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  • Writer's picturePercussion IQ

Don't Underestimate Paradiddles

It’s one of the most common rudiments written every year. It’s easy to learn and fun to play at faster tempos. Unfortunately, most students struggle keeping the taps even, the accents consistent, and the rhythm accurate. Let’s dive into what makes this rudiment so difficult to master and how to develop corrective measures to get better at the paradiddle and all it’s different iterations.Let’s break down the stock paradiddle. Begins with a right hand accent, then left hand tap, and then two right hand taps, and then repeats off the left hand. What a lot of people don’t realize is you have 3 of our basic strokes demonstrated when playing two paradiddles.

Down Stroke - The accented hand stops the stick motion to be ready to play the first tap on that same hand
Double Stroke - The same hand that played the accented downstroke must follow up with a low double stroke
Full Stroke - The same hand that played the double stroke moves with a full stroke motion to the first tap after the next accent

You can practice moving through these 3 strokes by playing one hand only. For example, if you are practicing 16th note paradiddle in a 4/4 time signature, the right hand will play: 1 +a, e  ,3 +a, e   There’s a down stroke from “1” to the “+”, then a double stroke on the “+ a”, and a  full stroke motion from the “a” to the “e”. The most common issues I have run into:

  • The student over squeezes the stick on the first down stroke, resulting in tight grip on the double stroke, causing the diddle rhythm to be too tight

  • The student rushes the full stroke motion from the “a” to the next “e” after the opposite hand accent

  • The student keeps a closed grip after the “e” to the next accent motion, causing subsequent accents to be weak (usually a left hand issue, especially for snare drummers)

The multiple mechanics proves there’s a lot involved when mastering a paradiddles. Below are recommendations for breaking down the rudiment:

  1. One method that helped me (and applies to all rudiments) is mastering the isolated hand. Just playing a single hand break down allows the student to focus on the mechanic shifts between the different partials.

  2. A second method of breaking down paradiddles is mastering the motion removing 1 partial of the paradiddle. For example, don’t play the 2nd partial of the diddles (4th partial of the paradiddle)  to focus on the down stroke and full stroke motions. Then remove the 2nd partial of the paradiddle to focus on the down stroke and double stroke motions

  3. Play alternating singles with an accent on this first partial every 4 strokes. After drumming 16 partials, switch to 4 paradiddles at the same rhythm. Focus on consistent and even taps when transitioning to the paradiddle

  4. Practice paradiddles with no accents. Focus on even taps and minimal amount of pinching. Eventually add the accents on the paradiddle, but play barely higher than the taps. This will help the student reduce the amount of squeeze in the hand after each accent. Slowly increase the accent height.

Always master the rudiments at slower tempos, then work up the tempo. Be patient, mastering this rudiment is easier said than done. Let’s drum smart.

Author: Matthew Regua

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