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The Perfectionists

A History of

Competitive Rudimental Snare Drumming

(Many excerpts on these webpages are from the book)

“Words to the English language are as rudiments to the musical language. Rudiments are ornaments; like bending pitch or grace notes – an embellishment.”


                                                   Ken Norman

“There are 26 letters in the alphabet and 26 rudiments. You’ve got to know the alphabet before you make words.”  

                                                   Joe Fontana

These rudiments are to drumming what scales and exercises are to the players of other instruments.  They are the foundation and science of all drumming.  Their correct use is indispensable; without them there can be no proper nor even acceptable drumming.”

George Lawrence Stone   Military Drum Beats  (1931)

"A rudiment, as defined by Webster is "a first principle of any art or science."  That is where we want to start, "the first principle of the art," or in other words, the very foundation of drumming, "the drum rudiments."  There are 26 of them  and, like the scales of other instruments, you start learning them early, one at a time."                                                                                                                              William F. Ludwig

The Perfectionists - The History of Rudimental Drumming From Military Code To Field Competition

Percussive Notes Magazine - April 2005

Click to read original 14 page article

The Technique & Mechanics of Competitive Rudimental Snare Drumming  ©  All Rights Reserved     $65  (plus shipping)  335 Pages

This book was written for those competing in state, regional, national or world class snare drum competitions. It is to maximize the performance by training the muscle, coordination and concentration systems and a technical addition to the physics style template of Earl Sturtze (St. Francis Parochial, New Haven Connecticut) and the Sons of Liberty (Brooklyn New York).


Exercises build around different coordination and textures: Alternate Sticking, Diddle Accent Variations, Rolls & Singles, Alternate Flams, Flams with Diddles, Swiss Variations, Ruff-Rat-Drag-25 Combinations, 24th 32nd40th & 48th base rolls, Flammed, Swiss & Backward Rolls, One Handed Multiple Bounce, Lead Hand Switch Complexity, Flammed Multiple Bounce Variations, Flammed Lead Hand Switches 


Another section is devoted to buzz textures and stickings: Buzzed Interior Grace Notes, Buzzed Accents with Open Grace Notes, Buzzed Drags & Rolls, Buzz Rudiment Flam Complexity.


There is a Visual/Sticktrick section having Missed Beats, Backsticking of Rolls, Rat-Flam-Drag-25, Singles, Flams and Back Sti-clicks (backsticking on the opposite stick)


Solo Composition and Concentration are addressed with respect to tactics and strategy. Acoustics are covered with respect to drum tuning and the difference in what the hears to what you hear. Attention given the rudiment breakdown procedure.


There is a long section on physiology of training with backup from Olympic coaches training manuals. Interval training is discussed to peak at the proper time, differences in muscle tissue and recovery and different methods of training without sticks using slightly extra weight and stretch bands. Speed drill charts are given for 32 measures, 100, 500 & 1000 measures encompassing both fast twitch and slow twitch muscle control.


All of the author's competition solos from 1969 to 1976 are written out showing the differences in judging sheets, coordination ability and speed with complexity leading into the three year development of the 1976 "Lazer Beam" solo scoring 300/300 in General Effect and 297/298 in difficulty for the DCI World Championship

The Basic Technique of Rudimental Drumming  

©  All Rights Reserved  $30  (plus shipping)  114 Pages

This book was written for drummers just beginning their competitive journey. 

 It challenges the student with increasing levels of isolated rudiment coordination difficulty having strong accents and low grace notes or interior taps (as opposed to the "Standard 26 American Rudiments" that puts stickings in Civil War Camp Duty order). The first four rudiments are Double Stroke Roll - the most needed, Single Stroke Roll – the most basic, Paradiddle – The easiest lead hand switch and the Flam – the most difficult to learn and apply with good execution. Add two more in the "Quad" and "Triplet" which are common arrangement stickings to form a basic pad to launch from. It then goes into "lead hand switch" singles patterns to teach coordination faster. It includes "Troublemakes", the oft forgotten rudiment of history books and battlefields,

the Tap Six Stroke Roll. Drum set players and corps snare lines take advantage of its powerful easy fitting accent pattern and generous speed. 


The book is set up in the not traditional sense of the "26" – it does not include the 11, 13 or 15 Stroke Rolls -  but holds to the needed sticking patterns of today's training technology and the style execution training of the master teachers from previous eras that invented the use of drumming physics from the fife and drum corps.


There are 100 examples of rudiment stickings from simple to complex, from single tap to buzz examples.

Each rudiment is to be broken down. There are short 4 and 8 measure coordination exercises to retain each different skill level and mix it with other elements.  These can be played as one page straight through. Timing difficulty is added. All these exercises favor the left hand lead which make the performance right lead about 20% stronger and more reliable under pressure.


