A drum roll is a stream of fast notes. Unlike vocalists or other musicians, a drum roll can sustain a pitch and can come, of course, in some variations. Some of these variations include an open roll, a closed roll and the double roll. The double roll is one of the most popular options and it implies playing two notes with each hand.
The double stroke roll
This is one of the easiest and most versatile types of drum rolls. To perform this you will have to master the proper technique with the drum sticks. This means you`ll have to grip the drumsticks with the right force.
If you want to make sure you are doing this in a correct form, you should start by allowing the drumsticks to bounce back from the drum`s head with each stroke. This means the movement should be light enough to allow the bounce but firm enough to avoid wobble.
A good way of practicing and mastering this technique is by using a ping pong ball. The bounce of the ball from a hard surface such as a table is what you will have to mimic. As the height of the bounce decreases the rhythm and sound get faster and faster. This is the technique you will try to mimic with the double stroke roll.
Single stroke roll
The single stroke roll is one of the easiest techniques to master. The simplistic technique will just use a combination of individual hand strokes.
You would play a pattern of right-left with increasing speed until you reach a point similar to a drum roll. This is also a good technique of transitioning into the double strike roll which will find you in the position where you need to allow for one bounce and you will control the drumsticks from your wrists.
The crush role comes with an increased bounce tempo and can sometimes be confused with the double roll or other types of rolls. This doesn`t mean you have to confuse it also.
You will need to master it using a different technique, however. The technique only needs your index ginger and your thumb. You will hold the drumsticks only using these fingers and you will begin the light bounce method which will allow you to create a roll.
The ping pong method
The ping pong method is one of the best ways to learn or even teach drum roll. It can teach you the rhythm and can even show you a how the drumsticks will bounce.
The simple bounce test involves dropping a ping pong ball on the floor and observing the ball bouncing. Another alternative is to use a paddle and hold it above the ball after you drop it. This will increase the tempo and will create another bouncing effect which is similar to the stroke patterns above.
The same can be performed with the drumstick on the drum. When you squeeze the stick you need to make sure you don`t apply any downward pressure. The more you squeeze the stick the more resistance you will create. You can now create an effect similar to the one with the ping pong ball on the floor with the paddle held above it.
For more advanced practice you can switch from one-handed performance to a two-handed performance. You can try doing this at the same time with both hands or alternatively.
So how do you perform a complete drum roll? At this stage, you can use both hands and squeeze the sticks to create a higher tempo bounce. The key here is to minimize the time needed to switch the roll on each hand.
How to exercise for the perfect drum roll
Now that you learned all these techniques you can start practicing and performing better and better. This is not going to be achieved over night as many new drummers believe that a roll is the most complicated playing style to learn. But once you take it step by step, this improves your skills every day.
You can start by practicing with the ping pong and the paddle. You may do this for a few days and you will understand how the drumsticks react similarly. After this stage, you can start practicing the different rolls with one hand.
Then you would practice it with the other hand to finally get to a stage where you are comfortable practicing it with both hands. Although this is quick to achieve, actually maintaining a good tempo might need some practice.
This is why you will need to practice changing the roll from one hand to the other for 6-8 times before truly mastering the switch. You will notice that the more you squeeze the drumsticks the quicker the bounce will be.
At the same time, this is the most difficult part of the roll to master. The good news is that once you are comfortable with the hand switches you will be able to use the technique while playing a repertoire.
Learning to drum roll can be one of the longest and most pleasant experiences for a drummer. Although you might feel this is not easy to achieve, with daily practice you can get to a proficient level and can even use it seamlessly while playing. With so much advice and techniques to learn from, it can be complicated to find a good starting point.
This drummer may be hilarious to watch, but he has done his homework!
This is why you will need to start with the ping pong technique and progress through the single stroke, the double stroke and the crush roll. These techniques are essential if you want to maintain a high pitch or make the transition towards a new song.
Since drummers have limited instruments to perform this, the roll can be one of the few feasible options. Another good tip is to slowly progress through the different rolls. It is best to first master the single roll before moving on to the other rolls, this will give the opportunity to build on the newly acquired skills.