Food for Thought...

I have a had little bit of time on my hands today and came across this article about the relevance of rudiments. I thought you guys could take a look at it for yourselves.

For me the jury is still out on how to take this article. On one hand I agree with some aspects of her ideas but on the other I am put off by the fact that I get the feeling she says that studying the rudiments is a complete waste of time.

Wanted to know what everyone here thinks.

Peace, love, and drumming.

I'm sort of on board with the article.  I was taught there are only 4 rudiments: single stroke, double stroke, triple stroke and flam.  Everything else is a combination of those.  I would say focusing on those fundamentals, and then breaking down ";rudimental"; music to show how the individual strokes, doubles, etc. are played is a good way to go.  I especially agree with eliminating the idea of 5, 7 stroke rolls and instead teach based on duple or triplet rolls.

But what do I know... the last percussion grad recital I went to consisted of tapping/tickling cymbals with fingers, playing 8th notes on an amplified triangle for 7 minutes, scraping pots with thimbles, and other shenanigans- so you can definitely get a Ph D without knowing your rudiments in modern higher education.
I definitely see where she's coming from. When I think about what I'm really teaching, I'm not teaching from a rudimental foundation, but I [i]am[/i] teaching rudiments. And Jesse's suggestion concerning learning 4 rudiments isn't a bad way to go.

The problem I have with this article is two-fold:

1. We are supposed to be training the ";whole"; percussionist these days. In this article, I feel like there is some condescending remarks focused on rudimental snare drummers. If we are really going to preach a ";whole"; percussion concept, isn't this one of the things we should be teaching? Why turn our noses up to marching band? Are we too good for it? If yes, then we better watch out. The last time I checked, I have a band directing gig mainly because of marching band. Also, most universities have drumlines, so incoming percussion majors are often wanting to or are required to participate in it, so we should make sure this is intact. Where does collegiate recruiting take place? At High Schools. Pretty much all of which are requiring their band students to march. What do they play when they march? Rudimental snare drum. There's a strong case to be made for making a ";Lesson 25"; less important, but non-existent? Are we okay with dismissing our heritage?

Rudimental playing is still alive in marching band and drum corps and while the rudiments have evolved, I think it's a big mistake to dismiss their usefulness.

2. I went to Bill Bachman's Rudimental Clinic at PASIC a few years back and it really changed my opinion of rudiments. He argues that by practicing all of your rudiments slow-fast-slow, you are creating an essentially complete vocabulary of movement. I might not play Triple Ratamacues in my symphony snare drum part, but if I've worked out the technique involved, it should make me more efficient at the motion and stroke I have to produce to play my orchestral music.

In the same way that I couldn't tell you when I played in G# minor last, I couldn't tell you when I saw some of the drag rudiments in actual music last. But, I can navigate all of my scales and arpeggios all the same. Where's the harm or less, the lack of efficiency in teaching students about the rudiments?

Is it the only thing out there to learn? No. We all need to be practicing our amplified triangle as well.
There are a lot of confusions and regardless to say, a lot of complications as well. I believe that this is just a thesis and it is solely based on a study research or just a hypothesis that have yet to prove the truth in it. But what I am thinking here is that it might be true that there are few more principles that are not well known or had been proven not much of a use.
I for one never studied all 40 rudiments, but I am aware of them all. I have mainly focused on the more common ones including 5 and 9 stoke rolls, flam taps, flam accents, and paradiddle combinations.

I do not agree that rudiments need to be changed at all. In fact, they are already by the wayside for many teachers; I don't know of a band director that makes his students focus on rudiments. The important ones come out of the woodwork at the right time. Surly there are some triple ratamacues down the road, but a true percussionist knows that they are not important to the developing drummer at first. To say that a band director would get the wrong idea because we list 40 rudiments is speaking to the fact that perhaps they need to pay attention in percussion tech during their college learning, or perhaps they should keep hiring percussion specialists like they already do. Perhaps we could just renumber them so the more useful ones are lower numbers.

Furthermore, to say that we could just learn all of our sticking patterns from the pieces we play is overestimating the volume of literature one plays in a school year. Rudiments can be used as a way to set an ideal and strive for it, independent of any one piece of music and apart from what any band director chooses to play that year. If I relied on my orchestral music to teach me now to drum, I'd be really great at counting rests and hitting the occasional boom crash. Often wind ensemble isn't much better.

Rudiments are chops builders and can be musicality builders as well; it depends on the teacher. Pruning or changing the rudiment list is an okay idea to explore, but why axe the paradiddle? It's a classic sticking that deserves more than second billing. Let's keep the whole list and use it how we do right now, picking and choosing which to teach and accentuate. 
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