Realizing The Power Of The Five-Stroke Roll

The Five-Stroke Roll is probably one of the first rudiments you learned. When you're just starting out you may not understand what is so important about the five-stroke roll. You don’t really understand its power. Many years later you realize what an important part of your drumming vocabulary it actually is. I’d like to shorten that realization process part for you a bit.

Get Comfortable

First of all we need to get comfortable with the five-stroke roll rudiment in its traditional form. People usually don’t spend enough time on learn it so they never end up using it.

It is important to start very slow and focus on all of your motions and the sound quality of the roll (Ex. 1).

Libor's Five-Stroke Roll

Ex. 1.

Practice it at various tempos. Start slow and stay relaxed at all times.

Most of my students quickly get bored with this traditional approach and then never spend enough time on it. So I have come up with a few variations to keep it interesting and challenging as they work on it.

The Modified 5-Stroke

In this example note that I shortened the accented note at the end of the roll. (Because who wants to wait, right?) I also doubled the speed halfway through exercise. Written this way the exercise ends up being in 6/8. Make sure you practice it leading with both the strong and the weak hand. Once you are comfortable at different tempos try to play the exercise while, (a) counting out loud all six eight notes; and, (b) counting out loud three quarter notes per measure.

Libor's Five-Stroke Roll

Ex. 2.

I also wanted to create a five-stroke-roll exercise that would enable you to naturally switch leading hands so students don’t have to practice both. Unfortunately, many students never make it to the wek hand. To do this cut the first measure in half, which creates an exercise in 9/8.

Libor's Five-Stroke Roll

Ex. 3.

Keep practicing and you’ll come to see the five-stroke-roll is really cool and useful. The more time you spend on it the more comfortable you will become using it. In fact, there is a lot more magic inside the five-stroke-roll. But we'll discover that next time.

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