Is there any benefit in drilling rudiments for long periods of time?


Senior Member
But nobody goes from just learning the alphabet to write either War and Peace or The Cat In The Hat.

Which leads back to the original question "Is there any benefit in drilling rudiments for long periods of time?"

My answer would be Yes or No.

No - if that is all one does with them. Endlessly repeating "a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a" before moving on to "b b b b b b b b b b b b b b b b" - there is no path IMO from doing that to writing anything. So it is with ONLY practicing rudiments - one at a time - slow to fast to slow. A perfectly fine exercise - and one that really does require much repetition to see the full benefit from.... but is only the beginning of the study of rudiments.

Just as schoolchildren, having learned the alphabet, then move on to grammar and vocabulary - so it with rudiments.

Rudiments are the basic components of most all drumming - so like we use the alphabet to create words and those words to create phrases. We do the same with rudiments. How?

Well with children, we don't just teach them the alphabet and then say... OK you've got the building blocks.... have at it. Read this book.. Write that novel. No we take them through building words.... making phrases.... step by step until they are capable of translating thought to paper themselves - in competent cohesive manner.

This is where the books by the authors Todd listed come in - as they are instruction manuals, worksheets and exercise books that take us from "See Dick and Jane" to reading Dickens and writing term papers. They are musical grammar books - that instruct us how to utilize our "alphabet" to make music. In this case, the music of the snare drum.

This is why I harp on teachers about this - why I say "if you are just showing students to play rudiments only as that play them repeatedly over and over again exercises (a a a a a a a a a a a a) then you really aren't teaching them rudiments". Only by tagging through Hard, Wilcoxon, then Podemski, Goldenberg, Peters, and Cirone are they learning to actually USE rudiments. Learning how to use them musically and thus, be able to incorporate them into their playing.

Certainly every player isn't going to make it though that whole list - but in my experience, anyone that hasn't chewed through a good chunk of it will have audible, discernible holes in their playing... holes in that vocabulary, in their range of expression. And as so much of this stuff is at the root of all of our playing - it will be recognizable.

Does this mean a player might not find their niche - where their limitations are not a hindrance? Absolutely they might. But it will be noticeable. And it will limit their range of opportunities.

So sorry - at least in my opinion - what Todd wrote was the furthest thing from being absurd.

My 2 cents
To further reinforce your points and Todd's, here are some words from George Lawrence Stone (taken from his Technique of Percussion column):

"A reader writes: 'A brother drummer claims that there are only two rudiments in drumming, the single stroke and the double stroke, and that these are all you have to know. Is this right?'

Yes, reader, it's right as far as it goes. Tell the brother there are only twenty-six letters in the alphabet, and that's all he has to know, until he finds out they have to be strung together in some sort of way before they make sense."


Senior Member
I've heard that too for singles and doubles (alternating flams could be described as just doubles). My thoughts are it depends what's meant by 'drilling'... aiming for speed on a practice pad maybe not so useful musically but sometimes it's fun to practice like this whilst not at the kit to keep hands in good shape. Apparently Tony Williams used to do rudiments on the pad in front of the TV as part of his daily practice.

Rudiments on a snare with a focus on touch, grip, evenness of sound, dynamics etc is really beneficial. Playing Ravel's bolero snare part with single stroke sticking for almost 15 mins with an orchestra is a good example where the focus is on sound, dynamics etc and not on speed and it's such a roast, I'd say definitely beneficial.



Platinum Member
some words from George Lawrence Stone (taken from his Technique of Percussion column):

"A reader writes: 'A brother drummer claims that there are only two rudiments in drumming, the single stroke and the double stroke, and that these are all you have to know. Is this right?'

Yes, reader, it's right as far as it goes. Tell the brother there are only twenty-six letters in the alphabet, and that's all he has to know, until he finds out they have to be strung together in some sort of way before they make sense."

That book is incredible. All these same conversations have been happening for the last ~75-100 years.


If it satisfies your soul absolutely. I have caught myself sitting on the couch, with the pad, running singles or doubles endlessly.

Do I need to? No, absolutely not. I'm also sure that at some point it stops being beneficial.

Drumming doesnt have to be anything more that you want it to be. If being the most technically advanced basement dweller makes you happy, do that. If playing 4/4 for the rest of your life makes you happy, do that.

The only thing really important about this instrument is whether or not playing it makes you happy. Everything else is secondary.
Inspirational mate, nice..


Senior Member
Of course, they don't. Who said they did?

Both use the same building blocks. Learn them and the rest is up to an individual's talent and creative ability.

The problem with what seems to be the prevailing attitude towards playing the drums, is people making it more complicated and difficult than it is for those who need only as much technical prowess as is required to express themselves.

Complicated academic studies, while having a use, are too often assigned far more importance than is practicably applicable. They are not meant for everyone.
First of all - what you are categorizing as "complicated academic studies" have for decades (more like for a century) have been considered just the raw basics. The time-tested, long standing answer to the question "How do I go about being a good drummer?" - "Well, you'll need to learn this..."

