How to Play the Flam Tap

The Flam Tap is another one of those onomatopoeic words that early drum teachers used to teach their students how to play the rudiments on the snare drum. It’s simply a Flam then a tap and they are played with alternate sticking.

Before you go any further with this lesson, make sure you understand what the Flam is and how to play one by watching our earlier lessons on how to play flams.

flam tap music notation

How to Play Fast Flam Taps on the Snare Drum

There’s a trick to doing this. Look at the sticking of the Flam Tap. It’s lR R rL L lR R rL L and so on. If you look at the sticking and take away the very first left (l) you will see that the sticking is simply RRR LLL RRR LLL or a triple stroke roll, but the final R or L becomes the Flam or grace not stroke.

Here’s a fun way to look at it. Let’s call the triple stroke roll Clark Kent. He’s relaxed and mild mannered but when you take the same sticking and compress it into the Flam Tap you end up with the Man of Steel, aka Superman.

Play your triple stroke roll and then try to compress it into the Flam Tap. With a bit of practice you’ll be able to play Flam Taps just as fast as you can play a triple bounce roll.

This is a great exercise to build your technique so remember:

  • Triple stroke roll RRRLLLRRRLL = Clark Kent
  • Flam Tap lR R rL L lR R rL L = Superman

Watch this video where I try to keep a straight face while I explain this logic and the very important technique of the Flam Tap.

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