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I love paradiddles.


A paradiddle is a drum rudiment that drummers use to work on coordination, among other things. I’m introducing these as a way for you to experience rhythm in your entire body, instead of just your arms. This will seriously improve your sense of rhythm.


We’ll play these by tapping our hands on our thighs. Unless you’ve got a drum kit…


Bear with me. We’ll transfer this to the guitar in the next post, but this is one of those ideas that benefits from a bit of work away from the guitar. Most rhythm work is that way.


The upper body

The “para” part of paradiddle means alternate hand-tapping starting with either the right hand or the left hand. If all you did was the “para” part you would just tap your thighs starting with either left hand or right hand, and alternate them. Here it is starting with the right hand (R = right hand; L = left hand).

repeated para



The “diddle” part means playing twice in a row with either just the left hand or just the right hand.

repeated diddle



A paradiddle starting with a right hand/left hand alternation is followed by right hand/right hand. We’ll abbreviate this to RLRR.



Follow that with LRLL You get this pattern: RLRR LRLL. Practice this until you’re comfortable with it. Be patient. It might be frustrating at first. But once you get it, you’ll love it.

RL paradiddle

The whole body

Once you’re comfortable with this, alternate foot taps while you do it. In other words, tap left foot, right foot. Continue alternating feet while you tap RLRRLRLL on your thighs.


Do this really slowly at first. Do it to the point of frustration and stop. This is not giving up. This is slowly introducing a really complex movement into the body.


Do it again the next day and it will be a bit better. Ignore the voices in your head telling you that you can’t do this. Continue this for a week, and your body will see it as familiar instead of strange. Then it starts to be fun.


The point of this is to use the whole body to experience rhythm. This translates to better rhythmic control on the guitar. The work is worth it. Really.

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