Prior to 1933, three books on drumming provided three different standard ways of performing specific rhythmic patterns. The Drummer's and Fifer's Guide by George Bruce and Daniel Emmett in 1862, Strube Drum and Fife Instructor by Gardiner A. Strube in 1869, and Trumpet and Drum by John Philip Sousa in 1886 all had wide distribution and followings that used their specific way of performing drum rudiments. After WWI, the American Legion was responsible for sponsoring national contests for Drum and Bugle Corps. Since there was no clear standard between the drum rudiments in three books that were widely used, there was a great deal of concern, confusion and complaints.
On June 20, 1932, William F. Ludwig & The Ludwig Drum Company hosted a meeting of prominent drum instructors to identify a standard set of drum rudiments that would incorporate as much of the three methods as possible. The group retained the Bruce & Emmett roll, open and closed as well as the Lesson 25 of the Stube method. In all, they identified 26 drum rudiments, 13 were identified as essential and 13 additional. Eight of the original thirteen founders of the National Association of Rudimental Drummers were professional percussion performers and insisted upon strict rules for membership to the organization. One could only join by demonstrating the ability to perform an open and close the performance of the 13 Essential Drum Rudiments. This membership became important in obtaining employment in the drum profession at that time.
The National Association of Rudimental Drummers provided strong direction for the education of drum rudiments and used money collected through membership fees to provide copies of the standard drum rudiments to band teachers, judges, and students. Information was also disseminated through clinics that they sponsored at schools and through Drum and Bugle Corps organizations and events.
In 1978, the National Association of Rudimental Drummers was close to ten thousand members, but was forced to cease operations. This is thought to be a main factor in a decline in the importance of drum rudiments in schools and Drum and Bugle Corps.
See also Percussive Arts Society (PAS)