Develop Drum Hand Speed, Power, And Control!
There are three basic ways to play the drum kit with your hands. You can play each stroke using your wrists, your fingers, or combinations of both. In this particular lesson, we're going to go over the wrist technique and the advantages it offers. In the weeks ahead I'll follow this lesson up with two more covering finger techniques and combinations of wrist and finger techniques.
Why Use Wrists For Drumming?
Most people don't rush out of the gate with all sorts of amazing finger-technique, and thus they have to start with the basics. Playing with your wrists comes fairly naturally for most people, so it's an obvious starting point.
However, I would argue that maintaining wrist speed, power, and control is extremely important - even after you have learned to play finger techniques. There are a number of good reasons to develop and eventually combine both methods.
One thing many people overlook is that you get significantly more power when playing with wrists. Playing double stroke rolls on a low floor tom, for example, just doesn't sound right when played with finger-based techniques. Wrists provide the full power, and control necessary to make that roll sound clean.
Developing speed in your wrists also allows you to do more with finger-based techniques when you combine both elements together. I always try to keep my wrist speed as close to my finger speed as possible. Later, when you begin playing advanced techniques like the Moeller method, you will begin to see why this offers such an advantage.
Practicing The Drums With Wrists
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if you are truly playing using only wrists. It's easy to begin bouncing the stick a little in a double stroke roll, or using some finger technique in a simple paradiddle pattern. That's why I would recommend you spend some time practicing on a non-rebound surface. You can use something simple like a pillow, or a professional RTOM workout pad. Either way, as long as you can practice on something that offers very little or no bounce - you're good to go.
Practice playing singles (r,l,r,l,r,l,r,l), doubles (r,r,l,l,r,r,l,l), or paradiddles (r,l,r,r,l,r,l,l) along to a metronome. Set the speed fairly low and just focus on control. This is extremely important. Many drummers that want to develop speed start turning up the metronome way too fast. It is vital that you develop control over speed when first learning. Speed will come automatically once you begin to develop control over your wrists with these various patterns. Trying to shortcut control by focusing on speed will only hold you back. I've seen it over and over. Do NOT make this mistake.
Focus on staying relaxed and playing things perfectly in time with the click. Breathe deeply while you play, and work towards building muscle memorization. Train your muscles to play things right the first time and you will save years of corrective practice down the road.
Building Speed and Endurance
Once you have begun to develop your technique with solid control - then you can begin to develop speed and endurance. This is done best through repetition and controlled "burn through" exercises. Like a trained athlete - you need to push your muscles to the next level without losing control.
Start by playing singles, doubles, or paradiddles as sixteen notes at 100 BPM (or a moderate speed of your choice). Slowly move up in increments of 5 BPM until you are playing at about 50 BPM faster than when you started (in this example - 150 BPM). Spend some quality time at each speed - only increasing the metronome when you have played for a few minutes with complete control.
You may very well be able to play significantly faster than 150 BPM at the time, but that isn't the point. You want to develop control at all speeds, and the ability to play for extended periods of time. When you return to repeat the exercises (a day later perhaps), try starting out about 20 BPM faster than your last start point. Repeat and only progress to 50 BPM faster than the new starting point.
It may seem like a slower method of mastery, but it pays off in the long run. Don't rush through exercises or think that a particular speed offers no value to you. Dedicate two weeks to these exercises and see the results you get with daily improvements. I'm sure you will be pleased.
Once you develop your hand speed as fast as you possibly can, try developing a one handed drum roll. There are a couple different methodsfor doing this secret technique. Jared Falk demonstrates a couple of these methods in his One Handed Drum Roll DVD.
Advanced Drumming Tips
Related content you may also be interested in...
Improve Your Bass Drum Speed And Control - Many drummers have amazing hand speed and control, but still find it difficult to master basic single strokes on a double pedal.
Learn To Play Drums The Easy Way - Do you want to learn how to play the drums? Think it may be too difficult or require a lot of coordination? I've got great news for you! The truth of the matter is - if you can count to four, you can play the drums!
Save Valuable Practice Time With These Tips - These tips apply to any drum book, so keep them in mind no matter what you are studying. I might repeat some things that are already written in drum books, but I want to make sure all the important things are covered here in one place.
Learn The Right Way To Hold Your Sticks - Proper Stick Grip is one of the most essential skills all drummers must have. Getting the most bounce and response from your sticks all starts with how you hold your them. So take a look, and see if you are doing it right!
Learn How to Warm Up and Stretch - Learn some key warm up and stretching excercises for drummers. This will allow you to drum for longer periods of time. Save your self from arthritis and other pain down the road!