Most drummers would agree it’s important to have a solid foundation in good drumming technique. But what is that foundation, and how do you get it?

Johnny2u2

Active Member
Bring forth the drum teachers😗😗😗😗!
The “solid foundation” of what kind of drumming? Make a difference?
Sure, you have to have a solid single stroke in both hands, coordinated, speedy too. Across the board.

Thunderdome! Bring forth the teachers!! :)
 

Johnny2u2

Active Member
And I should clarify something: My definition of “stroke” is the movement of the stick with the wrist and arm. Alternately, “grip” is the movement of the stick between the hand and the fingers. The implication here is that a single stroke can be performed without any grip motion at all!
Has anyone ever thought about this?

I discovered my snare hitting hand grip was incorrect
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I would say the foundation of technique on a drum, or any instrument, is the ability to produce a musical tone with single notes, in rhythm. That's job one. Beyond that, it would include the ability to handle standard musical materials, which means being able to read and play complex rhythms, accents, flams, multiple bounce roll, single stroke roll, double stroke roll-- those are the things the actual hand technique has to facilitate.

How you get it is you hire a skilled and knowledgeable drummer to guide you through the regular drumming literature, and play music yourself.
 

dcrigger

Senior Member
Since "foundation" was twice in the title, I was primed to think of basics, and then I read the OP which simply suggested "single stroke", which further convinced me that we would be discussing the fundamentals.

Your list is excellent, sensible and very straightforward, but to me #4 and #5 are what I think of as more advanced development. At least stuff I wouldn't I'd have a beginner think about yet. Rudiments early yes, but IMO that should be singles, doubles, flams.. then ruffs, drags and paradiddles, whereas working on independence and learning to read etudes, just seems beyond the basics.. I'm no pro teacher though, so I really do not know what I'm talking about! :oops:
Well of course #4 and #5 wouldn't be where things start - but I was thinking in terms of... "what does it take to move from beginner to the next phase?" - again, regardless of the path that next step is on. Personally I was well into working on #4 and #5 within my first year (not mastering, but certainly working on.

To maybe be more specific as an example of what I mean by that list... I think of the list I posted as having worked though Haskell Harr Bk 1 & 2, a bit of Stick Control - and on the drum set side, first working on some basic beats, some work toward creating fills, and getting well into something like the Chapin Book.

IMO nailing all of Harr 1&2 is an absolute - and getting versed on what it takes to progress through something like Chapin (not master the material, just "mastering" the process of increasing independence). I don't see any of that as particularly advanced - but rather the basic skills, that are very, very challenging, to acquire oneself. The things that are really easy to mess up without a teacher.

In any case, beginner/intermidiate/advanced are labels - which we all might have different definitions for. What I was thinking was the fundamental skills a beginner can best learn with a teacher before possibly striking off on their own. Also the raw basic skills that I see as being at the core of every style of playing. Of course, many styles can be played without those skills - but how well would then be the point of debate.
 

Ian S

Member
Well of course #4 and #5 wouldn't be where things start - but I was thinking in terms of... "what does it take to move from beginner to the next phase?" - again, regardless of the path that next step is on. Personally I was well into working on #4 and #5 within my first year (not mastering, but certainly working on.

To maybe be more specific as an example of what I mean by that list... I think of the list I posted as having worked though Haskell Harr Bk 1 & 2, a bit of Stick Control - and on the drum set side, first working on some basic beats, some work toward creating fills, and getting well into something like the Chapin Book.

IMO nailing all of Harr 1&2 is an absolute - and getting versed on what it takes to progress through something like Chapin (not master the material, just "mastering" the process of increasing independence). I don't see any of that as particularly advanced - but rather the basic skills, that are very, very challenging, to acquire oneself. The things that are really easy to mess up without a teacher.

In any case, beginner/intermidiate/advanced are labels - which we all might have different definitions for. What I was thinking was the fundamental skills a beginner can best learn with a teacher before possibly striking off on their own. Also the raw basic skills that I see as being at the core of every style of playing. Of course, many styles can be played without those skills - but how well would then be the point of debate.

You're absolutely right, I understand what you're saying. We each have our concepts about what's fundamental to proper development. Labels like beginner/intermediate/advanced are subjective, the lines between them are often blurry, and individual areas of developmental progress can stagger or accelerate along the way.

The more I think about it, your list sounds to me like a fantastic plan for any beginner who shows some promise and the drive to stay at it. I wish I would have been pushed in that direction when I was a beginner.
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
To me, there’s a foundation, and then there are foundational skills, which are very important to development but come later than the building of the initial foundation. Nothing gets built on the foundation till it’s solid. You can’t do anything else on drums if you can’t pull off single strokes in time. Getting around a set, limb independence, and using gravity and rebound are all quite important to grow as a drummer, but I call them foundational skills rather than the foundation itself.

