The single stroke roll is the first of many drum rudiments. These rudiments are the basic sticking patterns that a drummer will use to move around the drum kit.

A single stroke is a single hit with the stick; when we play single strokes one after another, we are playing a roll.

– Exercise One –

Using the technique learnt in the previous lessons, try and bounce each stick in turn on the practice pad or the drum. Start with the stick at 90 degrees to the surface, move only your wrist and try and get it to bounce back to the starting position. Remember to keep your hands relaxed and keep checking you are gripping the stick in the right place.

If you’re having trouble getting the stick to return to the starting position, try loosening your grip with the back fingers. Don’t worry if the stick occasionally flys out of your hand, your goal is to grip it as lightly as possible and it takes time to get used to the rebound.

Be aware that this will be a lot easier on your stronger hand, try and copy the good points over to the weaker hand.

By using the sticks rebound, we can use minimal energy to keep the stick bouncing. This motion is very similar to bouncing a basketball and you should keep this in mind while you are practicing.

– Exercise Two –

Once you can bounce the stick with each hand, you are now ready to play the single stroke roll. To play the roll, play alternate single strokes between the hands, starting with your stronger hand, i.e. RLRLRLRL etc.

That’s all there is to it!


Points to remember:

1) Try and keep the roll even, both the rhythm and the volume. Your weaker hand will most probably be a little quieter and a little slower at first, so you will need to work on your technique to allow you to play a fluid, balanced roll. To keep the volume even, try and get the sticks to bounce up to the same height on each hand.

2) Remember all the technique pointers from the last lesson: try not to let the sticks slip in your hands, keep your palms facing down and don’t grip too tightly.

3) Practice the roll at different speeds and volumes: slowly, quickly, quietly and loudly, and all possible combinations (loud/slow, loud/fast etc). This will improve your dynamic control and build both your speed and endurance.

Next Lesson > How To Play A Simple Drum Fill