No rudiments taught in marching band?


Jazz Man

When I was in High School, I joined:

Marching Band (snare)
Stage Band (drum set)
Concert Band (timpani)

Not only were we not taught ANY rudiments, but their existence was never mentioned.
I missed out BIG time!
If I would've learned them WAAAAY back in High School, life would be a bit easier now.

Were ANY rudiments taught to any of you in High School (assuming you were involved in any of the band classes of course!)?


Platinum Member
If you learned to roll ,you were taught rudiments.
If you played any John Phillipp Sousa ,you played flams and ruffs which are also rudiments.


Senior Member
Rudiments were a big part of my band experience. In high school, even our grades were impacted by how well we could play them.

No Way Jose

Silver Member
When I was in school they had us reading drum scores. I don't remember studying rudiments, but I did practice drum rolls at home. And of course the kids at school would play drum rolls for each other before music class.


that seems very odd to me

you couldn't get into my high school drum line if you didn't pass a rudiment exam in front of a jury


Platinum Member
I don't think I was taught anything drum-specific at all in my entire time in school-- junior high through high school-- maybe a little bit on the technique for playing misc percussion in band, and a couple of comments in jazz band-- other than that, it was all music focused. I don't recall any playing tests, and I barely remember auditioning for anything. The HS and JH had good music programs, too, except for the marching band, which was an afterthought. But I did all my drum learning in lessons, in drum corps, and on my own.

Jazz Man

Who Is Tony,

I WISH I went to YOUR High School.
They literally didn't show us anything.


If we were doing rolls, etc. it was just learned by ear on our own time.


Gold Member
There was not continuous and thorough focus on rudiments in my opinion because the teacher had to focus on the whole unit, band, orchestra, combo. In orchestra there were challenges to slot us in chair hierarchy. In drum and bugle corps our drum instructor focused heavily on rudiments and explained them with each piece we did. I think you get the best and most thorough exposure to rudiments in private lessons and that was expected within every school unit or D&BC I participated.


Platinum Member
We had to be able to play the 26 Rudiments in junior high school, if you wanted a passing grade in band.

It's hard to believe they didn't teach them at your school.


Gold Member
This varies from program to program to program, state to state etc. We're all generally told that we should know all of the rudiments, but how many really do?

There are way faster & more effective ways to getting great ever-capable hands than by studying rudiments, it's all about the hand motions. This is certainly the focus of every high level group I've come across (high school, drumcorps & independent lines). I'd venture to say that 95% of the world's best rudimental drummers today don't know the PAS 40 rudiments.

The 12 gateway rudiments in my Stick Technique book and on feature these. If you can play them well at all tempos then you're hands have covered every motion necessary to play everything else under the sun.

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Yes, it would be great to teach rudiments in high school. And I don't know the particular situation at this school.

My son and daughter were in the drum line at high school. The marching band teacher had 50 kids in the band and had to teach them how to march, and teach them 3 songs, and teach them a half time routine for the football game. All in 4 weeks.

The drum line went something like this.

Imagine this; You are the drum line coach for marching band. You have 4 weeks to create a drum line using the six kids that showed up for the drum line.
You need to create and teach them two drum line marching routines. (To be played while the band moves around the football field and a different routine while the band marches)
Your first performance is in 4 weeks and you have one hour to practice three days per week.

What are you going to spend your rehearsal time on? (By the way, 3 of the new kids are not sure which foot is their right foot)

I guess at some point in the semester you could introduce rudiments but if you want a great looking and sounding drum line you would probably only work on the sound and visual routines of your drum line.



Platinum Member
I went to a school district that at one point had the number one marching band in the US.

It was a well oiled machine from band director ,band boosters to section leaders.

Section leaders were responsible for teaching the lower classman their parts and instruction.

The band director got the music together and dumbed down parts as needed.

We had a separate drill instructor for field and parade formation who worked for money that the boosters would raise.

The music ed started in grade school and worked it's way through to high school.
That was when money was plentiful and so were kids.

What used to be a 125 piece marching band is now at about 35.
My school district in grades 10 through 12 had about a 1000 kids.
Now it's about 400 in grades 9 through 12.

By the way we produced world class musicians that played with Sting ,Maynard Ferguson ,Commodores and the Lettermen.
I had many friends attend Berklee school of music.

Globalization has managed to destroy a lot of what used to be the good old days.

Sounds like your district was lacking in funds and community support.
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Jazz Man

Unfortunately the school I went to was pretty small on budgets.

It's great to hear all the various stories and input from you guys.

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
I have to say, I wish I had been around this as a kid.

Frankly, as a young metal-head, I doubt if I ever viewed the marching bands as anything but the ultimate in cheesy dorkness. It had to have been the clothes.

"Yeah, I got a gig Friday night, Wanna come?"

"Oh really, what's the name of your band?"



(courtesy of Bill Bachman)


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I started in Middle school with lessons for almost the entire year and we did nothing but rudiments forever. Then playing and understanding time, eighth, quarter, half, whole notes and rests. The first song we drummed to was the theme to Bridge Over the River Kwai, still using wooden shelves as pads. We had so much we had to learn in order to get into concert band or orchestra. Three of us lasted out of fourteen that started.