We are not talking advanced college studies or prepping for symphony orchestra auditions - we are just talking walking into the local music store and asking for lesson to become a "good drummer" - meaning someone that play in their school band or orchestra (and not be lost), someone that could decently play the popular music of the day.

The basics.

Yes Todd's list went a bit beyond that - but you don't seem to recognize the need for much of any of that. That picking up enough to "express oneself" is all there is to it. So I guess that turns the discussion to - "What do you mean by express yourself?"

My 2 year old grandson has no problem expressing himself at my drum set (and having a marvelous time doing it). Yes that is extreme example - but I think one that we need to try and clarify.

I take "wanting to be a good drummer" as the desire to do those things "a good drummer can do". And that isn't that subjective of a list of skills. But I guess it is subjective.

So if your description of a "good drummer" is one that can hold their own playing a number of different beats at a limited range of tempos - whose feel or time starts to falter (or fall apart) when playing fills or catching accents. Or who simply avoids doing those things - even though the music suffers without them. If that is your "good drummer" - then never mind as this whole discussion is just a disagreement over semantics - a definition - meaning we are talking about two very different things.

But if not, if your definition of a "good drummer" is one that can express themselves in the ways that good drummers are able to. I know that sounds like circular logic - but it really isn't. We define "good drummer" by listening to drummers - hearing what they do and what it will take to learn what they do. Can all of these things be self-taught? Absolutely. But for most it will take far longer - leaving most to give up before they can get there. Get that place where their ability to express themselves lines up with their vision of being a good drummer.

I can't emphasize enough - that no one is making anything more complicated. I've taught tons of players that are no longer kids - went about as you describe - and finally realize the brick wall they being stymied by was inevitable and totally predictable. And then they have to set themselves to learn basics - ten, fifteen years into their journeys. And it is much much harder to do at that point. Some continue, and eventually get it together.... most finally give up in frustration.

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Now if you take these things through subdivisions, time signatures, in different tempos, as part of etudes, spread them around the kit and use them as parts of grooves, fills and solos.

As for long periods, you have to be able to do things at the level you aspire to through whole songs, whole sets and shows, so conditioning, consistency and control is a huge deal.

Work on it in context......and you'll be good at doing it in context.

Back to the question, imo, there’s no use to drilling down rudiments once you’ve reached their perfection at a speed that’s reasonably fast. Then move on to mixing them, accents, etc..and their application on the drum kit. If you need books bc you’re stymied and confused, OK. Imo, depends on the music genre of interest. Do your homework: listen a lot to those drummers of interest.

I think you’re mostly right, with the caveat that rudiments need to be practiced with displaced accents, at all volumes, AROUND THE KIT, including between hands and feet, in order to unlock your creativity. Just drilling them at medium loud on a snare or pad isn’t going to build your skills sufficiently. It’s important, but it’s just the beginning.
These guys are correct.
After you learn the rudiment, practice it in context with a song.
Here is what I did many years ago for many hours at a time:
Sit at the drum kit. Select one rudiment. Put on the radio. Play the rudiment through the whole song no matter what tempo the song is at. Move around the kit playing that one rudiment. Add accents.
Do the same thing for the next song that comes up. And the next song. Etc.

The next day select a different rudiment. Do the same thing with this new rudiment to whatever song comes up. etc.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat.


Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
By the way. let me explain one of the benefits of practicing the rudiments on a drum kit.
The paradiddle is a perfect example. When I first learned to play the drums I always had to start my simple single stroke drum fill around the toms with my right hand. This was so that I ended the simple fill with my right hand and then I could crash the cymbal with my right on the 1. After becoming proficient with the paradiddle on the kit, I could start a fill with any hand and do a quick double hit with any hand so that the fill would end correctly. Or end any way I needed it to end. Well, you get the idea. The paradiddle did a whole lot to improve my stick independence around the kit.

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Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Alan Dawson always had students practicing in the context of a song.

I didn't have many lessons with Gary Chaffee, but that's what he did too and just looking at his books that isn't necessary clear.


Well-known Member
I don't know what your long period of time is yes it's a good thing to do rudiments at least half an a day if you can thats what I do it really helps with coordination around the kit thats me.


Diamond Member
🚧 🚧 marching drummer nerd observation 🚧 🚧

After reading the whole thread, I feel that one thing that has not been mentioned is that the whole concept of "rudimental drilling" and everything being broken down to singles, doubles, triples, and flams (which are actually broken down to a combination of a downstroke and an up stroke), comes from the marching world, and many of the (early) drum set greats had done some form of marching percussion when they were young. Then it was brought over to drumset as the pedagogy of that instrument evolved in the 40's and 50's. Most of the guys who wrote the foundational drum set practice books.....were not drum set players first. They were orchestral/marching guys trying to apply what they knew to the "new instrument"

and it exactly applies to all kinds of drumming: I use my "millenia" of rudimental playing (which I find to be way more fun/Zen than just money beat all day) in every percussive situation I have ever been in: drum set; marimba; orchestral; tympani; hand drumming...I even use rudimental patterns in my right fingers when I play bass guitar

once we get into the mindset that any form of practice is a "waste of time", we start instantly limiting our possibilities...