Single and Double Strokes – The Meat and Potatoes of Drumming

Single and double strokes. Snare drum with drumsticks on top.

[Says in Homer Simpson’s voice] “Mmm…I like meat and potatoes!”.

Sorry, I digress. I forgot to eat breakfast this morning and I guess I’m hungrier than I realized.

But food can wait!

I have more important things to do at the moment, and one of those things is discussing the ‘bread and butter‘ of every drummer’s arsenal…

Mmm…I like bread and butter…

Sorry. You’ll have to forgive me, I’m getting off topic again.


Single strokes and double strokes are the main options you have while playing the drums. That’s why it’s so important to get comfortable with both of these techniques. They will serve you well your entire drumming career.

So with that being said, if you aren’t practicing single stroke rolls and double stroke rolls, you are doing yourself a mighty disservice. Improving your singles and doubles is a simple way of noticeably improving your playing ability. I don’t think I stated that as well as I had intended. Let me try again.

By doing something as simple as practicing your singles and doubles each day, you can drastically improve your overall chops on the drums. Small steps for large gains.

But just practicing your singles and doubles is not the ultimate goal. You want to get to the point where you can effortlessly blend single strokes and double strokes together with no audible change in sound or pace. It should be one fluid flurry of notes, and it should get to the point where it’s as ‘easy as pie‘ for you to play…

…I’m going to see how many food references I can slip in undetected into this post. Lofty goals I know.

So, in a nutshell, if you don’t have a practice pad, you should think about getting one. It’s okay if you don’t though, you can use your snare drum, or if you’re really in a pickle, you could even use a pillow (great for building strength).

Consider hopping over to Zzounds and checking out some of their practice pads. The reason I recommend purchasing a drum practice pad is that they are super mobile and you can practice your rudiments while watching television all without driving your significant other out of their mind with all your racket.

Seriously. Drum practice pads are like the best thing since sliced bread.

There are plenty of great exercises you can do that combine singles and doubles. And it only takes 10 to 15 minutes of practice each day to see real improvements in a shorter time than you might think.

Mastering single strokes and double strokes is the first step towards landing that plumb job of drumming for a living. Assuming that is what you want. If you like doing what you do currently, then that’s cool too.

They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too, but I say you can get darn close by practicing combining single stroke rolls and double stroke rolls on a practice pad in addition to using a metronome.

That’s another thing. I also recommend, and I would say it’s borderline mandatory that you as a drummer consistently practice along to a metronome. If you don’t have one, again check out Zzounds so you can order a metronome from the comfort of your own couch.

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know that I absolutely drive this point into the ground, but I really feel it’s so true when it comes to improving as a drummer. It’s the trifecta of drumming practice…or is it a bifecta? Is that even a word?

Single and double strokes. Cymbal
This picture doesn’t pertain to this post in any real way, I just like drum cymbals a lot. In my opinion, cymbals are to drums what pizza is to food. Does that make any logical sense? I don’t know. But I’m not going to explain myself.

Below you can find many different practice ideas and patterns to get those singles and doubles up to snuff. Work your way through these exercises starting at a slow pace, maybe 60 beats per minute to begin with. Once you can comfortably play the pattern/patterns at that temp, crank the tempo up to say 90 and see how you do.

You’ll want to push yourself a bit as you continue to increase the tempo, just make sure you aren’t straining yourself. Above all, have fun and enjoy what you are doing. After all, that’s why we got into drumming in the first place right?

One last piece of advice. You should practice singles and doubles not only with your hands but with your feet as well, even if it’s just tapping them on the floor.

Think of your feet as another set of hands and make them do what you want. It might seem like getting your feet moving independently from your hands is as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree, but trust me, and I’m not trying to over-egg the pudding here, with consistent practice, you’ll amaze yourself with what you can do.

Single and double stroke practice patterns.


Single and double strokes. exercise 01.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 11.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 02.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 12.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 03.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 05.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 04.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 06.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 07.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 08.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 09.


Single and double strokes. Exercise 10.

What to do next?

If you are brand new to music, music production, or are interested in learning to play the drums, you can check out my article: What is a DAW? – What Does DAW stand for?

You might also want to check out this article: Acoustic Vs. Electronic Drums – Which One is Right for You?

If you are looking at buying your first drum set or any other musical instrument for that matter, take a look at Zzounds. They have a variety of acoustic drum sets and electronic drum sets for purchase.

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Andrew has been a life long lover of music. Although starting his musical journey on the guitar, (we won't talk about his skills on that particular instrument) he found his true passion was for drumming and making music to share with others. He also enjoys writing blog posts about off the wall subjects that are very much real—such as Bigfoot, UFOs, and what's up with European mayonnaise. Why is it sweet???
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