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Single Strokes

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  • Single Strokes

    Hello,

    I am still a beginning drummer (the V's are my first drumset, purchased about 8 months ago) and I am determined to master the single stroke roll. I realize that good single stroke technique is key to learning the rest of the rudiments so I am concentrating on this first and foremost (my double strokes are fairly solid by now -- they came much easier than single strokes). I know exactly what my problem is. My left hand cannot "dribble" the stick like the right hand, using fingers only. The muscles are not developed enough and I can't seem to get them to that point. So my question is what exercises can I do to develop speed with the left hand, besides practicing on a pillow/rug which I have been doing for a while. Perhaps I am overlooking some technique -- I notice while practicing the "dribble" that my left hand tends to loose its grip and rotate much more than the right and eventually I have to choke back on the stick. This is obviously not good. Also it seems difficult to keep the stick parallel to my thumb, which comes naturally on my right hand. I have tried bigger sticks, and even started using the mouse with my left hand for 100% of my computer use. (This BTW is a great solution if you have pains or carpal tunnel using the mouse with your right hand like me.) But still I cannot build up the muscle strength and memory on my left hand. So if you struggled with your single stroke roll like me, please offer your experience!

    Thanks!

    BTW I realize that mesh heads are not ideal to learn rudiments on, so I intend to get a nice practice pad as well.
    Roland TD-20 v1.08, various v-drums and v-cymbals, Yamaha KP65's, Axis pedals, Gibraltar hardware, Mackie 1202/SRM450 (pre-china)

  • #2
    Thanks for the advice Feefer. Just to clarify, I meant that single strokes are *a* key technique in playing rudiments, not *the* key technique. I realize there is much much more to the rudiments than single strokes.

    Looking over the more complicated rudiments, I see that for the most part, they can all be broken down into single and double strokes (and sometimes triple). That is why I figured it would help tremendously to learn a proper single stroke roll. Not so much for playing actual single stroke rolls, but to provide a good foundation for learning the rest of the rudiments.

    As for paradiddles, I can play them relatively fast, but I can't really get them up to speed. Since paradiddles are really a combination of single and double strokes, I assume the reason I can't play them very fast is because I have not yet mastered the single stroke roll?


    [This message has been edited by ufotofu (edited December 05, 2001).]
    Roland TD-20 v1.08, various v-drums and v-cymbals, Yamaha KP65's, Axis pedals, Gibraltar hardware, Mackie 1202/SRM450 (pre-china)

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    • #3
      You may want to see an instructor who can observe your technique and suggest improvements.

      One instructor gave me a lesson to improve the left: play six, evenly sounding notes, three left and then three right, repeatedly; then move on to 12 total by playing six left and six right, and then 18 (9 left/9 right). I never really practiced this lesson very much so I can't say if it was beneficial. But my left is pretty weak in comparison to my right (mostly in double strokes) so maybe I should work on it again.

      And watch out for that carpal tunnel stuff. It mess you up.

      DJourg

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      • #4
        That dribbling technique is certainly valid and the bouncy feel of a mesh head aids this technique but in my experience the ability to play smooth, even singles is a result of arm, wrist and finger motion. Improvement is a very slow process and I am not aware of any shortcuts. The help of a qualified instructor would be worthwhile at this point. If you were my student I might suggest playing slow single strokes using only wrist motion to isoloate that part of your technique and build some facility there (but then again I might not, depending on what your technique really looks/sounds like).

        Don't be too concerned with speed--it will come eventually. Focus on playing smooth, even strokes with a good full-bodied tone.
        Check out my music: http://www.myspace.com/kellypaletta

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DJourg:
          One instructor gave me a lesson to improve the left: play six, evenly sounding notes, three left and then three right, repeatedly; then move on to 12 total by playing six left and six right, and then 18
          Thanks DJourg, actually I do this one a lot, and it works great as a warm-up. I only wish I could get my left hand going as fast as the right, although I suppose I will be happier than a pig in dirt when I get there (if I get there).
          Roland TD-20 v1.08, various v-drums and v-cymbals, Yamaha KP65's, Axis pedals, Gibraltar hardware, Mackie 1202/SRM450 (pre-china)

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks klp -- I will keep all of that in mind. Since everyone has recommended that I find an instructor, I might have to get off my lazy ass and do just that.
            Roland TD-20 v1.08, various v-drums and v-cymbals, Yamaha KP65's, Axis pedals, Gibraltar hardware, Mackie 1202/SRM450 (pre-china)

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            • #7
              Hey Ufotofu:

              Where in Florida are you. You have almost the same setup.

