Advanced Rudimental Training Tips

Rudimental drumming is very physical, arguably the most physical of all musical expressions, requiring practitioners of the art to train for the purposes of developing endurance, coordination, and speed to the highest degree. Competitive rudimental drumming is about displaying skills, therefore muscle development becomes very important for competition. Competitive rudimental drummers should consider themselves athletes; training becomes mandatory. Practice sessions should be thought of as weight training where exercises are played repetitively with the goals of increasing reps over time and increasing time spent in a session. Rudimental drummers should exercise more than just one area of the hand. Exercises involving the fingers, wrist, forearms, triceps, biceps, shoulders, should be played. In fact, the whole upper body should be  developed, laterals and pecs, and the trainee should include cardiovascular exercise into the workout as well. Players who use only a portion of the arm, only play from the wrists for example, will limit skill advancement. Make sure a metronome is used whenever possible. There's a natural tendency to slow down over time as you tire; a metronome will provide a constant reminder of the tempo. Plus, the more you use a metronome the more your timing will improve.

1.) ENDURANCE TRAINING
 
Endurance is extremely important for playing extended periods of time, and there are several effective ways you can increase endurance. Record all endurance exercises along with the time/measures in a notebook for benchmarking. Strive for zero mistakes, but remember that the primary goal for endurance training is distance. Occasionally, use heavy sticks for added endurance.

  A.) Playing 32nd note double stroke rolls at mm = 120 using a watch. Your first goal may be one minute. Eventually work toward a five minute roll, which can springboard you to a ten minute, twenty minute, thirty minute and even an hour roll. Tempos of 126, 132, and 138 should also be recorded. If you don't like clock watching, you can count the number of measures instead. A one minute roll at mm = 120 is 30 measures, five minutes is 150 measures. For long distance drumming, try to keep the stick height low and breathe short breaths to conserve energy.

Building the shoulders and upper body can be done by raising the stick heights. The higher the stick height the less time you'll be able to maintain the roll. A 100 measure roll with a stick height of 20 inches expends more energy than a five minute roll at three inches. Keep separate records for different stick heights.

Playing your fastest roll for 25-50 measures will build your pecs and forearms. The wrists will lock when you do this, but try to maintain clean diddles in the roll, i.e., don't buzz. The fast roll endurance will help build faster speeds.

  B.) Do the same for 24th note singles using moderate tempos, raising the stick height, playing as fast and long as possible, accenting the down and up beats. Different motions are used for accented singles than for rolls, so different muscles will be exercised.

  C.) Play snare solos that tax the muscles. Once you learn a particularly solo try to play it multiple times. Repeating a solo up to five times can build endurance. Try playing "Connecticut Halftime" at mm = 132 three times. Once you've accomplished that increase the tempo to mm = 138, then to mm = 144. Then, go back and play the solo five times nonstop for each tempo. 

  D.) Play solos at faster tempos than the given tempos. After learning a solo at the written tempo try playing it a full notch higher on the metronome. If a solo has multiple tempos play each tempo a notch higher. Once you've worked up the solo at the faster tempo with a low number of mistakes increase the tempo again.

  E.) String multiple solos together. Markovitch's "The Winner", "Stamina", and "Tornado", when played non-stop starting with the "The Winner" and ending with "Tornado", will definitely increase endurance. Try it with mm = 132, mm = 138, and mm = 144. Other solos that are fun to string together are Cappio's "The Charger", "Primo", and "Lu-lu". Once a grouping of solos has been mastered at a tempo move the tempo up a notch.

  F.) Work on "Three Camps" at mm=116 with 48th note rolls. Eventually move the tempo up to mm=120, mm=126, and mm=132.

  G.) Open and close all the rudiments in one session.

2.) COORDINATION TRAINING

  A.) Accents/grace note rudimental variations. Pick a sticking pattern, for example a paradiddle. Using a comfortable tempo play the rudiment and shift the accent from one 16th note to the next, four counts for each pattern. A group of four notes has 15 accent possibilities, 15 possibilities of flam combinations, and a total of 225 variations of accents and flams just with one sticking pattern.

  B.) Playing lead hand switch rudiments without switching lead hand. For instance play a paradiddle, starting on the right hand. Instead of switching to the left hand repeat the paradiddle starting on the right hand. Repeat the process starting with the left hand. You can do this with any rudiment that normally switches lead hand. Accents and grace notes can be added to create variations.

  C.) Switching lead hand for non-alternating rudiments. Practice alternating six, seven, eleven, and fifteen stroke rolls, flamacues, swiss army triplets, paradiddle-diddles, and Lesson 25. Create variations by adding accents/grace notes.

3.) SPEED TRAINING

As fast and long as possible play the following. Make sure you use a metronome to keep the tempo steady. Focus on keeping a clean sound.
  A.) A roll. 
  B.) 24th note singles, accenting the down/up beats.
  C.) Paradiddles.
  D.) Play only the right hand portion of a roll. Repeat with the left hand. By using only one hand concentration can be more focused on keeping a proper diddle sound, and you can play slightly faster since not all of the upper body is in use.
  E.) One handed accented triplets.
  F.) Faster speeds require faster reflexes. Here are some sticking patterns for building faster reflexes:

Scan: