Rudiments are the “vocabulary” of percussionists and drummers. They teach stick control and help students develop their technique across all of the percussion instruments. In that sense, they are similar to scales on a keyboard instrument.
It is generally assumed that by the time a percussionist gets to college, they already know their rudiments. Unfortunately, many students don’t know them as well as they should. This is especially true if the student starts on a mallet percussion instrument or comes to percussion from another instrument.
A Brief History
Over the years, percussionists have tried to come up with a standardized list of rudiments. The original rudiments were developed in Europe hundreds of years ago and were introduced into the United States during the American Revolution. In 1933, the National Association of Rudimental Drummers (NARD) created the “Thirteen Essential Rudiments” from the 26 Standard American Drum Rudiments.
These thirteen rudiments were adopted and used as a test for membership in the so-called “Thirteen Club.” They included the long roll, the 5-stroke and 7-stroke roll, the flam, the flam accent, the flam paradiddle, the flamacue, the ruff, the single and double drag, the double paradiddle, and the single and triple ratamacue. In the early 1980s, the Percussive Arts Society added fourteen rudiments, reordered them and published the 40 Standard American Drum Rudiments, broken down into the following four categories:
1) Roll Rudiments
2) Diddle Rudiments
3) Flam Rudiments
4) Drag Rudiments
More recently, a number of hybrid rudiments (combinations of two or more of the original 40 rudiments) have been informally added, and are common in drumlines and drum corps.
Here are my two favorite rudimental warm-up exercises:
Click here to download the Yamaha Rudiments Poster.
There are also numerous websites where you can explore snare drum rudiments, including:
How do you incorporate rudiments into your practice routine? What is your favorite rudimental warm-up? If you are a teacher, how do you incorporate rudiments into your lessons and assignments? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.