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Polished up basics

Playing the drum set is usually done with a pair of sticks. You have the pieces of wood in your hands, you strike the surface, you get a sound. The principle seems simple enough.

It is not. Nobody has the same strength, the same touch, the same personality and, of course, the same training.

When I tell my students that they need to practice their single stroke roll (one strike per hand) or their double stroke roll (two stroke per hand) they assume that it is to, eventually, get so fast that the listener will hear a continuous sound coming from their effort: a roll.

It is not. It is not my only goal.

As they repeatedly work on their rudiments, they acquire an ease, a comfort with their sticks. They learn to hold them without any tension. They also learn how the surface reacts, whether it be a cymbal or a snare drum. Over time, they get to establish a relationship between these three elements: hands, sticks and surface. That’s how they develop their sound, their signature, if I may say.

This relationship will change over the years. Larry Mullen JR, U2’s drummer, doesn’t hit the drums the same way on their beginning albums as he does today. He has matured in his playing, his sound has changed.

And, once you have a strong understanding on how to strike a surface, you also get the method on excavating the best sound from anything you play: a tom, a hi hat, a pot or a pan. The whole world has become a percussion instrument.

So, I advice my students to practice their rudiments, to pay attention to the way they do those single or double stroke rolls, those paradiddles, because in them, in their core is hidden one of the most precious thing they will discover with a pair of sticks: their personality. 

 

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