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Single Stroke Roll

The single stroke roll is the first rudiment we start to practice.

A single stroke is very self explanatory we play R / L hitting one time alternating hands.

If we play R L R L R L R L and so on we get a single stroke roll.

remember we are in 4/4 measure. so groupings of 4

This all sounds pretty easy but lets go over how to practice and what we should be doing to achieve this to work well in a musical context and sound seamless and balanced.

First of all we are going to play the R L R L R L R L repetition at exactly the same volume or dynamics and without any accents what so ever.

If we start at a slow speed (60 BPM) we can get used to playing this very quickly and then slowly pushing up the speed with 2 to 4 BPM intervals,we will get to a point were we need to use the wrists and arms and finger control all seamlessly together.

I like to call this Phase 1 ,2 and 3.

Phase 1 being the use of arms only,phase 2 being the use of wrists and phase 3 finger control.

To achieve top speed and control we need to learn how to use all these phases and make smooth transitions between them or using different phases both at the same time.

So lets imagine we can only use phase 1(arms),well we will only get to a certain tempo before physically things will start working against us.

We can grip the sticks tight to avoid using finger control and not move the wrists holding them in a straight line position with the arm.

Arms are great for power and moving around the kit but they can only move so fast before the weight of your arms is against you instead of being in your favour.

So what happens if we can only use phase 2 (wrists).

Push your arms into the side of your body,so you cannot use them and you only us your wrists to play the pattern now if we grip the sticks tight and not using our fingers either then we can see how fast we can get just using wrists.

You will see that you can play a little faster but when moving the wrist at higher speeds then we will get to the point were cramps start,this is because arms and wrists use bigger muscles then fingers.

Let´s check how fast we can go with finger control only we will block our arms by pushing them into our sides keep the wrist static in a straight position and only use the bounce of the snare to get the single stroke.

You will see that playing at a slow tempo is very tricky as you will need to control the bounce of the stick.

Drop the stick once to generate the first bounce.

by using finger technique we actually take advantage from the synergy coming back from every impact before and helping it along with a tiny little push, we can go faster because there is much less muscle mass to move and the smaller the element of our body we use the faster it can move and the less energy we will consume in the process.

So speed can only be achieved under control by using the least possible tension in your body and physical power used!!!

This all sounds strange but it really is how it works.

Now what is important.

Lets play a single stroke roll and start with our arms , phase 1 and slowly increment the speed of the roll, you will come to a point where it is more and more efficient to start using the wrist and less efficient to use the arms , slowly but surely you will use more and more wrist control and less and less arms control.

As we get faster and faster progressively , using phase 1 and 2 together we will come to a point where it will be more efficient to use finger control phase 3 and less efficient to use phase 1 and 2.

As we approach top speed phase 3 will be used and phase 1 and 2 almost not.

Then we reverse from top speed going all the way back to the beginning point of the roll at slow speed.

You will have to find out for yourself how much phase 1 ,2 or 3 to use as everybody has a slightly different body.

It´s not simply changing from 1 to the other.


For us to get a smooth roll from slow to fast we have to slowly make the transition between these phases and know how much of each to use at certain speeds.

We can combine arms wrists and finger technique all at the same time to achieve our goal of playing a single stroke roll fast,balanced and controlled.

At certain speeds more will be used from one or the other phase as energetically it´s more favourable for consumption of energy from our body and how much we get back from the bounce of the snare.

The less energy we use and the more efficient we retake the energy coming back the longer and better we will be able to play a single stroke roll specially at high speed.

Arms are used at slow speeds medium speed can be less arms more wrists and at high speeds very little arm control little wrist control and most finger control.

If your able to go from slow to fast and all the notes sound the same and there is no bumps in the movement it will be seamless balanced and controlled by you and it will sound amazing.

Do the same process playing just R R R R R R R R or L L L L L L L L continuously on hand at a time.

slow to fast going through phases 1,2 and 3

You can find out by doing this what the top speed is for your right hand and what the top speed is for your left hand.

and then when playing a single stroke roll you already know that you will not be able to go faster then your weakest top speed played with Right or Left.

I hope you find this information useful.

have a great practice session.

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