Book Reports are a great hybrid drum rudiment and are a lot of fun to play. However, they often give rudimental drummers a good deal of frustration because they can be a bit tricky to get comfortable with and master. Naturally, a common question that rudimental drummers ask is: How do I improve my Book Report rudiments? If you’re asking the same question and want to improve your Book Report rudiments, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, you’re going to learn an extremely effective method and exercise for mastering the common hybrid drum rudiment that is a blast to play!
To truly master the Book Report, you’ve got to understand the ins and outs of the rudiment of the rudiment itself. To get started, take a few minutes to check out this short documentary on the Book Report aka “Stivadiddles” and how the came to be as verified by Ralph Hardimon, Jeff Queen, Mike McIntosh, and Pete Sappadin. It’s a great story and gives you some insight of how the hybrid rudiment came to be.
As noted in the video, the rudiment has a few names including "Stivadiddles" but is most commonly known today as the Book Report. We’ll use the term “Book Report” when referring to the rudiment in this article but know that it can also be called the Stivadiddle.
The Book Report is made up of multiple embellishments so the best way to master it is to break it down and practice each embellishment in an isolated fashion.
To get started, take a look at the sticking of the Book Report and you’ll notice that it is built on top of Single Paradiddle sticking. If you play a Book Report off of your right hand, the main sticking is RLRR and if you play a Book Report off of your left hand the main sticking is LRLL.
As a result, you want to make sure that you are extremely comfortable playing Single Paradiddles before learning Book Reports. After all, if you’re having a hard time playing smooth and consistent Single Paradiddles it’s going to be extremely hard to make your Book Reports sound good!
Here are all of the single embellishments that you should practice individually:
Foundation) The first thing you want to do is practice your Single Paradiddles and make sure the underlying rhythm is smooth and consistent as you transition from single strokes to double strokes.
Single Embellishment 1) After you have perfected your Single Paradiddles, add a diddle on the downbeat and practice it slowly until you become comfortable and consistent with it. The key here is to make sure that your Single Paradiddle quality doesn’t change and that the diddle you add on the downbeat is nice and open.
Single Embellishment 2) Practice playing Single Paradiddles with flams on the “+” of the beat. Again, make sure that the quality of your Single Paradiddle doesn’t change. Allow the grace note of the flam to drop in naturally and flow with the Paradiddle. These are also known as Tutachitas.
Single Embellishment 3) Practice playing single accented Paradiddles with a diddle on the last partial. Again make sure that the single paradiddles are consistent and your diddle quality is great.
After you have practiced each step individually and feel comfortable with all of the isolated embellishments on the Single Paradiddle, it is time to practice combinations of two embellishments at a time.
Once you become comfortable with all of the individual aspects of the rudiment based on top of a single paradiddle, practice playing two embellishments at a time to gain a better understanding of the relationship between them. Work through the same process as above with the following combinations:
Double Embellishment 1) The first of the double embellishment breakdowns includes the diddle on the downbeat and the flam on the third partial. It's essentially a Tutachita with a diddle on the downbeat.
Double Embellishment 2) The second double embellishment breakdown includes the flam on the third partial of the single paradiddle and a diddle on the fourth partial. It's essentially a Tutachita with a diddle on the fourth partial.
Double Embellishment 3) The third double embellishment breakdown includes the both diddles on the Book Report.
Practice all of the single and double embellishments slowly with a metronome and make sure that you’re focusing on the rhythmic integrity of the Single Paradiddle, diddle quality, and flam quality in each. After you’ve practiced all of the embellishment variations individually, move on to the Book Report Build Up exercise below:
Here’s a great exercise that includes all of the individual and paired Book Report embellishments. It utilizes Single Paradiddles as the check of the exercise so that you can alway return to the base of the hybrid rudiment before focusing on the next embellishment grouping.
Book Reports can be a tricky hybrid rudiment to learn and play but the reason most people struggle with them is because they never take the time to break them down. If you work on perfecting all of the individual embellishments of a Book Report and then combine them by playing through the Book Report Build Up exercise, there’s no doubt that the quality and consistency of your Book Reports will improve significantly.