What should I focus on in order to become more fluid (and less stiff) in the hands/wrists/arms?

ba dum tish

Member
One thing that really sticks out to me about certain drummers beyond just how they sound, is how fluid they look when they play. Chad Smith is a great example of this. Look how fluid his right hand/stick is when he's keeping time on the hi-hat in this video. I want to look like that! But not just for the look, but mainly because it just seems like the more fluid you play, the more efficient it is.

So I'm wondering, what is it about Chad Smith that he's doing that makes his fluidity in his hands stick out? Is it just that he uses a lot of wrist? Is it loosening up the grip and more following the stick as it bounces instead of directing it where to go? Does anyone has any ideas as to any exercises to practice that would eventually lead to more of a loose technique like this? I'm thinking it's mostly just really getting those wrists working (or maybe it's more utilizing the fingers?), but I'd like to hear your thoughts.
 

Extremedrumz

Junior Member
For me personally its a lot to do with knowing your song/pattern fluently to start! Once you can play it over and over again without thinking about it and the song/pattern just comes 2nd nature to you mind and muscle memory, you will notice your sticking and body motions have more rhythm, almost like your dancing so to speak. I would recommend maybe video recording yourself and as you play you will notice some takes you are loosened up more! Im no Chad Smith, hes a great drummer indeed! Good luck I hoped I was slightly helpful!
 

DrummerPady

Junior Member
well i think it's on one hand it's his technique. his muscles are very comfortable with each beat he makes.
on the other hand it's his playing, he obviously doesn't have to think anymore about what he has to play or which hand comes after the other. it's like walking on a stair as a kid it wasn't always easy to climb stairs or as Extremedrumz said like dancing.

me too, i would strongly recommend practising with a video camera or a mirror.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Without someone showing you how to do this... It's difficult for any exercise to make it happen, as you'll most likely be practicing in the wrong way.

Point is, for me, I didn't start to develop that fluid look until I started taking some lessons with a good teacher. They watched my hands as I played and told me where I was going wrong and wasting effort. "No, loosen your fingers, keep your back fingers here to control..." and on and on.

I bet others will chime in and agree/disagree. In today's world, you might be able to learn about some of this on youtube or what have you, but youtube cannot tell you what you are doing incorrectly or correct you in "real time".

Don't forget, there's no harm in being up front with a teacher... You can actually tell them your goal is to play more efficiently, and work on that ignoring other aspects until you are happy with your technique. A lot of teachers force this method by starting students on pads, away from the kit.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I was just at a clinic/master class with Garey Williams yesterday. The point he was making over and over was that you really have to relax as you play. A lot of us (myself included) stiffen and tense as we come to certain points in the song, such as accents, fills, or such. What he preaches (and he admits he copped this from Tommy Igoe) is to let the weight of the stick and the rebound of the stick do the work for you. Freddie Gruber said it best: there's a dance in the air above the drums, and that's where you should draw your energy from. Play on top of the drums and cymbals, not through them; relax your death grip on the sticks and let it flow. Practice this, video yourself if need be. Best drumming advice I've gotten in years and years.
 

Brian

Gold Member
I would focus on always practicing and thinking loose. Hand/wrist strength and dexterity is also important, as the more control you have the more you can control the range of looseness or firmness you're playing with.
 

PeteN

Silver Member
For me personally its a lot to do with knowing your song/pattern fluently to start! Once you can play it over and over again without thinking about it and the song/pattern just comes 2nd nature to you mind and muscle memory, you will notice your sticking and body motions have more rhythm, almost like your dancing so to speak. I would recommend maybe video recording yourself and as you play you will notice some takes you are loosened up more! Im no Chad Smith, hes a great drummer indeed! Good luck I hoped I was slightly helpful!
All good answers from everyone but I think you hit the nail on the head with your suggestions.
 

drstrangefunk

Senior Member
i think it's his height / and-or just the way he's built.

Chad is like 6 foot 12 or something which would lead to a gentler stroke. imagine if he put his all into it...he'd probably slice through the hats like a hot knife through butter....like a light sabre through....well anything really.

compare Sheila E, who is very tiny (although she looks much taller in pictures). i admire her stroke just as much as you admire Chad's. especially when she's on timbales...and i wondered the same thing....why does her stroke look so....right, for lack of a better word. i determined that because of her small stature she throws everything she has into her stroke, making it seem like one perfect movement.

so...i'm saying that while Chad at 6'5" or so just flicks his wrist gently to get his stroke, Sheila E must throw her whole arm and body at it...thus via totally different circumstances, they both have strokes that seem....perfect.
 

Brian

Gold Member
One last thing I'd mention, Chad Smith is playing with a grip that is more towards the butt end of the sticks, at least it would appear. A little different being more of a wrist/forearm approach.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You have to be able to work a drumstick easily before you can tackle fluidity. If you can work a drumstick easily, then I guess fluidity happens in the mind first. My guess is that you are still struggling with the stick somewhat.
 

EvilDrummer

Senior Member
You have to learn the free stroke. Try this: Play free strokes starting and ending at above 90 degrees, double strokes RRLL then RLLR, then LLRR, then LRRL (but repeat each 4 or 8 times). Do this at 100-120 BPM as eight notes but make sure you know how to play proper free strokes. Do it for 10-20 minutes and then try to play double strokes.

You will feel what I'm talking about. The sticks just fly by them selves ;)

When you master the free strokes your hands will automatically be loose. There are also a few things that only a teacher can tell you like the amount of wrist vs fingers and so on but if you practice the free stroke you are half way there :)
 

drstrangefunk

Senior Member
You have to be able to work a drumstick easily before you can tackle fluidity. If you can work a drumstick easily, then I guess fluidity happens in the mind first. My guess is that you are still struggling with the stick somewhat.
so true. drum stool height and kit positioning are important too.
 

CreeplyTuna

Silver Member
Tense muscles surely won't help, I'll tell you that. I try and keep my legs relaxed when practicing double bass, but I a lot of it comes from practice.
 

Tiger

Junior Member
I'm trying to strike a balance too. I tend to err towards being too flimsy with my grip in an attempt to be looser, and I end up losing control of my sticks and drop them. Flung one at my face once, lol.
 
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