Basic Combinations: Double & Single Stroke Roll, Paradiddle, Flam, Quad, Triplet

Basic Lead Hand Switch: Single Stroke Ruff, Four Stroke Ruff, Seven & Thirteen SIngles

Basic Double Stroke Roll Rudiments: 5 7 9 17 (used in modern notation)

Ruff & Diddle Rudiments: Three Stroke Ruff, Drag, lesson 25, Drag Paradiddle, Double Drag Paradiddle, Paradiddle Diddle

Basic Flam Rudiments: Flam Quad, Flam Triplet

Extended Diddles: Double Paradiddle, Triple Paradiddle

Basic Multiple Bounce: Triple Stroke Roll (bounce rudiment)

Flam Diddles: Flam Paradiddle, Flam Tap (both bounce rudiments)

Open & Tap Double Stroke Rolls: Open 6, Tap 7, Tap 6

Ratamacues & Extentions: Single Ratamacue, Ratamacue Septuplet, Ratamacue Nontet

Soft Flam Coordination: Flamacue, Flam Quad – Accent 3

Basic Backsticking: Backsticked Ruff, Paradiddle, Drag (hand to hand)

Multiple Drags & Ratamacues: Double Drag, Triple Drag, Double & Triple Ratamacue

Basic Buzz Textures: Buzz Roll, Buzz Triplet, BuzzParadiddle

Backsticked Diddles: Backsticked Double & Triple Paradiddles

Short Duration Single Stroke Rolls: Single Five Stroke Roll, Single Six Stroke Roll

Accented textures: Stutterdiddle, Stutter Drag

Texture Variations: Swiss Army Sextuplet, Windmills, Pada-Fla-Fla, Flam Triplet Accent 2, Swiss Sextuplet

Buzz Coordination: Buzz Drag, Buzz Ratamacue, Open Six Stroke Buzz Roll

Lead Hand Switch Flam Coordination: Flam Drag, Flam Ratamacue

Difficult Lead hand Flam Switches: Inverted Flam Tap, Flam Paradiddle Diddle, Flam Double Paradiddle


The remaining 36 examples are for solo competition with increasing difficulty using inverteds, buzzes with the accent and diddle contrasted to each other and accents that switch making coordination harder, useful for a demand score.

The Perfectionists

A History of Competitive Rudimental Snare Drumming

©  All Rights Reserved  (compiled but still being written)

This work explains the progression from the drum as a battlefield signal instrument than instrument that waged war on fife & drum stands and drum & bugle field shows also discussing the forward moving individual contests.

The book points out major shifts in weapon technology and therefore field maneuvers that made the need for a command structure alll the more important. Orders needed to be carried out more rapidly as firepower and weapons technology increased. This gave rise to a drummers duty as there were no watches. Common drumming srickings and duties across all languages.

The change from battlefield drummer to competition is handled and displays the new instruction techniques that befuddled high schools and colleges for decades. The gap between drum & bugle and fife and drum technical skills finally closed after a discussion over a few beers after a rehearsal. The result of that night affected the next 40 years of competitions and has merit today.

All the different snare genre finally come together under one judging system with fife & drum, Swiss, Pipe Band and orchestral concepts hitting the field and individual contests. The book then discusses how this became a zenith in economy and skills, after educators with no drumming expertise or experience, were allow to judge our contests. Today, the drum judge isn't even allowed on the field. He is on the track.

The book sates who did this and why.

The author traveled to the East Coast numerous times to interview his drum instructor and others he marched with and against from the Company of Fifers and Drummers in Ivorytn, Connecticut. Drummers who competed from the late 1920s to the 1970s showed up at "Jaybird Day". I was invited into many homes including the "drum room" of Champion Bobby Redican where he played "Redican's Rattler" through perfectly after a few tries. Which is why the book is called "The Perfectionists". 

It turns out drummers involved in these competitions all time periods truly are.

The Perfectionists


“I wanted to be perfect.”   


                    Rita [Macy] Bernert   1957  VFW National Champion


"Practice doesn't make perfect unless you can practice perfection."   


                   Gary Pagnozzi  1964 1965 1966   VFW National Champion


“We wanted to accomplish perfection.”   


                    Bobby Redican  1939 New York World’s Fair Champion


“I’m a perfectionist.  I’m a drummer.”  


                      John Bosworth   1958 USAF Quartet,  Top Secret Instructor


“No one ever made a mistake!  After a show the sheets said we did but...."      


                       Jimmy Giles   (The Gray Ghost)   Reilly Raiders  1946-1952


“J. Burns Moore was very serious and quite imposing all the time - a perfectionist.”    


                       Don Frederickson   1938 Student   NARD #1694 in 1946


“We would see if we could go through whole routines without a mistake. 



                       Bill Lundy     Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights


"We practiced all week – very intense.  We tore that field apart.  We tore ‘em up - won the show.  In the final number, Ginther was walking next to us.  He had nothing.  He smiled and was going WOW!  Gave us a thumb’s up and put his pad down."


                       Tony Sepe     Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights


“When we were on the field, we knew by concert we we’re gonna kick ass.  The judges would be around.  They never brought their clipboards up.”   


                       Ben Mical    Chicago Cavaliers   1961


“Duke Terreri was a perfectionist at the age of eighty.”   


                       Mike Del Corsano


“Redican was faster and faster, faster, FASTER…. PERFECT!  Later, Quigley was the same thing.  Frank Arsenault the same thing!  I wish I knew how they did it!”

“For individuals Charles Ploeger went into a world of his own; stern and perfect.”


                       Eric Perrilloux      Charles T. Kirk FDB 1937    New York Skyliners


"Practice doesn't make perfect unless you practice perfect.”

“A teacher must demand perfection from his students.”


                       Earl Strurtze   1928 National Champion  The Teacher of Champions


“Sturtze was a better technician than others; a German type perfectionist; very methodical.”


                       Matt Lyons   St. Francis Grammar School 1931


“Sturtze was a natural born perfectionist - an incredible perfectionist.”


                        Gary Pagnozzi   P.A.L. Cadets

©  All Rights Reserved  "The Perfectionists - A History of Competitive Rudimental Snare Drumming"

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