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Single Stroke Four

How To Play A Single Stroke Four

The single stroke four is a common drum rudiment that you can find in many drum fills, drum solos, and snare pieces.

single stroke four drum rudiment
The single stroke four

What is a single stroke four?

Like a single stroke roll broken into pieces, the single stroke four consists of four-note groupings and makes for a nice flourish in drum rolls and fills.

It’s made up of three sixteenth notes and one eighth note, so it has the illusion of a brief pause between each grouping.

Here’s what the single stroke four sounds like:

You can use this tool to practice along at the tempo that’s best for you (it’s the one Drumeo members use when practicing with the 3000+ play-along tracks inside our members area).

Click here if you want to learn how to read drum music

Tips for playing single stroke fours

While you might feel confident playing single stroke rolls, it might take some time to get used to the start/stop motion of the single stroke four. Each grouping should feel and sound smooth and consistent. 

Here are some tips to help you master this rudiment.

Practice with a metronome

When you’re first learning how to play something, it’s fine to test it out without a metronome as you get used to the pattern. But you shouldn’t go click-free for long. The metronome will help you develop a better internal clock and show you exactly where the timing of your strokes is inconsistent (or where it’s right on the grid).

You can buy a physical metronome at a music store or download a metronome app online.

Start slow

While it might be tempting to get up to speed as quickly as possible – especially if you’re feeling confident – make sure you’re really playing the single stroke four well before you increase the tempo.

Be honest with yourself and don’t move on until you’ve really got it down. Don’t just say “it’s good enough”. Develop control first, and speed will come later. 

Try starting with your metronome set to 60 BPM and then slowly work your way up 5 BPM at a time.

Alternate your lead hand

If you’re a right-handed drummer, you probably default to starting everything with your right hand. Try starting this rudiment with your left hand, too. This will help you get a more consistent sound out of both sticks and give you more confidence and control.

Practice in front of a mirror

It’s easiest to correct your posture or grip immediately if you’re watching yourself in a mirror. Try to set up a practice pad and a snare stand in front of a full length mirror if you can.

You’ll be able to notice if you’re gripping your sticks too hard, or if your stick height doesn’t look right. Use your reflection as a window into how you’re doing. It’s like becoming your own drum teacher!

Film yourself practicing

While playing in front of a mirror will help you fix issues on the fly, you might not realize when something is wrong during your practice session. Sometimes we don’t notice issues while we’re in the middle of playing – especially if we’re concentrating hard.

Whether you’re propping your phone on your dresser or capturing it all with a camera and tripod, it’s helpful to watch your practice sessions and critique yourself from a ‘third party’ perspective.

How to play a single stroke four on the drums

Once you’ve practiced it on a pad and it’s feeling good, it’s time to move the single stroke four over to the drum set. Here are some exercises to get you started.

#1:
#2:
#3:
#4:
#5:

Once you’ve worked through these exercises, come up with your own ideas. Move the rudiment around the kit and try changing surfaces to get different sounds. This one sounds great on a tom or a cymbal!

Songs that use the single stroke four

Learn these tunes to get comfortable with this rudiment in practice:

“Adam’s Song” – Blink-182

adams song blink 182 drum notation
“Adam’s Song” by Blink-182

The single stroke four crosses over between two bars, with the first three strokes at the end of the first bar and the last stroke at the beginning of the second bar.

“The Dance Of Eternity” – Dream Theater

dance of eternity dream theater drum notation
“The Dance Of Eternity” by Dream Theater

You’ll hear single stroke fours throughout this track. Learn the song to put this rudiment into practice!

“Come Together” – The Beatles

come together the beatles drum notation
“Come Together” by The Beatles

You’ll play the single stroke four on the cymbal here.

What’s next?

With enough solid practice, you should start feeling more confident in your playing. From drum beats, rolls and fills to solos, nailing the single stroke four will give you one more tool in your toolbelt and get you one step closer to playing anything you want on the drums.

If you’ve enjoyed this rudiment, you’ll probably also like the single stroke seven, which is – you guessed it – a roll consisting of groups of seven strokes.

Download a free rudiments poster PDF here


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