Single Stroke Roll – Lessons From Rudiment Rock-It

July 30th, 2014

The Single Stroke Roll is deceptive because it’s very easy to learn but takes years to master. Everyone has done it before at some point. A drum roll to prepare for an announcement. Tapping along to a sweet song. Nervously waiting for something. It’s just tapping back and forth. Easy. Until you’re forced to do it evenly and quickly. Us right handers hastily realize how stupid our left hands are, and left handers gloat over their obvious (but not complete) dominance o’re our lesser evolved species.

Evelyn Glennie knows how it’s done! Skip to 4:00 in the video.

A problem I’ve encountered as a teacher is that students genuinely perceive that they are even and steady. Even with a metronome! And yet the student is obviously executing a perfectly swung 32nd note and just doesn’t know the difference. Rudiment Rock-it will quickly drive this from a student of percussion (or music in general). Any unevenness in tapping each side of the mobile device will be met with losing the game very quickly.

Single Stroke Roll – Slowly and Correctly


The object of the game is to get the rocket to the top of the screen without allowing it to touch the sides of the screen. The game keeps track of the time between the right and left taps. If the time is unequal, the player is penalized by going off course. If the player notices that they are off course, they have the opportunity to slow down and regain control before going off of the screen. They can then make another attempt at playing the single stroke roll quickly and evenly enough to win at the selected difficulty (levels 1-99).

Initially, only the first 20 difficulty levels are available. If the player wins, higher difficulties and new patterns are unlocked. This gives the game a challenge that encourages the player to continue becoming proficient at the selected pattern. There has never been a better way to get a student to practice the single stroke roll!

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