Single Stroke Roll - Drum Rudiment

The first pattern from the 40 drum rudiments we'll be taking a look at is the single stroke roll. The single stroke roll is one of the three patterns from the 40 drum rudiments that belongs to the single stroke family of drum rudiments. The drum rudiments included in this family are played exclusively with single strokes. The single stroke roll is the drum rudiment everyone should learn how to play first.

The single stroke roll consists of a consecutive stream of alternating strokes – R (right) L (left) R L R L…or L R L R L R…in case you're left hand dominant. No matter the hand you start playing it with, it's important you learn how to execute the single stroke roll leading with both hands.
Once you're able to play the single stroke roll comfortably on a single surface, you can move on to learn how to apply the single stroke roll to the drum set.

Single Stroke Roll

Before you go any further with this lesson, we'd like to give you some tips that will prove to be invaluable in your quest to master the 40 drum rudiments. The first tip is: You've got to be patient. Developing your skills behind a practice pad or a drum set takes time. Things won't come immediately, but if you keep at it they WILL come. The second tip is: Play and practice as much as you can. If you don't spend time practicing you won't get better; plain and simple. It's also extremely important for you to keep a consistent practice routine. Practicing every day will hail better and faster results than practicing for long periods of time but only on the weekend.

The third tip is: Practice with a metronome. This is a very important practice tool. You'll get to know exactly how fast you can play while developing you internal clock at the same time. The fourth tip is: Practice in front of a mirror. This will allow you to check your posture, stick heights, and even the way each hand plays a stroke. When in front of a mirror you are your own drum teacher. Be demanding with yourself as a teacher would. Try making things sound and look as perfect as possible. The fifth tip is: Stay relaxed. It's essential to practice with a relaxed grip. This will avoid the development of any stress related injuries like tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, a relaxed grip is the key for unlocking your hand's potential regarding control, stamina and speed. The last tip is: Have a lot of fun! We think this one is self-explanatory.

Exercise #1 is a 16th note two handed hi-hat drum beat. The 16th note single stroke roll is played between the hi-hat and the snare drum. Start by playing a consistent sounding single stroke roll on the hi-hat. Once you've gotten the feel for it, move the strokes on counts 2 and 4 to the snare. Make sure you have the hands mastered before you add the bass drum on counts 1 and 3.

Exercise #2 is a cool sounding 16th note drum beat. This pattern is basically the same as the previous one. The only thing you have to do differently here is move your snare hand from the hi-hat to the snare drum, and leave it there to play all of those ghosted strokes.

Exercise #3 is a 16th note drum fill. The idea here is to take the 16th single stroke roll that you practiced on a single surface and just move it around the drums. Transitioning between drums is the most complicated part of this drum fill. Practice moving the single stroke roll between the different surfaces slowly at first, so you can avoid stick and rim clicks. Hit the center of the drums. This will get the best and more consistent sounding tone out of them.

Exercise #4 is a 16th note half-bar drum fill. A half-bar drum fill starts halfway into a measure. In this case it's on count 3. The concepts we discussed in the previous drum fill should be applied to this one as well. The only difference here is that instead of hitting four strokes per drum you have to hit two.

Once you're able to play the single stroke roll and the exercises herein accurately, you can move on to further expand your knowledge on the 40 drum rudiments. If you want to keep studying single stroke based drum rudiments, we encourage you to learn how to play the single stroke four. If you'd rather learn a drum rudiment from a different rudimental family, then the double stroke roll is the best next thing for you.