The Paradiddle – Try Something New!


“Curtain Call” article from Campus Activities Programming® Oct 2015

I am a drummer. I love playing the drums. I am also a teacher. I love teaching the drums. Today, I want to teach you some drums. I want you to play along with me! All that I ask of you is that you have a great attitude, stay open to learning something new, and follow the instructions.

Ready to play along? Your answer is a resounding, “YES!!!” That’s great. Thanks for participating!

One of the first steps in learning to play the drums is to learn the fundamentals. In the world of drummers, the basic drum patterns are called “rudiments” and I am going to teach you a rudiment called the “paradiddle.” A “paradiddle” is called a “paradiddle” because it has a pair of diddles! That’s a drum teacher joke. It’s funny to drum teachers.

Below is the pattern that you will play with your hands. Helpful tip: “Right” refers to your right hand and “Left” is your left. Please play along by beating on your knees or desk (or if there are people in your office, try quietly tapping the pattern with your feet on the floor). 


Try again slowly. 


The second time through, repeat it immediately. Keep going right back to the beginning (the first RIGHT) and do it over and over. 

Great job! I am sure some of you got it! Don’t worry if you haven’t. Please try a few more times. Just repeat it again, keeping a steady rhythmic pattern. Remember, when you come to the end of the sequence, return to the beginning so there is no beginning or end. Once you get in the groove of the pattern, you may begin to move your body a bit and get into it. Don’t forget to breathe. Now, pretend you are the drummer in your favorite band. You are a rock star! 

Still need help? To make it easier, you can say the corresponding RIGHTS and LEFTS out loud as you play the pattern. Many drum students find that helpful. Also, if you say it loud enough, you will entertain anyone within earshot! Perhaps your colleagues will become interested and you can teach them the paradiddle, too!

Many of you were probably able to play the pattern after one or two attempts. Some of you may have taken a bit longer to coordinate all of your movements. That is OK and normal. We all learn in different ways. That’s why this example works. Learning the paradiddle is a metaphor for all of the new things to which we are introduced every day. Some things make sense right away and are easily understood and some take time to understand. It is our attitude towards the new activity and our willingness to participate that is most important. 

We are advisors, educators and student leaders. And, as persons of influence on our campuses, we must always be willing to explore the new ideas and activities to which we are introduced, whether they come from new students or seasoned industry experts. Every day we will be introduced to “paradiddles” (ideas, activities, concepts) and we can approach them with an open or closed mind, to explore or not to explore. It is most important that we keep our minds always open to the possibilities. That is our secret sauce for growth and success!

What if the next semester’s big event is something you have never attempted on your campus? What if your biggest success as an advisor is helping a student with an activity you will soon learn about at one of the fall regional conferences. Are you open or closed to the ideas? Are you willing to try something new? Think back a few minutes: were you willing to play the paradiddle? 

Maybe you grumbled a bit to yourself just then. But as the “paradiddle” becomes more familiar to you, and you spend even a little time on learning the drum pattern, your attitude towards it will change. You can rock the paradiddle! And, you will rock every new metaphorical paradiddle that comes into your life. All the new ideas, activities, concepts, novelty games, bands, comedians, family programs, spiritual programs, and even mobile petting zoos may at first seem foreign and maybe even scary. But, as you familiarize yourself and begin to understand their “groove,” you will begin to understand what they can do to enhance life on your campus. Thanks for staying open to the possibilities. Thanks for playing along! 

P.S. Want another challenge? Try the paradiddle pattern below and play the BOLD ones louder by raising your hands higher and hitting the desk harder on just those beats. 



Jason LeVasseur lives in Nashville, TN, and is one of the most awarded music performers in campus entertainment. He is also a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, summer camp counselor, husband, father, and the creator of “The Rock Star Project.” Visit

To see THE PARADIDDLE in action:

To learn more about NACA (National Association for Campus Activities)

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