              Dave

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              • #8
                Indialantic (across the river from Melbourne). Yeah, vdrums.com is my favorite consulting firm.
                Roland TD-20 v1.08, various v-drums and v-cymbals, Yamaha KP65's, Axis pedals, Gibraltar hardware, Mackie 1202/SRM450 (pre-china)

                Comment


                • #9
                  you may want to practice on the carpet or a pillow, or couch cushion. There is no bouncback, or hardly at all, and maybe this technique will help build your finger speed. Edrum heads are so tight and springy that you can do a double roll at almost twice the speed of that on normal mylar heads.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Eric:
                    Edrum heads are so tight and springy that you can do a double roll at almost twice the speed of that on normal mylar heads.
                    Ah, that's what I was afraid of. I do practice on pillows, and when I get back on the mesh heads I find it difficult to adjust to the bounce. I suppose the best thing to do is become familiar to as many playing surfaces as possible.
                    Roland TD-20 v1.08, various v-drums and v-cymbals, Yamaha KP65's, Axis pedals, Gibraltar hardware, Mackie 1202/SRM450 (pre-china)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This is more for single stroke even-ness than speed, but I started doing it last night on my club set. Crank the tempo up to 120 or so, hit record, and just practice your rolls. Then drop the tempo to like 60 or so (using shift-decrement makes this easier, for any newbies like me), and play it back. I found out that my left hand was coming in to early. Do quarters or something on the bass so you can figure out where the beat is easier when you replay it.

                      This brings up a question for the pros, tho. When recording like this, does the TD6 move the notes you play to the closest "beat", or does it come back exactly as you played it?
                      -Pete

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                      • #12
                        pjames, the feature you are referring to is "quantization," where the notes are automatically moved to the nearest assigned note value.

                        I don't know about the TD-6, but it is a feature in the TD-10 that you can turn on and off. Works great for creating a "drum machine"-type loop, to give it a very mechanical feel.

                        For ufotofu: Single-stroke rolls are sort of a benchmark among rudiments. On the surface, they seem like the easiest of all to do, but as you progress, you find that they are one of the least forgiving as far as inconsistency and bad technique, and will quickly show up any deficiencies.

                        Although I'm not a teacher, I'd have to say that one of the best exercises for improving single-strokes is to do single-strokes. Grip is a key point, as is technique. My single-stroke speed comes primarily from the wrist, with my elbows & upper arms remaining essentially motionless. Always start slow, stay relaxed (Jim Chapin taught me that one: "Tension=slow, relaxed=fast."), and don't sacrifice control for speed. The speed will come. With grip, the further forward you move your "fulcrum" on the stick, the more control you have over the stick, but gravity and inertia give you less help with your downstroke. If you are laying pretty far back on the stick, try sliding your fulcrum point just 1/2 inch forward. You may find that you get a little more bounce from the stick, since it is closer to being in balance from front to rear. Experiment.

                        The multiple-strokes with each hand are a great idea. As a matter of fact, back in my marching days, we used to do warm-up exercises that consisted of playing single-strokes combining normal and accented strokes in a specific pattern with one hand, then repeating the exercise with the other hand. Start slow, then gradually increase the tempo to the fastest you can play in a controlled, accurate fashion with your weaker hand. Play several repetitions at this speed.

                        If you like, e-mail me off the forum, and I'll make a quick transcription of the exercise and send it to you. Like someone else said, paradiddles are another really fundamental rudiment, and one that I've used in a variety of ways on the drumset. You'd be really surprised at how much the rudiments translate to all genres of music on the drum kit.

                        A piece of advice on the subject: Get a good practice pad, such as a Remo pad or even a Real Feel rubber pad, and work on your rudiments every day. Pay special attention to the ones you hate and are difficult! To this day, I can't stand flamadiddles and flamacues, and wish I'd spent more time learning to love them when I was a young pup.

                        There is no subtitute for practice and hard work. Be patient.

                        -Danny

                        [This message has been edited by fartnokker (edited December 06, 2001).]
                        -Danny

                        Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

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                        • #13
                          I don't know anything. I just play.

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