Category Archives: Single Strokes

Wednesday: Basic Strokes

Today’s challenge is to learn and play Murray Gusseck’s “Basic Strokes” as played by the Santa Clara Vanguard drumline in 2004. You can watch the drumline play the exercise here:

And here:

As you can tell, the exercise is quite long and involved. As such, I have uploaded the 9-page pdf file here. Spend some quality time playing these patterns with a metronome (80 bpm seems like a good place to start), and after having worked out the ending, try playing with the videos a couple times. Have fun!

Post tempo, experiences, and Vanguard hype to comments.

Tuesday: Legatos Pyramid

Warm-up: Play 5 minutes of hand-to-hand flams at a variety of heights and rhythms.

Skill work: Learn and master this stroke progression, the Legatos Pyramid:

The dynamic markings are there to give you a sense of how high and loud to play each rhythm: the quarter-note triplets should be loud and full strokes, whereas the 8th-note triplets should be medium half strokes. Work this exercise with a metronome from 100 to 130 bpm at 5 bpm increments.

Challenge: Can you play this Legatos Pyramid as all single strokes (making each rhythm twice as fast)? Keep the same structure with the dynamics and measures.

Post tempos and single-stroke variations to comments.


Warm-up: Spend 4 minutes playing three’s (RRR LLL) and tap five’s (R llrr L rrll). Use “Earth” by Imogen Heap for tempo.

Skill work: Introducing a new pattern today: ABAA BABB. This means play pattern A, then pattern B, then pattern A twice. Then repeat off the “B” pattern. Check it out below, using 16th’s (A) and 32nd’s (B) as the two patterns:

Spend some time working these patterns out, always with a metronome, and also feel free to experiment with other stickings (paradiddle the 32nd’s, double the 16th’s, etc.).

Challenge: Read “Reflecting on The Red Plane” by Lydia Ness, an article explaining the deeper meaning behind RCC’s show this season. What is your red plane, your dream, your passion?

Post tempos, heights, and red planes to comments.

Tuesday: Multiple Grips

Warm-up: Spend 4 minutes alternating between 8 bars of flams and 8 bars of roll. Be creative, and use “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson for tempo.

Skill work: Read Murray Gusseck’s article “Around the World (with velocity)”. Spend 15 minutes playing various one-hand 16th note patterns with different grips. Step outside of your comfort zone, and experiment with German (wrist), French (finger), American (wrist and finger), and traditional (right and left hands).

Challenge: Pick your weakest grip combination (left French and right traditional, for example) and spend 5 minutes playing single strokes as fluidly as possible. How fast can you play one bar of 16th notes with this grip?

Post experiences, grips, and tempos to comments.

Tuesday: Use Your Feet!

Something a little different today on Rudimental “Hands”… we’re going to drum with our feet! If you are a marching percussionist, learning to play pedals with your feet will only enhance your overall sense of timing, groove, and verticality between limbs.

Skill work: Work on these Fundamental Patterns for Hands and Feet for 20 minutes. We are playing single and double strokes in every possible combination for four limbs. Begin slowly (80 bpm), and increase the tempo only when comfortable. Today’s goal is consistency of rhythm, not speed.

Note: If you do not have access to two pedals, then simply tapping your foot works great! Try to keep your heel down while tapping on the ball of your foot.

Tuesday: Moeller Singles

Warm-up: Spend 5 minutes playing a mixture of singles and doubles with a variety of grips (American, French, German, traditional, with both hands). Use “Wide Eyes” by Local Natives for tempo.

Skill work: Spend 15 minutes working on your “soft accent” or “semi-Moeller” technique. Use this basic singles exercise phrased in 12/8. The motion should initiate from the elbow at medium tempos, the wrist at fast tempos, and the back of the hand at extreme tempos. Start at 100 bpm to gain fluency, then gradually increase the tempo as you feel the fulcrum shift forward.

Challenge: Read “Striking a Balance Between Facility and Musicianship” by Mark Manczuk from Vic Firth’s The Exchange. If you are following the Rudimental Hands program, then you are on your way towards achieving a masterful facility with sticks. What are you doing to work on your musicianship?

Post tempos for the singles and thoughts on the article to comments.

Thursday: Triplet Grid and Singles

Warm-up: Spend 4 minutes playing paradiddles and choo-choo’s (flam the 3rd note of a paradiddle). Play along with “Go Do” by Jonsí.

Skill work: The Triplet Grid. Simply put, every rudimental percussionist must know and master this classic pattern. I have included 4 single-accent variations here. As we have done with other grids, insert diddles, flams, and buzzes on the downbeat as you gain familiarity.

Challenge: Jeff Prosperie and the Hellcats recently released a great YouTube video about how to play fast singles. How fast can you play singles in the triplet grid? Start at at dotted 1/4-note = 100 bpm, and increase the tempo by 8 bpm as you feel comfortable. Focus on the middle partial accents as well.

Post variations on the grid and tempos for the singles to comments.