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Complete Music for the Fife and Drum - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com
Complete Music for the Fife and Drum By Walter D. Sweet. Published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc. (95483)
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Instructors will vary the order of which they teach the rudiments, this is my standard path with each separate list being a new lesson on a different day. Work on rudiments learned earlier in the process at the start of each subsequent lesson, always returning to the baseline long roll to warm up. Start each rudiment slowly, wide open, and speed up on repetition, being sure to note speed and quality improvements as the student progresses through the week.

Week 1
  • Stick Positions

    There are three basic positions, heights at which to hold the sticks. "UP" in our style of drumming is where the sticks are high, pointed at the sky. Right arm is bent at the elbow and rotated at the shoulder up and away from the drum. Left arm is rotated from the shoulder as far up as it will go. Your hands are basically at chin-level and the sticks are pointing up above your ears on either side. It's as far up as your sticks can go without reaching up. The 2nd position is mid way above the drum head, still pretty high over it, but a level used for actively playing accents and starting rolls. The 3rd position is closer to the head, within a few inches of it, used for actively playing at speed.

  • Holding your sticks

    We hold our sticks in the traditional way, non matched.
    Left hand the palm is roughly facing up, the stick pivots and trapped between the thumb and the base of the first finger. The stick then hangs out butt end to your left, head end to the right towards the drum and we usually leave about 1/4 of the stick to the left of the thumb, usually less. The first two fingers of the left hand are then placed along the length of the stick. Obviously, there are quite a few variations in this grip. I use the middle finger of the left hand to provide a back stop for the stick as it rebounds upward, and to apply pressure to drive the stick down. Some use the thumb exclusively, some the index finger plays a more prominent role. As playing, you are looking more at the thumb and palm of your left hand, as it's roughly facing up.
    The stick in the right hand is held pinched between the thumb and first bone of the index finger, the proximal phalanx. The stick will pivot there. The butt of the stick is held under the palm of the hand, sticking out an inch or two beyond the right side of the back of the hand. The fingers of the right hand are curled under the stick, pinky in (we're not drinking tea) and are used to backstop the stick as it rebounds and as you swing it.
    You swing the sticks energetically using your whole wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder like a wave motion. Shoulder opens, elbow comes up, wrist follows it, wrist bends back, shoulder starts to close, elbow starts to close, wrist starts to bend down where you strike the drum. From a distance, the elbows appear to move away-from and towards the body, and the wrists flex up and down.

  • Exercises

    Stick control and timing exercises are played to improve stick control and timing with other drummers, ideally, you play these with at least one other drummer, and attempt to play at the same tempo, volume and hands.

    Single taps. Played Right, Left, Right, Left repeatedly at the same tempo, don't increase or decrease and work on making both sides sound the same, and play from the low 3rd position sharply and without additional stick movement. Repeat for 30 seconds.

    R L R L R L R L 
    1 & 2 & 1 & 2 &
    

    Double taps. Played Right, Right, Left, Left repeatedly at the same tempo, don't increase or decrease and work on making both sides sound the same, and play from the low 3rd position sharply and without additional stick movement. Repeat for 30 seconds.

    R R L L R R L L
    1 & 2 & 1 & 2 &
    
  • The Long Roll

    Once you've learned how to grip the sticks, and are playing 1st, 2nd and 3rd position, and can do the above exercises, we move onto the long roll. Traditionally the first thing a drummer learned, and the drummer didn't move on to other rudiments until they could play a proper roll.

    Starting with the left, two strokes, then the right two strokes, beat equally in time. If you have to use a mnemonic we often use "mommydaddy" or "one and two and" spaced evenly like counting to four, one two three four, mom mee dad dee. Gradually increase the speed of the beating, repeating L L R R, like a train leaving the station, until such time as you reach your natural limitation and choke. Then stop, and start again. The faster you go, the less you're going to want to use a verbal or mental mnemonic and move onto muscle memory.

    Repeat this for a few iterations until you've bumped up against a wall, then give it a rest.

    Rolls can be "open" and "closed" the difference being the space between the strokes. We play relatively open rolls, and we rely on bounce off the drum head to provide the energy for the 2nd tap of each hand, some groups rely on their wrist and manually shove the stick back down, basically man handling each stroke of the roll. This method is certainly completely valid and traditional way to do things, but impossible to maintain at an extremely high rate of speed.

    Once you've reached a limit with individual strokes on the roll, we often switch to learning how to bounce, which involves shoving the stick into the head, and learning to control the rebound to drive the stick back down, resulting in two strikes of the drum per stroke of the hand. Literally, strike the drum and continue pressure through the stroke so that the stick immediately rebounds back into the drum head, mashing itself onto the head. Then progressivly lower the back pressure until the stick is bouncing multiple times, and fine tune the back pressure until you reliably hear two strikes per stroke.

Week 2
  • The Flam

    This rudiment is an accent note, played as a grace note followed by a proper stroke, alternates left to right. It's drawn as a small note that resembles an ant next to a normal sized note, and played with the grace note hand low, and the accent hand high, the arms/wrists/hands are brought down and both notes are played grace note followed immediately by the accent stroke. As with many rudiments, the flam sort of sounds like what it's played, with the "f" of "flam" being the grace note, and "LAM" being the accent stroke. fLAM. In text, this translates to a Right handed flam looking like this: lR and a left handed flam looking like this: rL with the grace note written as a lower case letter, and the accent stroke written as an upper.

    The flam is played lR then rL and repeated, you can count them, one two three four, flam flam flam flam.