Now the big question is “Does it matter what you call it?” You’re going to learn those things to some degree if you have any hope of doing something. So that would be a big no, unless you’re on the internet and someone wants to know what drummers consider the one thing that is the foundation of all they do. And then it becomes super important ;)
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
Well, hmm. I have to say I slightly disagree about a couple things there. IMO, the concept of "rebound" is an integral part of the single stroke itself. In fact I'd go as far as to say the best way to learn to control the stick is to learn to let go of it. You have to let go of it first, and then pick it back up, and then you've completed a single stroke.

To me the concept of rebound control has nothing to do with surfaces per se. It's everything to do with the hand muscles understanding the motions the stick has to make to complete a stroke and be prepared for whatever is to happen next.

Also, I disagree about time and the single stroke, not that the single stroke doesn't help with feeling space and repetition, it absolutely does, but I don't believe single stroke alone can create or fix a sense of time that is weak to begin with. And yes, I believe that time feel is absolutely "out there", some have natural sense of time and many many people do not, and for some of those people, no matter how many single strokes they do, they will never develop great sense of time. I think some context is key, either from a metronome or some steady music to play along with can help the time/tempo challenged to a degree, and with a lot of work even someone with poor time feel can improve drastically.
I agree that rebound and finger control are an integral and necessary part of drumming technique. But to me these are advanced concepts, and not related to the fundamental nature of how to hit a drum. Again, I am talking about the stroke here, how the arm and wrist move. So when I say single strokes are the foundation of drumming technique, I am not talking about lightning fast single strokes on the snare drum using rebound. I am speaking about the ability to create precise, identical, and consistent movements of the arm and wrist that generate exactly the same motion time after time. This is the starting point. Everything we do afterwards this must be derived from this synchronized motion.

Follow me on this for a minute; the thing with rebound is you are really only using half of a stroke to create a note. That is, you move the stick towards the drum with your hand, but then you open your hand to let it bounce. Now think about playing slow single strokes on a surface that doesn't rebound--take a marimba for example. You are moving the mallet toward the bar, and then you are lifting the mallet back up in a consistent fashion to hit it again and again. This is a full stroke. There is a return movement. This is the drummers "swing" or follow-through. Its an up and down movement, an ongoing cycle. It allows you to feel what is happening because your body is connected to the stick or mallet the whole time. To draw an analogy, in most sports there is always a follow-through. Think of a golf swing or a baseball swing. Now imagine if a baseball player opened his hands to let the bat move every time he struck a ball. He would never make solid contact with the ball, and never really get a good feel for the swing. This is what I am saying about rebound. You can't get a feel for the fundamental single stroke if you are letting go of the stick. The absence of the return movement can cause the feeling of the single stroke to be dissipated to the point where it is barely noticeable -- since only the first half of the motion is being used.
 

Ian S

Member
I agree that rebound and finger control are an integral and necessary part of drumming technique. But to me these are advanced concepts, and not related to the fundamental nature of how to hit a drum. Again, I am talking about the stroke here, how the arm and wrist move. So when I say single strokes are the foundation of drumming technique, I am not talking about lightning fast single strokes on the snare drum using rebound. I am speaking about the ability to create precise, identical, and consistent movements of the arm and wrist that generate exactly the same motion time after time. This is the starting point. Everything we do afterwards this must be derived from this synchronized motion.

Follow me on this for a minute; the thing with rebound is you are really only using half of a stroke to create a note. That is, you move the stick towards the drum with your hand, but then you open your hand to let it bounce. Now think about playing slow single strokes on a surface that doesn't rebound--take a marimba for example. You are moving the mallet toward the bar, and then you are lifting the mallet back up in a consistent fashion to hit it again and again. This is a full stroke. There is a return movement. This is the drummers "swing" or follow-through. Its an up and down movement, an ongoing cycle. It allows you to feel what is happening because your body is connected to the stick or mallet the whole time. To draw an analogy, in most sports there is always a follow-through. Think of a golf swing or a baseball swing. Now imagine if a baseball player opened his hands to let the bat move every time he struck a ball. He would never make solid contact with the ball, and never really get a good feel for the swing. This is what I am saying about rebound. You can't get a feel for the fundamental single stroke if you are letting go of the stick. The absence of the return movement can cause the feeling of the single stroke to be dissipated to the point where it is barely noticeable -- since only the first half of the motion is being used.


I think we went around the semantics bush. I think the confusion is around the fact that there is a stroke called the "rebound stroke", aka the bounce stroke.

But I've never thought the term "rebound control" in drumming, was intended to mean controlling only "bounce strokes". I always assumed it to be precise in meaning, which is controlling the stick after any stroke. Using precise language and meaning, rebound control is control of an object after it hits something.

Regarding the physics of swinging and striking a target - if something is struck then there will be some amount of rebound. This is true no matter whether you swing with follow-through, or by letting go, or by lightly tapping.

At low speeds and quiet volume, there is only a small amount of rebound control involved in the single stroke, but as speed increases, rebound control comes more and more into play, no matter what type of stroke is used.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
As far as a sense of time/tempo, if you can play exactly even single strokes in time, the space between the notes are exactly in time, and the actual physical act of striking a drum allows you to create perfect time.

