Build Your Percussion Vocabulary With Rudiments

Any World Class performer knows that one of your most valuable playing resources is your percussion vocabulary.  The more you know, the more valuable YOU become as a player.

Building your percussion vocabulary with rudiments will greatly benefit your performance in many aspects.  For instance, whenever you come across a new piece of material or you’re in a Sight Reading situation, if you can identify the rudiments or identify the style of sticking, the piece wil stand out as easier to play and understand. 

Especially for marching percussionists, for you, it’s all about rhythm.  Our music notation, especially for battery members, is primarily all intricate rhytms.  Quite often, you aren’t playing whole notes like the flute player next to you.  You are probably rammin out some triplet rolls, ninelets to cheese inverts while they’re stuck on whoooooolleeeeee noteeeeee.

Also, building your percussion vocabulary shows a lot about your playing maturity.  It shows that you have an extensive set of playing ability and have more to offer than just singles and rolls.

And see there are two ways you need to build your percussion vocabulary as a marching percussionist:

1.  By knowledge of rudiments (flam accents, 5 stroke roll etc.) And

2.  Rhythmic sticking (6 tuplet with a inverted roll sticking – RLLRRL L).

Here is what to do when you want to build your percussion vocabulary for today:

1. Hit up the 40 PAS Drum Rudiments:  here’s a link to see all of the rudiments here.  Go there and check out some of the rudiments and get comfortable with the sticking and additions to each rudiment.  Now while I don’t think you need to fully memorize each rudiment, one by one and be able to recall all 40, it’s great to expose yourself to each one.  Most of them are usually additions to the previous rudiments (for ex.  paradiddle diddle, double paradiddle, 5 stroke roll, 7 stroke roll..etc.).

2.  Find a NEW piece of sheet music (exercise or show music):  After you get through playing through some of the rudiments, check out a piece of music you’ve never played before.  I’m sure there’s something buried in a folder of yours or  a piece online that you’ve been waiting to purchase. :)  The point of this is to become familiar with stickings on the fly.  Once you recognize the rudiments, you can apply them to the note values.

These two practices go hand and hand: know the technical aspect of how to play a rudiment is one thing (how to play flam drags).  From there a rudiment can be applied to a wide variety of note values and sticking (how to play multiple flam drags in sixteenth note notation – 1 . . Ah . .And. . E . . 4.  ).

Try this a few times a week to keep your mind and hands fresh.

Oh and btw, don’t spend TOO much time trying to figure out EVERY single rudiment and sticking available to man – for today, just expose yourself to something new.  Each time you have a new experience, you break small barriers to help you become more comfortable everywhere.

Later this week, I’ll have some music available for download to keep your hands and mind fresh.

See, now you have a new task that you might have NOT done hadn’t you read this post today.  Tomorrow list of the top 10 rudiments you SHOULD know and some that you’re WASTING your time on.  :)

Follow through today – let’s see YOU get better.

To your success,


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