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  #41  
Old 04-11-2009, 10:37 PM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

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Originally Posted by Alex Luce View Post
Larry: I am glad to hear that you don't restrict your arm movement when you play. However, I do believe we should practice how we play, and I guess that is why I am having this discussion with you.

First off, if you are happy with your technique, and it gets done what you want on the gig, then fine. Don't fix what ain't broke. However, the point I have been trying to make is that drumming is a motion-based, not a strength-based instrument. (See picture of skinny drummer attached.) If it really were about muscular development, there would be all sorts of weightlifting routines we could do to become better drummers.

The whole point about Moeller is to use a big motion to expend LESS energy, and to reap the rewards (volume & rebound) when this big stroke hits the drums. It is interesting to me that you are willing to put in the work to do this strenuous, tension-filled exercise, even to the point of saying "No pain no gain", but you don't want to lift your upper arms up when playing!

From what you've wrote, it seems you are trying to compensate for the lack of motion in your playing by substituting it with muscular power. Again, if this works for you, fine. But there is an easier way.

Regards,

Alex
I'd like to address a few points. I'm enjoying this debate, thanks for taking the interest Alex

I agree that you should practice how you play, however, this isn't practice, it's hand development only

Drumming is a motion based, not strength based instrument.
That sounds like an statement condoning the Adler System. The Adler system is practically the definition of economy of motion.

If it really were about muscular development, there would be all sorts of weightlifting routines we could do to become better drummers....

That's exactly what the video demonstrates. The sticks are just the right weight to develop the finger muscles


The whole point about Moeller is to use a big motion to expend LESS energy...


Doesn't this run counter to basic physics?

...but you don't want to lift your upper arms up when playing!

Not if I don't have to. Economy of motion. I use my upper arms only to extend my reach to the floors and crashes etc.

If I have to play really really really loud, I automatically use the elbow, but for 95% of my playing, the hands have more than enough volume for what I need.


From what you've wrote, it seems you are trying to compensate for the lack of motion in your playing by substituting it with muscular power


Not at all, I'm just sharing what I was taught. I'm thrilled with my lack of motion!

It makes sense to me.

If I could make an analogy here using the SUV vs motorcycle, I feel as if you are trying to convince me that driving 10 miles in an SUV will be cheaper than using a motorcycle. They both get you there, except you use more energy with the SUV. Yes you have more power and can run over things, but if you don't need all that, in my mind it doesn't justify the expenditure of energy.

That's why I (respectfully) can't agree with what you are saying here. I guess to crystallize it...I would bet that if we both played the same song and delivered the same net amount of force to the drum heads, I will have used a fraction of the calories in doing so.

Keep it coming!
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  #42  
Old 04-12-2009, 12:01 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

If it really were about muscular development, there would be all sorts of weightlifting routines we could do to become better drummers.

Well indeed it is about muscular development. But it's not about about bulk. Try doing light reps and many of them, you get stronger but not bulked up. Lift heavy weights with a few reps and you get stronger and bulky. There are many ways to develop muscle. Being ripped or all bulked up is not the only sign. Drummers need speed and endurance and this is what you get when you do many reps with little weights. As to the comment about isometric methods of stretching and relaxing that is dead on. And the comment about practicing is not playing. Again dead on. Baseball pitchers do leg weights to strengthen because of the pushing off of the mound. Doesn't hurt the pitching motion at all. Drummers can use body core strengthening exercises to build endurance from sitting and moving on a throne for a gig all night. you don't need a 6 pack of abs to do this but some endurance will help. Please don't confuse all muscle building with bulk. there are so many other ways to build muscle. Reading DrumHead magazine there is a section on proper exercise almost monthly and it's not just about fingers and forearms.
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  #43  
Old 04-12-2009, 02:25 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

But, GD - aren't we talking about fast-twitch muscles vs. slow-twitch...large muscle groups vs. small muscle groups.

High-repetition, repetitive motion is what is most proper to develop the smaller muscle groups in the forearms and hands...just as with the calves and the feet.

You won't see many track stars doing slow, heavy lifting just as bodybuilders favor the 100 yd. dash over miles of jogging.
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  #44  
Old 04-12-2009, 02:51 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

Yeah. I was a little long winded just to say that we still develop muscles all the same. If you don't develop the fast twitch they will cramp. Out buddy Matt had to develop his muscles controlling his WFD skills. It didn't just come to him. And the following is a training regimen for sprinters. Notice the weight training.

