It takes constant practice to be an excellent drummer. There are many exercises available to help drummers improve their drumming technique, strengthen their weak areas, and increase the chances of becoming professionals.
Every drummer requires drum exercises, which are rhythmic patterns that help in developing drumming coordination and independence.
The drum exercises explored in this article are great for both beginning and advanced drummers. After practicing these drum exercises, you can be assured that your speed, independence, and control will improve.
If you’re unfamiliar with drum notation, be sure to take some time to learn about reading drum sheet music prior to learning these exercises.
Table of Contents
- Drum Warm Up Exercises
- Basic Rudiments to Learn
- Practice Pad Warmups
- Snare Drum Kit Exercises
- Drum Exercises for Speed
Drum Warm Up Exercises
Drumming, like many other physical activities, requires that you warm up your muscles to encourage your limbs to work in coordination.
Although warm-up exercises vary in difficulty, you should concentrate on the ones that match your skill level.
There are so many simple warm-up exercises you can use to improve your drumming.
Basic Rudiments to Learn
Drum rudiments are the building blocks for all beats, drum fills, or patterns you can play on the drum set. They can also be seen as drum patterns which can be developed into more complex drum patterns.
These rudiments are simply designed to be played on one surface, like a drum practice pad, and will help you discover innovative ways to express yourself on the drums.
Single Stroke Roll
This essential drum rudiment is often played in beats, drum fills and drum solos. It is vital for all skill levels and is notated as:
The Single Stroke Roll is performed using simple alternating single strokes (R, L, R, L).
All the strokes should be at an even volume, and the sticks should reach an even height when they come up for each stroke.
After practicing this on a pad, you can move on to the kit and then play with a metronome with a higher tempo. This will help to increase your speed and endurance.
It is recommended that you practice this rudiment in front of a mirror so you can watch your hands properly.
Double Stroke Roll
To become a professional drummer, one needs to master this rudiment down to perfection. It forms the foundation for a lot of other necessary drum rudiments and is popularly used within beats and fills.
Its drum notation form is:
To start, use your wrists for each stroke and keep both alternating strokes at an even volume.
Ensure that the heights of the stick during each stroke come up to an even distance from the drum head to avoid an uneven and sloppy sound.
After mastering this basic ‘wrist’ pattern, speed it up. With constant practice, you will be able to bounce the sticks to get double strokes and play with higher speed.
The paradidle can be played within grooves, drum fills, and solo patterns.
Drummers who want to expand their drumming possibilities will need this essential rudiment.
Here is its basic sticking pattern:
It combines both single strokes and double strokes. The first half of the rudiment starts by playing two alternating singles, before playing a double.
Next, you make the exact pattern leading with the opposite hand. When combined, this forms the single paradiddle.
This fun rudiment is a 12-note pattern often used in a 12/8 feel, or in beats and fills that have a triplet feel. It is perfect for styles like Jazz and Latin.
The only difference between this rudiment and the single paradiddle is that you play four alternating single strokes rather than two.
You start with four alternating singles leading into a double and repeat the pattern leading with the opposite hand. This will give you a 12-note rudiment.
Single Stroke Seven
Although not as common as the others, this rudiment will fit nicely into your drumming.
The Triplets rudiment resembles the single stroke roll but is played in groups of seven strokes.
Here is its notation:
This favorite drum rudiment integrates the basic flam into a double stroke pattern. It can be used within musical drum beats, fills, and solo patterns. Here is its drum notation:
The pattern starts out with a right-handed flam and right-handed single stroke. You will then repeat the pattern using the left hand by playing a left-handed flam followed by a left-handed single stroke.
The double stroke pattern will repeat in the second half of the measure. Your focus while playing the double strokes is perfect timing. The flam strokes added should not affect the main strokes’ timing.
Practice Pad Warmups
Now that you have a solid foundation of rudiments, let’s have a look at some practice pad warmups you should include in your daily routine.
Eights may seem elementary, but I promise, it’s one of the best warmups for your practice pad routine.
Put on your favorite tunes and start hammering away at those rights and lefts!
The “Wipeout” Warmup
Who didn’t learn how to play Wipeout by The Surfaris? I can recall being in the band room in grade six trying to impress my friends with how fast I could play the tune.
There’s an awesome warm up that was originally published on Drum Articles — sadly, the website no longer is online.
It incorporates single, double, and triple paradiddles. If you don’t know how to play paradiddles, I suggest learning, as they’re some of the most versatile rudiments you’ll use while playing.
Try it out for yourself. Start slow.
Switching between single, double, and triple paradiddles is challenging at first, so be sure to practice along with a metronome. Start around 60BPM if you’re new to the rudiment.
One of my favorite warmup exercises I learned when in college is New Mojo from the Cavaliers. It’s based off sixteenth and triplet diddles.
Snare Drum Kit Exercises
The snare drum independence is the ability to play snare drum rhythms that are different from the patterns performed by the other parts of your limbs.
Beginners are advised to play these exercises on the left, while intermediate drummers will enjoy playing them on the right.
More advanced players may play the snare patterns over rhythmic patterns that are more challenging.
Drum Exercises for Speed
Speed is required if you want to fly around the drum kit as a drummer. The best way to do this is firstly by improving your hand technique.
Next, you should set up your drums in a way that will make it easier for you to reach everything easily.
Another key to increasing your speed is to do so gradually while practicing each exercise, and always keep your muscles relaxed.
Furthermore, it is vital to develop proper drumstick technique, practice swing pattern drum exercises, and use sticks that are heavier than your regular drum sets, so your usual drum sticks will feel better when you switch to them.
You will find more on different types of drum sticks at Music Groupies.
Drum Set Exercises
Most of these exercises focus on the synchronization of hand to feet with both single and double stroke rolls. When you are learning using basic patterns, it is best to play these warm-up exercises along with a metronome.
While warming up with the drum set, you can also improve your timing and control.
The first drum set exercise begins with the feet playing eighth notes alternating while using your hands to play the sixteenth notes on the snare drum.
Although the second exercise sounds just like the first one, you will have to play it differently. As in the first exercise, your feet are playing the same eighth note pattern, and your hands are playing the sixteenth notes on the snare.
However, you will have to play doubles back and forth instead of alternating on every stroke. Doing this will change the line up of your hands with your feet.
The focus will be on playing the first stroke of the right hand along with the right foot. Same applies for the left hand and left foot.
When playing this third exercise, the first half begins just like the first exercise. However, when you get to its second half, the single strokes will change to double strokes at twice the tempo.
Be careful not to play the double strokes the same way you played in the second exercise.
This final warm-up uses the pattern of the first exercise while moving it around the toms. In this two-bar exercise, the first measure moves down the toms, while the second moves back up.
Here are some other drum exercises for speed:
To improve speed, independence, and control, the drum exercises provided above involve short bursts of notes.
When practiced consistently for 1 or 2 weeks, these simple exercises will increase your speed and boost your overall performance.