Ginger Baker, and Tito Puente.” He has been nominated for 38 music industry awards for his Echoes in the Sand album, and he won the 2016 American Songwriting Awards. Kevin performed with the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps from 1992-1994, and won the DCI Midwest Individuals in 1994 for keyboard percussion. He placed 2nd in the United States for concert hall percussion at the Music Teachers National Association collegiate competition in 1997. m.huffpost.com/us/entry/10960000

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