You have to do some basic things to create a strong foundation in your playing. If you have had any formal training, you probably studied the 40 International Rudiments. I do recommend downloading the free PDF file from the Percussion Arts Society website.
You should work on these to develop the drumming vocabulary you need to play almost any combination of ideas.
If you are just getting started with rudiments, or if you just want the “basics” of the basics, I recommend working on a simple combination of patterns that will create a strong foundation for the others. Because almost all music can be broken down into “duple” time, which is subdividing or feeling everything in “2”… or in “triple” time which is felt in “3”, you should practice these basic sticking patterns counting with different subdivisions in mind. For instance, the “duple” time list should be counted like this:
1 e & ah 2 e & ah 3 e & ah 4 e & ah
Play the following patterns, repeating as many times as you like… I’d say for 3 to 5 minutes on each…. or until you feel you have it under control.
Yes, use a metronome. Start slow at first, and then everyday pick different tempo markings and learn to control the patterns at whatever speed you choose. You may play these on a practice pad if you like, but also be sure to have time playing the patterns around the drum set too.
1. Single Stroke Roll
R L R L R L R L R L R L R L R L
2. Double Stroke Roll
R R L L R R L L repeat…
R L R R L R L L repeat…
R R L R L L R L… R L L L R L L L….
R R R L R R R L… L R R R L R R R …
L L L R L L L R… R R R R L L L L
For the triplet feel you can count
1 la lee 2 la lee 3 la lee 4 la lee, etc.
or 1 trip let 2 trip let, or tri-pa-let tri-pa-let and so on. Whatever counting method helps you focus on a triplet feel is fine.
Now play these patterns:
1. Single Stroke Roll
R L R L R L R L R L R L repeat….
2. Triple Stroke Roll
R R R L L L R R R L L L repeat….
3. Double Paradiddle
R L R L R R L R L R L L ….
R L R R L L R L R R L L ….
or start it left handed
L R L L R R L R L L R R….
R L L R L L… R R L R R L…
L R R L R R … L L R L L R ….
R R R L L L …
Also work on playing doubles in a triplet count. R R L L R R L L R R L L – You can count this as 1 & 2 & 3 & // or tri-pa-let tri-pa-let… etc.
One more basic exercise.
Have the feet play a constant groove as you play the hand patterns. Simply walking on the main counts: kick on 1, hat on 2, kick on 3, hat on 4. Or Kick drum on all 4 pulses (1/4 notes); hi-hat on 2 & 4. These are very common. Try any foot pattern you like, but start with these simple ones first.
Also try playing the sticking patterns with the kick drum as part of the pattern… Such as the “R’s” being your hands & the “L’s” being the kick. This is a great foot coordination exercise. Yes, you could use the hi-hat foot as part of the pattern, but let’s start with the kick for now. As a hi-hat primer you could play constant 1/4 notes or 1/8 notes with your hi-hat foot as you play these hand and kick combinations. But only do that after you’ve got the other parts working smoothly.
Building on this solid rhythmic foundation will strengthen everything else you do as a drummer. With all the variety of drumming concepts there are. to learn the basics is