It’s the age old question – what’s more important, rudiment development or learning new and challenging music? I think every pipe band drumming teacher faces the same dilemma on a regular basis. I mean, if you don’t enforce the rudiment execution, then the scottish snare drum student wont be able to handle a pipe band drum score. However, if you hand them out a piece of music without the rudiment knowledge and skill, then they wont be able to progress or play it well.
During my travels teaching pipe band drumming in North America, New Zealand and Australia I met several drummers who had been drumming for 6 months to a year. They knew 5 or 6 drum scores and had competed with a pipe band! To me, I found it quite shocking to be honest. I mean, these players were literally coerced into learning the music so that the band had enough drummers to compete. I totally understand the predicament these pipe bands are in. However, would it not be better to take a year or two off from competitions, and build the ranks through education and non-competitive performances?
Provided the situation allows you – I suggest that rudiment development is the key to short term and long term success in scottish snare drumming. In fact, I would go as far as saying that rudiment practice is a lifelong journey that every pipe band drummer must follow. Talking with many of the worlds top pipe band drummers, they say that they spend 60-95% of their practice time on rudiments, execution and technique development.
I personally practice more rudiments than drum scores. In fact, I can honestly say that 80% of my practice is purely on rudiments. I generally lock the pipe band drum scores in my head and then practice them when I am out for a walk – mentally rather than physically. Nowadays, more and more people are realising that scottish drumming, and bagpiping are very mentally challenging – not just physically or technically.
If you are ever asking yourself why you have to practice rudiments so much – remind yourself that your drum scores will flow much better for doing so. And in doing so, you will develop the correct technique to execute the score to a greater level.
n.b. Pipe Band drummers – rudiments are king.