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How to grab them

I’ve been teaching for 33 years now and I’ve seen all sorts. I am talking about how people hold a pair of drum sticks. Now, I need to write a little disclaimer: the wide majority of folks hold them correctly, meaning naturally.

But there are some notable exceptions. One of the most common one is too high. Instead of wrapping their hands around the bottom of the stick, they’re close to the middle. It throws off the whole purpose of the tool: to be a hammer. Because drummers have the wrath of Thor in our mittens. We can make as much noise too. Anyway, correcting that part is easy enough because 90 % of the time that comes from the player having the wrong sticks. Either too short or too long. Once they get the right size, like magic, they place their hands correctly.

I’ve seen also students holding the sticks with the back fingers. That works, for sure, and some pros do it. But the fulcrum is an important part of the control. Especially when it’s time to sizzle some delicate rudiments, the kind of pearly rolls you feel much more than you hear. Those back finger players require a bit more work to change their way.

Another popular one is pointing. All is good, only their index lay on top of the grip, pointing to wherever is the target. Not good. Not good for the health of the hand or the fingers (all of them). Their stroke become weak and slow, their sound muted because of the pointing.

If the player decide to play traditional, it can become very interesting. This is not an easy grip to master. If done wrong, the wave of the impact go crashing against the ligaments or bones of the left hand. Serious injuries could result from that. Carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve damage, broken bones, tendinitis, the list is long.

My philosophy, as far as holding the sticks is concern, is this one: whatever you feel comfortable with, as long as you don’t hurt yourself. I play at least four different grips in any given song depending which surface or groove I am doing. The way I hit the toms is not the same as the way I hit the snare, and those two are different from when I cruise on the ride, and, of course, I use the Moeller technique on top of all of those whenever the pattern or speed calls for it.

In general, you want to grab the sticks towards the bottom, maybe two fingers from the very bottom end of the stick. No pointing. And you want to use the wrist instead of the forearm. No pumping. And it’s important to have a very relaxed fulcrum as a pivot point and all fingers very loosely wrapped around the sticks, no pinky sticking out. There is more, much more, of course. But if you’re interested in the subject, I know an excellent drum teacher that can help you with all that.

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