  • The Flam Tap

    Described by it's name, the flam tap is played as a flam followed by a single stoke. Flam Tap. Timing is most often just as it sounds too, flam tap flam tap, as in one two three four.

    lR R rL L lR R rL L lR R
     f t  f t  f t  f t  f t
    

    Flam taps, like rolls, can be sped up into an open fast flam tap taking advantage of rebound to speed up what would otherwise be a boring rudiment into a very fast, roll-like version.

Week 3
  • The Flam Accent

    This rudiment combines a flam and two strokes, often played in 3/4 and 6/8 tunes, think "waltz". The flam accent is often refered to as flam accent number one. This rudiment alternates hands like flams do. For example, hear it in your head as: Flam two three Flam two three and see it played as:

    lR L R rL R L lR L R rL R L lR L R rL R L
     1 2 3  1 2 3  1 2 3  1 2 3  1 2 3  1 2 3
    

    We often only play TWO in a row, and often the first one starts with the last stroke of a roll, as in a 7 stroke roll into two flam accents:

    llrrllR L R rL R L
    1234567 2 3  f 2 3
    

    The flam accent number one is not to be confused with the flam accent number two, which is a flam tap, but the tap having 1/2 the value of the flam. Described as Flam tapflam tapflam with a gap between the flam and the next tap.

    lR   RrL   LlR   RrL   LlR   RrL
     1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6
    
  • The Paradiddle

    Sound it out. Par A Did Dle. The Paradiddle is an age old rudiment that can be played like most rudiments using alternate hands. It's simply, R L R R and the left handed version is L R L L, played as if counting to four, one two three four. Repeated paradiddles are played on alternate hands. Paradiddles, like the earlier flam accent, often start as the last stroke of a roll, as in 7 stroke roll into two paradiddles. Veriations on the paradiddle are very often used in place of a straight paradiddle.

    The Right and Left Paradiddles
    R L R R L R L L
    1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
    
    7 stroke rolling into right and left paraiddles.
    llrrllR L R R L R L L
    ------7 L R R L R L L
    

Exercise: Paradiddles. Play four paradiddles, alternating hands for each one, then 8 strokes with the right hand, 8 strokes with the left hand, no accents, no change in tempo, all from the same 3rd stick position. Repeat 30 seconds

R L R R L R L L R L R R L R L L R R R R R R R R L L L L L L L L
1 2 3 4 2 2 3 4 3 2 3 4 4 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 2 2 3 4 3 2 3 4 4 2 3 4
Week 4
  • No new rudiments, focus on improving rudiments learned in the prior three lessons. Work on exercises.
  • Combine flams and flam accents into and army 6/8 pattern of beats (without the rolls).
    lR rLlR lR rLlR lR L R rL R L lR rLlR
     F  F F  F  F F  F L R  F R L  F  F F
    
    If that makes any sense.
  • New drummers beat single taps (R L R L) or flams on the downbeat while playing with more experienced drummers on tunes with which they're not familiar.
Week 4
  • The Flamacue

    This rudiment is almost never played Left handed, almost always played Right handed. The Flamacue consists of a right handed flam followed L R L strokes ending on another right handed flam. Historically, the flamacue was played stright with accents on the flams, ONE two three four FIVE, but since at least Bruce & Emmet's Drummer's and Fifer's Guide, this rudiment has been written with an accent on the first left hand stroke. Presented both ways so as to be familiar.

    lR l r l lR
     f l r l  f
    
  • The Rough (Three Stroke Roll)

    Played like a flam, but the first grace note is doubled like a roll.

    	llR rrL llR rrL
              1   2   1   2
    
  • Five Stroke Roll

    Played as it sounds, a roll of only 5 beats. Three hang changes: L R L or R L R thus: LL RR L and RR LL R.

  • New drummers beat single flams on the downbeat while playing with more experienced drummers.
Week 5
  • Flam Paradiddle

    A paradiddle, with the first stroke played as a flam.

    lR L R R rL R L L
     1 & 2 &  1 & 2 &
    
  • Lesson 25

    A Rough tap tap. Played , literally, right handed rough then left right single strokes.

    llR L R
      1 2 3
    
  • Seven Stroke Roll

    The Seven Stroke Roll is almost always played Left to Right L L R R L L R. It consists of 4 hand changes, L R L R.

    Exercise, 7 stroke roll breakdown. First iteration, play the Right on the One count, and then L R L R starting on the Two & ending on the Four count. Second time through play the same Right on the One count, and then a 7 stroke roll starting on Two & ending on 4.
    R  LRLR R  LRLR
    1&2&3&4&1&2&3&4&
    The hands will, from a distance, make the same motion for both 1/2s of the exercise, when playing individual strokes, or the roll, it's the same number of hand changes at the same tempo and count.
    
  • Combine Flam, Flam accent and 7 stroke roll into Amry 6/8.
Week 6
  • No new rudiments, focus on improving rudiments learned in the prior lessons.
  • Learn to play a roll into another rudiment, like 7 into flam accent and 7 into paradiddle.
  • Combine 7 stroke roll, flam and flam accent to play first 1/2 of Army 6/8.
Week 7
  • The Single Drag
  • Lesson 25
  • Fast Flam Taps
  • 9, 10, 11, 13, 15 Stroke Rolls
  • Combine 7 stroke rolls and flams to play the first 1/2 of a basic tune like 1812.
Week 8, The week of the paradiddle
  • Drag Paradiddle
  • Single, Double and Tripple Paradiddle
  • Paradiddlediddle
  • Combine 7 stroke roll, flam, lesson 25 and paradiddle to play Connecticut 1/2 Time.
Week 9
  • Double Drag
  • Variations: Reverse Paradiddle.
  • Variations: Paradiddles with the accent on the second stroke.


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