For those who are not familiar with the National Association of Rudimental Drummers, here is a brief history of this organization. The Association was organized during the American Legion National Convention in 1933 by a group of prominent drummers, pictured on this page, who selected thirteen of the Standard American Drum Rudiments required for membership in this organization.
It should not be assumed that the purpose of this group was to originate or invent any of the Standard American Drum Rudiments, but was to review the early rudiments that first came from Switzerland 200 years previously, at a time when music notation was not standardized.
The original rudiments found their way from Switzerland to France, then to England, and it was during the American Revolution that they were first introduced in the United States. Shortly thereafter, a number of publications using these rudiments appeared. One of the very first was by Charles Stewart Ashworth in 1812. Next came the Bruce & Emmett book in 1862 listing 26 rudiments, written by George B. Bruce, the principal drum instructor of the U.S. Navy at Governors Island, New York; Daniel D. Emmett, was the composer of the famous Civil War tune “Dixie.” This was the first book ever published which advocated the accenting of the second beat of the
"da-da-ma-ma" long roll in practice. Then followed the Strube "Drum & Fife Instructor." Although all three books were based on drum rudiments, they unfortunately all differed slightly which resulted in some confusion. This confusion may have been one of the principal reasons for the publication of the "Trumpet and Drum" instruction book by John Philip Sousa in 1886. This book became the guide of all service drummers! John Philip Sousa, the great composer of military marches, realized the importance of standard drum rudiments in emphasizing the rhythm and uniformity of martial music and was a pioneer in that field.
The main objective of the thirteen organizers was to standardize a system of drumming by selecting a group of rudiments on which all corps and drummers would be judged. Thus they selected what we now refer to as the "Thirteen Essential Rudiments." The thirteen rudiments then were selected from the 26 Standard American Drum Rudiments as a test for membership in this association. It was assumed that the student who studies the first 13 Essential Rudiments, realizing their value, would, of his own accord, continue to study the remaining rudiments that may be termed as "auxiliary" rudiments. However, the first thirteen rudiments are considered absolutely necessary or essential -- both in contest and professional playing.
More info on the individual founders of N.A.R.D.:
HARRY THOMPSON - Prominent Chicago drummer, instructor, arranger and composer of special drum corps music.
GEORGE A. ROBINSON - Prominent theater drummer, instructor and composer.
BILL FLOWERS - Expert in rudimental instruction. Winner of national and state rudimental contests.
BILL KIEFFER - Drummer with the U.S. Marine Band and judge in both the National Legion Individual Drumming and Drum Corps contests held in Chicago.
BILL HAMMOND - Pittsburgh, PA. Snare drummer of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Expert rudimental instructor for all types of drummers --- dance, theater, grand opera and symphony.
JOE HATHAWAY - Corps instructor and winner of American legion 1932 Championship in individual drumming.
LARRY STONE - Instructor, teacher and composer of many instruction books. Snare drummer of
Boston Opera Co. and Boston Symphony Orchestra.
ROY KNAPP - Studio drummer of Radio Station WLS and prominent Chicago drum instructor.
WM F. LUDWIG - Former snare drummer of Chicago Grand Opera Co. and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Renowned drum manufacturer/proprietor - Ludwig & Ludwig (est. 1910), W.F.L. Drum Company (est. 1937), Ludwig Drum Company (est. 1955).
HEINE GERLACH - Four times National Champion Drummer of American Legion Contest.
J. BURNS MOORE - Timpanist of New Haven, Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. Prominent as a drum instructor throughout the New England States. Drum judge and corps instructor.
BILLY MILLER - Prominent theater drummer of Chicago, drum teacher and composer of drum corps marches.
ED STRAIGHT - Chicago’s most popular theater drummer and composer of many instruction books.
List of past N.A.R.D. Presidents
J. Burns Moore 1933-1945
George L. Stone 1945-1954
Frank Arsenault 1954-1966
William F. Ludwig 1966-1975
Mitch Markovich 1976-1977
For a great collection of vintage N.A.R.D. bulletins & memorabilia, please visit
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