Practical Guide to 18th Century Drumming
by Ron Aylor
Click on the Drum Tacks to return to Contents.
One of the most important factors in the development of a drummer is the correct grip on the sticks. The secret to success is a completely relaxed, yet controlled command of the sticks. A cramped, unnatural grip will serve no purpose but to hinder development.
The left stick is held between the crotch of the thumb and the first finger. The stick then rests between the first and second joint of the third finger. The first and second fingers curl naturally over the stick. Do not bend the wrist. Keep the back of the hand in line with the arm and at a slight angle with the ground. Pressure should only be exerted between the thumb and base of the first finger. The stick is controlled by a combination of thumb and first finger pressure. The hand, fingers, and wrist are always relaxed. The fingers are curled naturally. Never stiff.
The right stick is held between the pad of the thumb and the joint of first finger closest to the fingernail. The remaining fingers curl naturally under with their pads lightly touching the stick. Notice the gap between the crotch of the thumb and the base of the index finger. Keep this open, do not allow the thumb and the base of the index finger to touch. Do not bend the wrist; keep the back of the hand in line with the arm and parallel with the ground.
The drumsticks themselves play an important part when it comes to the "sound" coming from the drum. When we strike the drum there should be no difference in the sound whether it be from the right hand or the left hand. To help facilitate this we should be conscious of the length of the striking ends of the sticks. As mentioned above each stick has distinct pressure points. The left stick is held between the crotch of the thumb and the base of the index finger. The right stick is held between the pad of the thumb and the first joint of the index finger. Notice in the illustration above that the distance from the pressure point to the butt end of the stick is equal in each hand. This technique of holding the sticks, along with maintaining equal pressure will assure an equal "sound" from either hand.
Not only should we maintain an equal "grasp" of the sticks, we should make a conscious effort to strike the drum in approximately the same spot each time.
Above is an illustration of the "sweet spot." With your drum in front of you, this "spot" is just to the right of center and slightly towards the front of the drum. This area should be approximately the diameter of a Silver Dollar. Make an effort to land each stroke of the drum in this spot. Remember you should hear no difference between a left and a right stroke.
©copyright 2001 Ron Aylor