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Best Way To Learn & Apply The Five Stroke Roll

Updated: Apr 24

Hi guys, my name is Andrea Gatti, and I'm the drum and percussion instructor at Drum Arts. I have been playing and teaching over the past two decades. My heart is to see my students and others growing in their passion by investing in the drummer's community. In this video, and article, I demonstrate the best way to learn and apply the five-stroke roll. We will see how this great rudiment can have many fun applications and be a great tool in our drum vocabulary. Let's dive into it!


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Why it's important to learn the five-stroke roll?

The five-stroke roll is one of the most used rolls, it has so many applications, it's not difficult to execute, and because of its nature of being a short roll, it can be inserted very easily in our playing!


How to learn and study the five-stroke roll

The first step to learning the five-stroke roll is to understand the mechanics of the movement.

  • Execute the first double while preparing for the accent by applying an upstroke (I prefer using the Moeller Technique).

  • Execute the second double.

  • Execute the accent with the hand that started the roll and should be in an upstroke position.

  • Repeat the process and invert the sticking.

Second step:

  • Instead of starting with the roll, start with the accent.

Third step:

  • Execute the five-stroke roll in various time signatures and subdivisions

  • Five-stroke roll in 3/4

  • As a cycle of 3 (Check out the PDF)

  • As a quintuplet starting with the accent

  • As a cycle of 5 in sixteenth notes over 5/4 (check out the PDF)


Receive your free Single Stroke Four PDF exercises!


How to apply the five-stroke roll

There are many ways to execute this rudiment, but which is the best way to apply the five-stroke roll in our drumming? I would say there is no best way to apply it! But for sure, there is a good way to learn it. (which we have already covered). The best way is whichever way your creativity suggests! Try to experiment, move around on the kit, try different positions and. combinations!

best way to learn and apply the five stroke roll - Andrea Gatti drum. teacher at Drum Arts TN


Here are a few examples of how to apply the five-stroke roll in our playing:

  • Use it as a fill: especially when used to create a cycle of 3 (See 3rd line on the PDF exercise page). Play the accents on the cymbals and the rolls on the snare to create a powerful fill. Keep in mind, that the cycle resolves in 3/4, so if played on a 4/4 time there will be one more beat to fill. Use your creativity to complete the measure.

  • Use it on the Hi-Hat as an embellishment: This will create a tasteful feel while being discrete. Sometimes when the music is soft and we don't want to "get in the way" of the song, playing this rudiment on the hi-hat will add articulation to the groove without being too invasive.

  • Use it for modulations: since the pattern of the five-stroke roll can be played over groups of 3 or 5 (check out the PDF). We can use these groups to create cool polyrhythms. This application may not be the best fit for beginners. If you're not there yet, keep it up, soon this will be accessible!

  • Use it on a grove: but Andrea, what do you mean by "use it in a groove?!" Yes, that is what I mean. I always try to see how I can apply in a groove, rudiments that I study. For instance, try to orchestrate the parts between the ride cymbal and the snare, or find other cool applications.

how to apply the five stroke roll - blog


Final thoughts on - Best way to learn and apply the five-stroke roll

So which is the best way to learn and apply the five-stroke roll? The steps are always the same. First, learn and assimilate the movements and understand the mechanics. Second, find as many ways as you can to apply it. Third, HAVE FUN WITH THE PROCESS!

In conclusion, the five-stroke roll is one of the most used, and versatile rudiments. It's quite immediate to learn and its uses are multiple. I hope this was inspiring for you. I encourage you to go and have fun finding many other applications.

If you would like to share your progress with us, ask a question, or if you have created your own variation, please leave a message or comment below. Your contribution is precious so we can grow as a drumming community ;).

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Understand how to approach the study of rudiments, and find creative ways to apply them. Check out our article on How To Approach The Rudiments - The Single-Stroke Four.

We look forward to hearing from you!


Andrea Gatti

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Thank you for your explanation it’s very detailed and accurate. Why you call some exercises cycles?

Replying to

Thanks for you for asking. I call them cycles since they are pattern that don't resolve (finish) always in the same place. Therefore they move throughout the subdivisions. Example: if a cycle finishes over three sixteenth notes, if played over a subdivision of four, it will take 3 movements or quarters for it to restart on the beat. Same thing for the cycle of 5 over four. It will. take five beats in order for it to start again on the beat.

I encourage you to check out the video ;)

I appreciate your engagement. Keep it up!


Apr 15

I'm new to drumming. Should I study this first or is there something else you would suggest to start with? Thanks.

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