technique

Velocity and How To Use It To Your Advantage In Your Drumming Technique

Dear Drummers,

This short post is aimed at those of you who are feel you are working too hard at the drumset to execute the ideas you want to express musically. Oftentimes, it is due to a lack of understanding of how fast or how slow we are throwing the sticks down to the drum or how fast or slow the pedal is striking the bass drum.

I wish to break down in this post the concept of Velocity as applied to drumming technique:

Velocity is generally defined as “the speed of an moving object in a given direction”.

Velocity has a direct influence on 1) the type of sound you produce on the drums, and 2) the degree of tension and relaxation in your technique.

i. Velocity Affecting Sound Produced On Drums:

When a stick is thrown slowly on the drum surface to produce a sound, the sound quality of that sound is thin. You hear more of the batter head of the drum along with the vibration of the snare wires against the resonant head (bottom side) of the drum, and less of the sonic qualities of the drum’s shell, the resonance of the metal parts, and the stick.This works well if you are playing rhythms that are less dense, but needs to be played with less fuller sounding tones, at slower speeds, and also at quieter volumes.

Throwng a stick down to the drum at a faster speed however will produce a fuller sound where you also hear an increase in volume. There is greater tonal detail of the drum which includes more resonance from the drum shell, the metal parts, and the stick itself (assuming you don’t grip the stick tightly). This works well obviously for louder volumes but also for quieter rhythmic passages which may require speed and greater dexterity.

As you can see here these differences in sonic qualities can be effected at ANY volume. Thus, for that matter, stick height and velocity are totally two different concepts but when combined together, you will not have to play in inefficient ways such as:

1) Lifting the sticks too high off the drums for volume and power

2) Whacking the drum harder to produce fuller sounds.

II. Velocity Affecting Technique

“Newton’s Third Law Of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

The above law of physics is the governing principle to this concept of velocity affecting technique.

We all know that good technique involves the rebound of the stick or the bass drum beater so that you do not have to do the extra work of picking the stick or the bass drum  pedal beater back up before making the next stroke. The question is how much rebound from either are you getting as leverage for the effort you put in?

Leverage is defined as “the mechanical advantage or power gained by using a lever.” “Lever”, in the case of drumming technique, is the use of the different joints in your hand  (wrists, fingers, elbow, and shoulders) and your feet  (ankle, knee, and hip).

It is very important to understand that a higher degree of relaxation at any volume and at any tempo when using either of these joints in your hands and feet will result in a greater amount rebound from the stick or the bass drum pedal beater, which will thus provide leverage for the effort you put in. Again, if you do it correctly, the effort you put in is not as much as you would think. Ideally, you would want a 50/50 balance between the effort you put in and the leverage you get from the rebound. 

How does this work?

If you throw the stick down slowly, the stick will not have enough rebound to bounce back up quickly. This means you will still have to pick the stick back up. Throwing the stick down faster instead with a relaxed grip allows the stick “breathing space” within your hand to rebound quickly. This allows you to play more efficiently and with less effort at any volume or tempo. The above principles also apply to bass drum technique.

In conclusion, depending on the sound you want to achieve, the density of your rhythms, and the speed and volume at which you play those rhythms, varying the degree of velocity will add flexibility to your existing technique that will eliminate doing everything from just one method, which can physically hurt you. 

Please bear in mind that you cannot have just one way of doing everything you want to do on the drums if you want efficiency and relaxation.

If you’re in Singapore and would like to take a lesson with me on this, I can be reached at: 98291901 or treshombres6@gmail.com.

Please also check out these great instructional books and DVDs on the subject of drumming technique. I use these resources in my lessons and in my own development. I have better technique today than I did 5 years ago and I will have even better technique 5 years from now if I continue to refine the concepts learnt from within these resources:

1) Playing With Sticks (DVD) – Jeff Queen (Hudson Music)

– There’s a segment where he explains the concept of “Velocity” in a very clear, common-sense, way. Although catered mainly to marching ensemble drummers , everything discussed in this DVD can be adapted to drumset playing as well.

2) The Next Level (Book) – Jeff Queen (Hudson Music)

– There’s a chapter devoted to “Velocity” along with other very comprehensive technical topics that can be employed by any drummer. 

