This is a continuation of an earlier post about drumming technique.
USE A LOOSE GRIP
The death grip, while popular, lives up to its name by killing your speed and your sound. The stick bounces back from the head every time your strike it, and you need to learn to work with that rebound. If you don’t let the stick breathe, you’re working against the instrument instead of with it.
DON’T USE FINGERS
Take this advice with a grain of salt, as your fingers do have a role in drumming technique. But it’s a supporting role, not a lead. Your fingers should generally remain in contact with the stick the entire time, and your wrists do most of the work. Your forearm muscles are much, much stronger than your little hand muscles, so you’ll be able to play faster, longer, and avoid injury by letting your fingers support the stick instead of completely control its movement.
KEEP IDLE STICKS JUST ABOVE THE DRUM HEAD
The beginner’s tendency is to focus on the stick that’s actively playing a note and disregarding the idle one. Keep the stick you’re not actively using to make a stroke hovering just above the drum head. Don’t let it fly away. This way, when you’re ready to use it again, it’s starting from a neutral, and expected position. All you need to to is raise it and bring it down again, rather than find out where it is and guess how much force you need to bring it down again.
LET THE DOWNSTROKE TURN INTO THE UPSTROKE
Your body brings the stick down to the head, the head depresses, and when it tightens up again, it pushes the stick back up. Learn how to feel this rebound and turn it into your upstroke for the next beat. With tighter heads especially, like on marching drums, this will do much of the upstroke work for you. remember during the stroke that you have two external forces working for you: gravity on the way down and rebound on the way up. As you practice, learn to feel these forces and work with them naturally.
USE YOUR WRIST
I said it in the previous post about technique, but it’s worth repeating, because it’s the single most important concept for beginners to grasp. The motion of the drumstick comes from your wrist. Not your arms, not your fingers, but your wrist. It’s the part of your body most suited for the control, speed, and durability you need to play well.