At one point or another, all budding drummers will tackle certain rudiments. They are the vocabulary we need to be creative and translate rhythms onto the drum kit. The paradiddle, for me, along with double strokes is one of the most important technical exercises. The paradiddle not only allows us to move more freely around the drums, but they can be central to some awesome grooves and fills. Here are some paradiddle exercises for beginners that will set you on your way.
Initial Paradiddle Exercises
Firstly, we of course need to know what a paradiddle is. Simply, it is two single strokes followed by a double stroke. An easy way to remember this is think of the ‘diddle’ in the word paradiddle as ‘double’. Therefore, starting with our right hand (R), we have RLRR. Starting with our left hand (L), we have LRLL.
The first exercise is to commit this rhythm to muscle memory. Starting on your snare drum or practise pad, practise RLRR LRLL in succession. Start at a slow tempo and make sure they all have the same time value. In the chart below, we are using semi-quavers, or 16th notes (counting suggestion 1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a).
In the second exercise, we can start to use the paradiddles on different toms. The chart below is a suggestion of where you can use the sticking. For example, the first bar simply takes the paradiddle from the snare drum onto the high tom. The second bar is a particularly fun way to improve this rudiment as it doubles up as an effective fill. The right hand starts on the high tom, moving onto the medium and eventually the floor tom. With the left hand staying on the snare, see if you can accent those twos and fours.
The next exercise prepares us for a paradiddle groove. There are endless combinations when it comes to using this rudiment on the cymbals and snare and those of you who appreciate funky drumming will love this exercise. Place your right hand over your left onto the hi-hat and perform the paradiddles as 16th notes. Note in the second bar, the right hand switches onto the ride cymbal.
Continuing on from the groove in exercise 3, now try adding in your base drum on the one and three. If you try to accent your two and four like in the early exercises, suddenly we have a funky paradiddle groove.
The next step in this guide is to start mixing your paradiddles into your general play. Here we have a simple 8th note rock groove (beats 1 and 2) mixed in with our 16th note paradiddles (beats 3 and 4). The first couple of bars are performed on the hi-hat and snare only, whereas the third and fourth shows paradiddles performed as fills. This is a great exercise to improve your independence with this rudiment. Try not to stop at these examples; experiment with the same RLRR LRLL pattern (for beats 3 and 4) on different voices on the kit.
The final exercise is a follow on and slight variation of number 5. In this instance, we are once again using paradiddles as both grooves and fills, only this time we are performing them one after another. This can be tricky at first as it means negotiating your arms around the kit (e.g. bar 3 to 4 demands your right hand moving from your floor tom to your hi-hat). Therefore, start slow in order to build up a smooth rhythm.
As mentioned above, there are countless combinations to the use of paradiddles on the drum kit. Exercises like this are merely the first step in improving your independence with this sticking. Next up you can try the inverted paradiddle (RLLR LRRL), the reversed paradiddle (RRLR LLRL) and even more complex forms such as the 16th note triplets, paradiddle-diddles (RLRRLL). All these forms can be a mental workout, but trust me they are well worth the effort.
Part of the series of drum tips. Written by drum tutor James. Drum lessons are available at Booths Music in Bolton town centre on a daily basis. Please ring 01204 522908 for more details or enquire in the form below.
See also: Double strokes technique tips.
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