3) A Natural Approach To Technique (DVD) – Joe Morello (Hot Licks Productions)

The late, great Joe Morello was one of those drummers who had the greatest technique in the world. In this DVD, he breaks down all the technical concepts with simple language, lots of wisdom, and dashes of humour.

4) Great Hands For A Lifetime (DVD) – Tommy Igoe (Hudson Music)

I use “The Lifetime Warmup” routine included in this DVD package in my daily practice. Very inspiring and challenging!!

5) Bass Drum And Hi-Hat Technique (DVD) – Michael Packer (Hal Leonard)

This instructional method helped me improve my feet on the bass drum and hi-hat pedals. 

Many of my students benefited from working on these methods in their lessons with me and in their private studies too!

Thank you for reading this post, I hope it will at least provide food for thought when you assess your technique.

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Drumming Technique Simplified

Hi all,

I decided to write this post after a very interesting lesson with a student. It was one of those lessons that seemed frustrating at first because the student was not really getting it, but one and a half hours later, he made a discovery. What was it?

DRUMMING TECHNIQUE SIMPLIFIED.

What is this and how is it done?

First, let us look at 3 steps to making a stroke on the drum:

1) Your stick is parallel to the drum surface about at least an inch above the drum with your wrist angled flat. Alternatively, if you prefer to hold your sticks with your thumbs up, then the thumb is on top of the stick parallel to the surface of the drum, again at least an inch above the drum. This can be called the REST POSITION.

2) From the Rest Position, you raise your stick to a desired height to execute the stroke.

3) The stick strikes the drum and you now have the option to stop the stick at the REST POSITION or allow it to rebound up.

With point no.3, why do you have these two options? It is because of the next note you are going to play. Is it a soft note or a loud one? If it is a soft note, you just have to stop the stick at the Rest Position and lightly tap the drum from there. You immediately achieve a stroke with the right sound and texture for a soft note. If this note is instead a loud one, you must then allow the stick to rebound immediately after the previous stroke and then you thrust the stick down again to achieve the right sound and texture for a loud note. Am I making sense?

TIMING OF YOUR STROKE:

The timing of your stroke will depend on two things:

1) Your ability to hear where the stroke should land in relation to the time

2) HOW you prepare for that stroke such that it lands correctly in time.

Point No.1 is extremely crucial. You are a musician and your ears are your greatest weapons. Train your ears to hear the time accurately and it will go miles for your development. Thus, when you make a stroke, you want to know where the stroke should be in the bar and if you can hear it in your mind? This is where practising with a metronome comes in. Verbalizing the stroke aloud with or without actually playing the stroke will also help you determine the accuracy of your timing.

Point No. 2 is the “make-it-or-break-it” in the success of your execution. Once you are able to hear the stroke accurately in your mind, you then want to PREPARE for the stroke in an efficient and relaxed manner, so that the stroke lands right on the money and you physically feel great doing so. Pay attention to how your hands and feet FLOW with the time. Drumming is like a dance – alot of the activity of drumming takes place above the surfaces of the instrument (The late great Freddie Gruber would teach this too). Therefore, if your motions flow well with the time at whichever tempo, you are relaxed, and you are NOT THINKING TOO MUCH BUT RATHER FEELING THAT FLOW THROUGH YOUR BODY, you will always achieve accuracy and consistency in your playing.

In summary, having a GOOD FLOW in your physical motions on the drumset is highly essential to playing well.

To find out more, book a lesson or a couple of lessons with me. Contact me at jason@pulseofmusic.com for more information!

I hope this article opens up your awareness to the actual simplicity of drumming technique.

 

Rudimental Snare Drum Technique Course

I’m launching private instruction in Rudimental Snare Drum Technique for concert and marching band drummers, as well as drumset players looking to have an in-depth study of the rudiments and their applications on the drumset.

This is a very streamlined course that focuses on studying all the groups of rudiments: Single Stroke Roll and Ruffs, Double Stroke Roll and Short Double Stroke Rolls, Paradiddles, Flams, Drags, Ratamacues, and Hybrid Rudiments.Sight-reading of Snare Drum pieces will be included in the lessons.

I will be teaching at the Home Ground studio located at 45 North Canal Road, Lew Building, 2nd Floor (facing Hong Lim Park and Clarke Quay MRT Station Exit A)

Call me at 98291901 to book a free trial lesson and for further enquiries!