I don't know how that would work. I can see doing it at an easy tempo and an easy volume, where it's easy to keep the stick in motion the whole time, but as soon as change the rate of notes or volume to something not-comfortable, the whole thing falls apart-- it's why people have bad time, in fact, because they're going off of a body motion, rather than knowing where the time is, and making the sticks follow that. Maybe I'm not understanding the concept correctly.
 

Huw Owens

Active Member
I remember a MD interview with Max Roach from the early '80s. He talked about his feeling that the foundation for learning to play drum kit should be learning to play quarters, then eights etc, with all four limbs striking at the same time. Bass drum, hats, LH on snare, RH on ride. Listening to the sound, making sure the balance between each instrument was good, no flams, even tempo...

Then build from there.

I thought it was an interesting take.

:)
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Very few have perfect technique from the get go and that is fine because it's a process.

Not only is it a process, but more of a concept because both our bodies and musical needs are different.

You play something, you learn how o work the stick the best way for you to achieve what you want. Chances are this will evolve over time and there are many ways to hold a stick.

Pretty much any teacher here in Norway that I've taken lessons from who grew up in a certain era of school band playing give me crap about my technique. At the same time, the big names that I eventually got lessons from think it's fine. Just goes to show you the dogma and lack of insight into things. You will probably not get the whole truth from the first person you go to., At the same time, if you're really new, there are plenty of things to thin about that may distract you from propper technique, whatever that is.

Though it may not sound like it from what I've written so far I am actually very much into developing and refining technique, but there will never be a complete and simple answer I can put into words here.

As a teacher I try to be aware and know how to do things even if I don't really use them myself so I have a wider palette to work from. What you do, what you work on, adjustments and refinement is based on a concept, but it is a flowing thing.

Many things are just options.

Is the choice of technique valid for what you want to be able to do? Then what do you do to build and refine that technique?

Again, it depends.

As for full control on the kit I think it's a good idea to turn off everything you play along to so you hear yourself clearly and have full responsibility of how it feels and sounds.

If things aren't working like you'd like together it \'s good to work on each individual thing and then put it together piece by piece. If you can't stil make things feel good if you remove a limb it may be a nice excuse, but here is a piece missing.

A lot of the time the answer is simply that you haven't been working enough on that specific thing. If that's the case it's often simply because we have our default things we do rather than go to the core of the issue and work on it.

Things should feel and sound good and that should be the functional standard we strive for so simplify if you must or slow down if you can. Usually the former with other musicians and the latter by yourself.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry" - Administrator
Staff member
Interesting discussion. Lots of different answers from lots of different people. Which is what I expected. It tells me that different people prioritize different things. Which is natural. It's open for personal interpretation. I like that it's still The Wild West as far as how you want to play. Great instrument.

Really there's so much to work on. Hearing. Reading. Tempo and meter. Technique and touch. Dynamic control. Getting a decent sound from the drums. Rudiments. Which grip?

It's good to see @Alex Luce again. He's got (IMO) a unique technique that he developed and wrote a book about called "How To Beat a Drum"
 

doggyd69b

Silver Member
I think it's the single stroke...what do you think?
Most are going to tell you rudiments. I never needed them and can play just fine. I do know some but never really used them in a composition or when playing someone's music. Music theory will be a close second which is definitely more useful. IMO having good listening skills (for music) and developing the ability to implement multiple ideas into your playing can make more of a difference than studying for years. I know from experience having played with people with music degrees. They were always too....soul less if that makes sense. Not saying that everyone with a music degree is like that but that has been my experience.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
The term "foundation" implies we're setting up a point from which to expand. In the most basic sense and the way I think of it, this applies mostly what we would call "technique"; without these foundational techniques to apply our ideas and ability with executions would be lacking. For some players this might be a heavy focus on their stroke, or endurance for certain types of playing. Even with a house, it helps a lot to know where you want to go before you plan out and pour the foundation, and as such, each drummers or homebuilders foundation would be different. There's no wrong answer and in our case there's not really a limit to what we can take on as the foundation techniques. Once we get comfortable with one foundation part we can then stand on that to build even further.

A few examples of good foundational things for drummers:
-Body position, ergonomics, kit setup, equipment optimizations
-correct stick grip, application of different stroke types (e.g. whip, from the arm, from the wrist, elbow, pressing, etc)
-dynamics and volume control - this one is super important and often ignored... Can be considered part of stroke technique
-knowledge-base of music and inspiration is super foundational to actually playing music. We aren't islands. Musical diversity is a strong help.
-Our individual creativity is part of our music foundation and we can always expand our minds and ways we think about music.

Those are some examples of what I consider to be part of my foundation utilized in making music; I'm proud of it and more so than anything else I think these things are what allow me to approach music and it's concepts with confidence. If you feel deficient in these areas and think some study might assist, get to it!
 

Sausagetoad

Active Member
I think it's the single stroke...what do you think?
I think it's the paradiddle, which is the basis for most funk beats, and also the ability to use permutations of the paradiddle to make the accents and patterns that you want. Even in swing, the paradiddle permutations played as triplets are the foundation.
 
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