The Modern Concert Snare Drum Roll

Here is a video preview of The Modern Concert Snare Drum Roll, available for purchase from Meredith Music.

Essentially everyone, musicians and non-musicians alike, has heard a snare drum roll.  It is a fundamental element to many classical pieces of music, including even our own national anthem. While elementary to our listening, it is also perhaps one of the toughest technical skills to master.  This book examines every aspect of the snare drum roll and provides resources for the student to learn, understand, and apply it to their own playing. Through written explanations, pictures, exercises and more the snare drum roll is no longer a mystery and something anyone can understand.

For years the snare drum roll has been taught with the focus initially being on the sound. Knowing what a roll is supposed to sound like is actually very easy and straightforward. Everyone wants that sustained smooth sound with no hiccups or bumps. Obviously this is the ultimate goal, but the skills needed to create that sound need to be examined first. By shifting the focus from sound to technique (temporarily), the student can master the necessary techniques without being distracted by the sounds they are making. Once the skills are more polished and new muscle memory has been created, the focus can slowly shift back to sound.

Rather than start with a single stroke technique and alter it in many different ways this book teaches the technique on its own as a unique technique. The Modern Concert Snare Drum Roll centers around three basic principles: the arm creates the downward motion of the stick, the wrist stabilizes and acts as a transfer of energy between the arm and the hand, and the fingers control the stick and the number of rebounds. Understanding why a technique works is just as important as understand how it works. Once these new skills are understood the player will be able to execute the roll in virtually any musical situation.

Several other important topics are covered which will bring the subject of the snare drum roll full circle and ready for application in a musical performance. Those topics are: basic set up of the drum, the release of the roll, the transition back and forth from single strokes to the roll, metered versus unmetered rolls, dynamics, and also an entire section devoted to advanced exercises. This book will provide beginners, experienced musicians, and professionals with valuable knowledge regardless of their skill level.  This book will be useful to anyone who wants to start from the beginning or hone their already fine-tunes skills. It is designed to give the teacher a resource to teach from and the student something to practice and learn from at home.

Praise for The Modern Concert Snare Drum Roll

“This book is an important resource in developing, maintaining, and improving what is both one of the most basic and yet continually difficult things percussionists do on the snare drum…that is, playing a beautiful roll from the top of the dynamic range to the bottom. The Modern Concert Snare Drum Roll is a great addition to my personal collection and teaching library.”
James Ross—Percussionist, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Adjunct Professor of Percussion, Northwestern University

“Will James has taken the mystery and confusion out of one of the most important aspects of snare drum playing – THE ROLL! Through Will’s detailed explanation and outstanding photos, every component of the roll is addressed, described and expounded upon. The Modern Concert Snare Drum Roll is an absolute necessity for any percussionist, at any level!”
Keith Aleo—Percussion Instructor Boston Conservatory, University of Connecticut, & Interlochen Arts Academy; Director of Education and Orchestral Activities, Zildjian Cymbal Company

“This book provides all of the photos, exercises and specific technical descriptions one could possibly need to develop a great snare drum roll (no small feat). Bravo to Will for making it all accessible within a single publication!”
Chris Deviney—Principal Percussionist, Philadelphia Orchestra; Temple University, Adjunct Professor

View all reviews for The Modern Concert Snare Drum Roll


Thanks to Meredith Music and Garwood Whaley for helping me edit the book and being a great publisher!