Control/Speed in Left Hand in Traditional Grip with Single Stroke Rolls



I have some questions for those of you who play traditional grip and have developed your hands to the point that you can play say, at least 900 single strokes in a minute without feeling fatigued afterward.

Before I continue, I'd like to make it clear that I know the best way to develop speed is to work on your control, accuracy and endurance, and that speed comes later. My problem is that I have spent many months on my hands practicing, and playing at those speeds with my left hand for longer than, say, 8 or 10 seconds, is nearly impossible for me. To this day I do not know how the greats do it. I have seen a great video of Dick Cully playing Buddy Rich's famous quiet/slow to loud and blisteringly fast single stroke rolls, and there was a good view of his left hand. He said himself that a great majority of the speed comes from the thumb, and it looked like he used his fingers more to delicately control the stick at extremely fast tempos.

This is the video I am referring to:

Another question I have, is whether or not when I am playing single stroke rolls in traditional grip, I should feel tension in my forearm. I've always thought if you feel that tension you are playing incorrectly, but I do not know for sure, and would like to hear from more experienced players as to what they do here.

So, to summarize, those of you who play traditional grip, how do you play single stroke rolls at very high tempos, say, 32nd notes at between 100-120bpm for more than 10 seconds, without feeling tension in your forearm?
Come on, guys. I know there are several of you who teach drums for a living, and at a very high level. I want to hear what you have to say, and I'm sure many other forum members do, too!
Hey mate,

I know this is what most people will say and you probably will swear and curse me when I say it, but it is the only way. The method of practice is not as important as focused, consistent practice. You obviously have to have the correct technique and unless there is a major flaw in how you are doing, which would be hard to correct without you being here with me, you will get it with practice.

I had the same problem as you too. I used to think "I'm just not cut out for playing fast. I must have some natural predilection for slowness" as I couldn't get past the 200bpm barrier with clean singles, doubles, diddles etc for any length of time or with any clarity. I used to look at other guys and think "Man, they are the hare and I'm the tortoise" but just like that character, with a solid routine, correct technique (and it does not have to be some special moeller, gladstone, freestroke, finger sliding double toe, heel, pinky thing) and most importantly, a long term every day practice goal it is easily reachable.

I'll give you what I did for a long time and still do. Before that though. I have to say something. If you are going to do this for one month and you don't see results and then you give up and say to yourself "Ahh, it's not working, I need to try something different. Something better" don't even bother starting it. Seriously. You can practice a million different things and whatever you're doing now will also get you there, unless it's really wacky. The only important, definite part of your routine, that must not change is that you do it every single day for at least three months without changing it at all. I'd stick on the same thing for six months minimum.

Anyway, on to the routine, you know the Stone Killer? Cool. Just in case:

You've probably done it. It's a slight variation of that that I teach to all my students and each and every one has great results.

It is based on a 16th note subdivision with 32nd note fill ins. The basis is: both hands together (fill in with whatever roll you are doing), single hand (the exercise as written above ie. Stone Killer), repeat. You go through singles, doubles, diddles, press (buzz/whatever) roll, triple stroke. You can do something different if you want. All you do is double the above exercise with a fill in roll first, if that makes sense. So, for the single stroke it would look like this:

RlRlRlRlRRRR LrLrLrLrLLLL First half with the fill in makes it a 32nd subdivision into 16th note subdivision with the single hand second half.
....on to the last one which is too long to fit one a single line here and so on and so on. Does this make sense so far?
You do each line for one minute. No less. More if you want, but no less. So the whole first part with singles takes four minutes. Not long eh?

Then you move onto doubles. The only part that changes here is the fill in section. The Stone Killer single hand stroke stays the same throughout each and every part:
rrllrrllRRRR llrrllrrLLLL
rrllrrllrrllrrllRRRRRRRR llrrllrrllrrllrrLLLLLLLL
...and so on up to four.

Then onto paradiddles:

rlrrlrllRRRR lrllrlrrLLLL
rlrrlrllrlrrlrllRRRRRRRR lrllrlrrlrllrlrrLLLLLLLL
rlrrlrllrlrrlrllrlrrlrllRRRRRRRRRRRR lrllrlrrlrllrlrrlrllrlrrLLLLLLLLLLLL
...and the fourth one to finish.

Then, here you move to press roll which you will play in 16ths, not 32nds, so:

r l r l RRRR l r l r LLLL
...and same as all other go through 2, 3, and 4 then, as with all, move straight into thr next section without stopping which is triple stroke, so again, not 32nd fill ins anymore 16th note triplets.
rrrlllRRRR lllrrrLLLL
rrrlllrrrlllRRRRRRRR lllrrrlllrrrLLLLLLLL
....up to four again. Now, near the end but definitely not finished.

Straight from that last section, you move into a plain 32nd note single stroke roll for one full minute without stopping. Then straight into double stroke for one minute, back to single stroke: one minute, then paradiddle for one minute, single: one minute, press roll, singles, triple stroke and then to finish the whole thing: one last single stroke roll for one minute. All up it only takes about 29 minutes. Start at a comfortable speed in which you can play the single stroke, doubles and diddles for one minute easily. That might be around 80bpm...whatever, it doesn't matter. It might be 60 or it could be 90. Just don't fool yourself into doing it faster than you can comfortably go for one full minute with ease. So, the whole thing should be done at once without any pauses in between. Build up to it if you have to or start out with just the single, double and diddle sections with those same rudiments for one minute. Then later add the press roll, then again the triple stroke afterward. Just think one minute for everything. By the end of six months, moving it up just one single click at a time maybe every week or so. Even two weeks would be better. If one speed becomes too hard and you struggle, stay back down for another two weeks.

Whatever speed you start at, say 80, just think if I move up one click every two weeks, how long will it be before I reach that 200, 210, 220 whatever mark you are looking for
....It really isn't very long out of your playing career and life. Even if you spend a year on this, it's not long. Just do it.
..jazzin' pretty much hit the nail on the head