Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Introduction to Hand, Wrist, Finger and Arm Technique

I hope some of you have had a chance to digest some of what I've discussed in my previous entry about hand technique and stick control if you haven't please do feel free to read at your own pace and decide what works best for you.

Now that we've scratched the surface of developing basic hand technique, it's time to kick it up a notch literally. 

This will be a two part posting the first pertains to the use of a metronome as a practice aid and the second will speak to the actual rebound of the stick as well as finger technique which will be fully addressed in a future post.

The basic approach is getting the student used to having the "lumber in your hands" and then slowly introducing differing forms of finger control, wrist and finger rebound techniques as well as arm movement.

Now if you are a drummer you'll be very familiar with the next device in aiding you in your way to developing truly great hand technique as well as improving your overall stamina. 

NOTE:  The metronome is one of the very best friends a drummer can have and it can also be the most intimidating to a lot of beginners for various reasons which I will go into at length in a future posting which deals with Human Time versus Metronomic Time.

After you've gone through the first page of Stick Control you've no doubt realized where the weaknesses and strengths lie in your own hand technique and that is an empowerment and a tool to be used all in one, no worries if you're still working on the stickings it will take some time if these concepts are new to you, move at your own pace.

The basic premise to working up any of these stickings to performance ready status is to start as slowly as you need to in order to facilitate perfect execution of the the exercises and there is no better way to keeping yourself "honest" than using a metronome.

Once you feel you've gone through the first page of SC (Stick Control) with minimal difficulty, I suggest you turn your metronome on a very slow setting and when I say slow, I mean slow.

Somewhere around 54 BPM (Beats Per Minute) would be a very good tempo to start at and should feel very comfortable as a good warm up for what will come after your first attempt.

With your metronome set at 54 BPM go through each exercise again, 4 times each, then moving on to the next one WITHOUT STOPPING!!

Do the whole page at least once without stopping even if you incorrectly execute the sticking patterns do not stop, try and stay focused where you're at keep moving down the page. 
Once you've complete your first pass with your metronome, turn it off - take a 2 minute breather to let your arms and wrists rest then mentally go over those exercises which gave you trouble.  With your metronome still off, go ahead and work out the stickings on the troublesome exercises and do the whole page over again only this time move the metronome setting to 55 BPM.

NOTE: If you find that is still a bit much than by all means slow the tempo down to your original one or wait altogether until you feel confident you've worked out all the sticking exercises without a metronome. 

Whichever works for you, at the end of the day it is what works best for you in this whole process.

By the way for any of you more adventurous pupils of the instrument, you can do all these exercises with brushes as well and they are a great way to warm up before a gig and it is very quiet you could do it
practically anywhere!

Again as with any aspect of drumming we as drummers have to be careful to not overdo any aspect of rigorous technical exercises as you could cause serious damage to your Ulnar nerve which is the key
cause of , dare I even say it, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which would effectively end anyone's drumming career.  There's also Tendonitis as well as Arthritis to be concerned with so if you have any pain or
discomfort during any of these exercises STOP IMMEDIATELY and rest for a few moments before proceeding any further.  Thank you.


Hand, Finger, Wrist and Arm Techniques

There are a number of differing techniques employed by drummers regarding finger control, wrist movement and arm movement and I can guarantee you if you ask 5 drummers how their technique was developed, each one of them would have differing theories on technique.

But I will lay it out for you ...  There is no secret to good hand technique the only secret is deciding which combination works best for you and which ones will allow you to accomplish everything you need to say at the instrument without sputtering, or seeming to flail at the drums.

There is a reason why I've left the actual hand positioning of the drumstick til now, which I addressed at the very beginning of this posting.  It only matters that you get the lumber in your hands at first, to feel
the weight of the sticks and how that new wood feels against your fingers and the underside of your palm, how the butt can be manipulated into any action deemed necessary by the drumming student.

But there always comes a time when it becomes necessary to fine tune a thing and that time is now and unfortunately it is the most difficult part of your technique to master but I can assure you, once you do you will find yourself playing at a level that will shock and surprise you and thrill every cell in your body.

It's a level of complete rhythmic and creative expression which will honestly take a lifetime to truly master but, the sooner you have the truth the sooner you can start focusing in on what needs to be accomplished.

Having the ability to play whatever you hear in your head EXACTLY the way it sounds on the drum set is the goal and these methods can help you achieve just that but it is a difficult road and will be challenge you at every turn but, you must endeavor to persevere!

I will, over the course of the next few days, post a few pictures on what your basic hand/stick position will look like as well as touch on subjects such as counting, balance and posture, practice ideas and rhythmic ear training as well.  Whether you decide to use Traditional Grip or Matched Grip / French Timpani Grip whatever you prefer experiment with them all to see which one works best for you.

Please if you have any and I mean ANY questions at all do feel free to either submit them or if you'd prefer them to be confidential by all means send me an email at and I will help you out as much as I can.

Rhythmically Yours,

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