Right Left Right Right / Left Right Left Left
A paradiddle is a group of eight beats on a drum that use the hand pattern:
R L R R L R L L
All notes are of equal length and the pattern loops.
Where do they come from?
Funny name, paradiddle, but it likely comes from the sound made on the drum by playing them.
Paradiddles originated in the drum corp (military drumming), and if you’ve seen military drummers, you’ll know they’re pretty tight.
The idea is an advancement of the technique of the roll or rumble.
What’s the big deal?
Speed, dexterity, flexibility, strength, lightness, endurance and precision.
They are one of the best techniques to firm up your drumming chops in a hurry. They also improve co-ordination and strengthen the weaker hand.
Any drummer worth their salt will tell you they work a charm.
The other great thing about them is that the concept applies to all drums. These exercises will work for any drummer and any drum. In fact, you don’t even need a drum. Just using your hands or fingers will work.
If you play them often, the benefits will be felt in your songs and performances. The other rhythms you play should feel tighter, easier, slicker. You often get a ‘wow’ moment when playing, when you can actually hear your improvement. It’s a great feeling.
How to play a paradiddle
It is done by playing a simple roll, on any note on the drum.
The first two notes are with alternate hands (the ‘PA-RA’). The next two notes are played with the same hand (the ‘DID-DLE).
Look at this chart:
Notice how actually, the first 3 notes are played with alternating hands, and the third beat simply repeats.
The second bar is the same, but with opposite hands.
When you do the exercise, start very slowly. Make sure the notes are of equal length. Don’t pause when you complete the loop and go back to the beginning – keep it nice and smooth, even and continuous.
Once you’ve got the basic paradiddle down and played around with it for a bit, let’s take it up a notch.
The double paradiddle plays four alternating notes before the diddle, as shown below.
The triple paradiddle plays six alternating notes before the diddle. The exercise has been broken up into two charts, but should flow seamlessly from one chart to the next.
Triple Paradiddle Switch
What are you doing all the way down here? You’re a masochist.
For a challenge, try getting this up to speed.
How often should you play them?
How long have you got? Seriously, they’ll give you as much as you can put in. They’re a great exercise for doing when you’ve got a minute or two, on the bus or wherever you might be. You can do them discreetly or you can tap on your desk, tap on the kitchen utensils, tap on friends.
- 5-10 minutes a day, when not performing.
- 30 minutes a day if you need some fast improvement or you’ve got a big show coming up
That said, anything you can do is a win.
How to mix it up
It’s easy to get disctracted when you’re doing paradiddles, so do your best to stay focused when you’re playing.
To keep things interesting, try the following:
- * Try to see them as a song, as rhythms, rather than exercises. Experiment with the rhythms.
- * Set yourself a countdown timer on your phone. Five minutes, ten minutes, whatever. It’s a great way to go that extra mile in your practicing.
- * Get a metronome app for your phone. Start at a slow pace for one minute, then speed it up. Repeat.
- * Play them anywhere and everywhere. Experiment with different sounds. The world is your drum.
Get the book
For the best book on drum rudiments, including paradiddles, don’t waste your time, just get Stick Control by George Stone
When it comes to drum rudiments, there’s no point reinventing the wheel. Stick Control is a classic, and has been given various awards over the years.
It applies to any kind of drum, not just snare drums. You don’t even need a drum at all.
Stick Control is a complete reference of rhythms and rudiments to improve your rhythm. Simple, and worth every penny. Click the link below to get it on Amazon.com.
I hope that helps. I think the biggest take away from this article is that paradiddles are a powerhouse and the more you put in, the more you get out.
I’m going to paradiddle off now and make some tea. Cheersies.
For the next cool technique, see Lesson 10 – Muted Notes