What is rudimental drumming? It is the most important aspect of any percussionist's arsenal, the core of everything you perform on the drums; the basics, which in any activity is crucial for the pathway to professionalism. Like exercising for a sport, reading a book, or writing for an article, it is "the fundamentals" that you must practice every day to build that foundation for success. Without these basics you would be on the roadway towards a "Practice makes perfect" mentality leading to mediocrity instead of pursuing greatness in the "Perfect Practice makes perfect" approach. Let's highlight the fundamentals and pursue greatness together.
Your Approach to the Instrument
You should always strive for a relaxed physical sensation. I will explain the basic rudiments most musicians should know, but for now you should always implement a relaxed feeling without getting too stiff as this will affect your playing. When you start to practice more advanced exercises, the level of difficulty to perform correctly increases, and as such an individual’s performance becomes tense and distorts the sound of the stick when striking the surface. By becoming rigid in your playing, you hold on tighter and tighter to the stick causing the impact of the strike to become hindered thus “choking” the sound as opposed to allowing the sound waves to travel freely when holding the stick.
Of course it is natural to get tense while doing something difficult. However, just as in weight lifting, you don’t automatically put on weight that is too much for you to handle and could potentially harm you. Instead you work into it but gradually, getting better little by little always pushing the limits one step at a time. Just like a muscle, you don’t want to ruin or diminish your progress by practicing foolishly. Your attitude is also absolutely crucial, you must always believe that you can play anything and play it great. Confidence is key for any drummer, you’ll notice the best musicians have mastery over their instrument yet still look to innovate and improve their playing. Confidence comes from believing in yourself, and you gain that confidence through hours of playing passionately on your instrument. So relax, take your time, play confidently, and have fun!
There are many different styles to hold a stick including the most commonly known “Matched” and “Traditional" grip. The Traditional grip is mainly popular within the jazz and marching styles of music and referred to as the underhand grip. Matched grip on the other hand, is used on anything from drum sets to gongs. It will be worth your time to learn how to hold a stick but most will find that it comes naturally for matched grip.
Matched Grip is performed by holding the drum sticks Credit: Wikipediawith your index finger and middle finger curling around the bottom of the stick. The fulcrum which is the pivoting point of the stick is located between the thumb and index. This pivot point should be located about 1/3 up the length of the stick from the butt end. This point allows the stick to move freely and bounce after striking a percussion instrument. Both hands implement this same grip.
This Grip requires that one hand remains as matched grip while the other is in the actual traditional grip. For the traditional grip the fulcrum point is again located between the thumb and the index finger with the thumb sitting on top of the index finger between the first and second knuckle. This connection must constantly be maintained. There are common tendencies to push down and flex up the tip of the thumb. Avoid these by keeping the thumbs relaxed. The stick will rest on the fourth finger in a relaxed position, and the middle finger will rest beside the stick. Please be aware that the middle finger should simply be “along for the ride” and not used to generate a stroke by applying pressure. Keep all fingers relaxed and as curved as possible.
The Legato Stroke: The legato strokes are smooth connected relaxed strokes. It is often called the rebound stroke because the player allows the stick to come back up until forcing it back down. You can think of this stroke like dribbling a basketball, the only work you do is to push it back down until it comes back up. So you only do about half the work.
The Staccato Stroke: This stroke stops the immediate rebound of the stick; instead of letting the rebound express itself fully you stop it with the palm of your hand. There is a common tendency for people to squeeze tightly while performing this stroke, but as mentioned earlier you don’t want to squeeze the stick and risk performing a poor quality of music. Just make sure your grip around the stick is relaxed, firm, and let your palm prevent it from rebounding.
The Marcato Stroke: You can refer to the marcato stroke as the controlled rebound stroke. Both the staccato and marcato strokes control the rebounds of the stick, however, in the marcato stroke you’re using your fingers and holding the stick a little more than usual to stop the rebound. In this style every stroke is trying to get out the maximum velocity so it could be accented. Every note is accented which means that it would be louder than the normal strike of a stick at the same height.
There are four main categories of drum rudiments; these rudiments can be synonymous to the muscles in your body in a sense. An analogy could be that each corresponds to a different body part and if you don’t train/practice on one of these muscles you’ll be lacking in overall ability. These four categories are the roll, diddle, flam, and drag rudiments. The list of all the rudiments is rather lengthy. Finding content that contains all the main rudiments that a drummer should keep in his arsenal including hand patterns, sheet music, and video exercises of the rudiment exercises is essential. If you do not know how to read music, I will prepare an article soon to assist you but in the mean time check out JCriz's indepth guide to reading music. Remember be confident, stay relaxed, and have fun! Happy Drumming!