Single Stroke Roll Practice – Accents

Single stroke roll practice - accents.

Today, I’d like to talk about single stroke roll practice. Even though the single stroke roll is the first rudiment every new drummer learns, it’s one of the most important rudiments we have as drummers. This means it’s important for us to practice it regularly.

So with that being said, today’s exercise is simple but effective. However, you might find your hands fumbling around in the beginning until you’ve played through it several times.

It’s a simple exercise played as sixteenth notes. For all of you who may not know how to count sixteenth notes, it’s counted like this in 4/4 time: 1-e-and-a, 2-e-and-a, 3-e-and-a, 4-e-and-a, 1-e-and-a, 2-e-and-a, 3-e-and-a, 4-e-and-a, etc.

That means there are four strokes per quarter note, or sixteen sixteenth notes for every four quarter notes. Don’t worry if that sounds confusing. As long as you understand the exercise, that’s all that matters.

This exercise revolves around accenting various notes throughout its entirety. It’s designed to help you get used to the idea of accenting different notes, as opposed to only accenting the first note of a measure.

Every sixteen notes the accented note will change. Now the way I have this set up is quite straightforward and you’ll easily be able to pick up the pattern.

I should also say, that you can find many books out there with countless sticking patterns and troves of note-accenting exercises, but I’ve found that this is a good place to start if you aren’t familiar with the concept of accented notes.

And speaking of, if you aren’t familiar with what an accented note means, it just means you are going to strike that particular note louder.

You’ll likely see two different symbols on drum sheet music to indicate an accent.

The one that looks like a greater than sign (>) means to accent that note (play it louder), and the other one that looks like this, (^) is the marcato drum technique.

I’m going to link to Wikipedia so you can check out what marcato means. It can be a little confusing, so don’t worry if it’s not clicking. Marcato

So, instead of making you read a thousand extra words, I’m going to simply add the drum notation below, and you’ll see how this exercise works.

Single stroke roll practice - accents.

The key to this exercise is slowing the tempo down enough that it’s comfortable to play consistently.

Remember, we’re playing the single stroke roll as sixteenth notes and that means alternating hands for every note. It doesn’t matter what hand you start this exercise with, make sure you practice leading with both hands.

Breaking it down, we start by accenting the first note of the sixteenth note group. This will be the ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’, and ‘4’ count of each group.

When counted out, it sounds like this: 1-e-and-a, 2-e-and-a, 3-e-and-a, 4-e-and-a, etc.

The bold number above gets the accent.

Then, as we move into the second bar of notes, we’ll be accenting the ‘e’ count of each group of sixteenth notes.

Note, that for the entirety of each bar, you’ll be using the same hand to accent the notes, but as you change bars, your hand will alternate as well.

When counted out, it sounds like this: 1-e-and-a, 2-e-and-a, 3-e-and-a, 4-e-and-a, etc.

Next, going into the third bar, we will accent the ‘and’ count of each group.

When counted out, it sounds like this: 1-e-and-a, 2-e-and-a, 3-e-and-a, 4-e-and-a, etc.

And finally, as we move into the final bar, we’ll be accenting the last note, the ‘a’ count of each group.

When counted out, it sounds like this: 1-e-and-a, 2-e-and-a, 3-e-and-a, 4-e-and-a, etc.

Single stroke roll practice - accents. Big black steel snare drum.

As you can see, it’s a very straightforward exercise, but one that will get you started toward becoming more comfortable accenting different notes during your playing. It’s designed to help you add additional dynamics to what you are playing on the drums.

In closing, I urge you to take the exercise I showed you above and make it your own. Don’t just go through it once and call it good. Toy around with it or even reverse it. Do whatever you can to make it more challenging.

There are so many things you can do with this one little exercise. And as you get more comfortable adding accents, don’t forget to speed up the tempo. Always keep it a little challenging.

Also, don’t forget to practice this routine leading with alternating hands. Don’t fall into the pattern of always leading with the same hand. Remember, as drummers we want four-way limb independence.

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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