I also did a Google on "weight lifting for sprinters" and "weight lifting for drummers" You would be surprised at all that came up.
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  #45  
Old 04-12-2009, 05:06 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
That's why I (respectfully) can't agree with what you are saying here. I guess to crystallize it...I would bet that if we both played the same song and delivered the same net amount of force to the drum heads, I will have used a fraction of the calories in doing so.

Keep it coming!
Wow, it's amazing to have a conversation with someone who doesn't perceive a difference of opinion as a personal attack! Ha ha...

Well I agree with your above statement, I just believe it is the other way around! :>) I would use less energy than you.

The physical motion I use to play the drums is based on the principle that each part of the arm naturally functions as a lever. (See diagram below.) I actually call the hand lever the hand/stick lever, because when a stick is held in the hand it becomes an extension of it. Now anybody can hit the drums using the arm as a lever, because this is the way it functions. However, the physical motion I employ uses the arm as a system of levers. When the arm is used as a system of levers to create a unified motion, you can produce a precise drum stroke that delivers exceptional force. The Moeller technique also uses the arm as a lever system, but there is the additional motion of the "whip".

Since you asked about the physics of it, here goes: There is a physics concept called the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum. It is based on Newton’s First Law—that an object in motion stays in motion. The implication of the momentum law is that a decrease in resistance in the transfer of momentum from larger to smaller body segments actually increases the velocity of the motion. Meaning drummers not only benefit from the multiple leverage created by using the arm as a lever system, but if you start the motion of the stroke from the larger upper arm lever, by the time momentum has reached the smaller hand/stick lever velocity will have been greatly increased. Of course, velocity = power.

Since you like analogies, think of a pro ballplayer swinging a bat. They also use their bodies as lever systems. Here is a quote from a Kinesiology book I have:

"In hitting a baseball, for instance, the trunk forms one lever, the upper arms another, the forearms another, and the hands and bat still another. This use of multiple leverage is to build up speed at the tip of the bat, because the greater the speed, the greater the force that can be imparted to the ball.”

This means as drummers we can also use the arm as a system of levers to build up speed in a drumstick, thereby creating a powerful drumming motion.

Check out this video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qfkRZcyXzs This was me playing at the Whisky a go-go a number of years ago. Because this is a large club, I am able to hit the drums hard without blowing out the room. Do I look like I'm am exerting a lot of effort? I could have played louder if I wanted to, but the monitor mix was so good I was just focusing on trying to create a smooth sound.

Regards,

Alex
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  #46  
Old 04-12-2009, 06:25 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

Great debate so far fellas. It's great to see something that doesn't devolve into mindless rants and name calling with as little as what Alex mentioned as a small difference of opinion. Interesting stuff here.

I would just add one more thing here. I guess the large part of this seemingly controversial topic is about the isometric stretching of the muscles. I used to do a lot of exercise and isometric stretching was a huge part of it and was one of the greatest ways of really lengthening, strengthening and relaxing the muscles to get ready for exercise.

Now obviously things like weight lifting and doing this sort of thing is absurd for hand development but I do believe that this isometric hand technique could be quite useful if done in conjunction with your normal routine. I myself have not done it with drumming and I have and always will back the natural motion, relaxation method and using economy of motion whilst getting the most out of it ie. Moeller-like playing. Nonetheless, when I'm actually playing I don't even think about my technique and I just hope that what I have instilled during the many hours of practice kind of helps with things, but I'm not early as big on technique as many on this board. I have certainly practiced a hell of a lot of it, and still focus on getting things right and developing my hands and feet now but it is much more about just getting my phrasing ideas out without any trouble these days instead of trying to get as fast as possible for that reason only. All great of course and I'm hugely glad I did that kind of practice when younger.

Saying all that though, I still think that this method could be quite useful. I think it is always good for us to try different things and ways of practice and to never judge something as wrong until you yourself have actually tried it. Isometric stretching has long been a great tool for stretching and relaxing the muscles, and the good thing about it is that it does it very quickly and very thoroughly. If your normal methods don't seem to be going as good as you want it to, try this for a while and just see if it works. If it doesn't then stop and try something else. If it works then great!

That is the one thing I would like to emphasize here. This really does help to relax and stretch out your muscles. I would actually suggest this be done before moving into your normal routine, all of which should be done with complete relaxation. That is generally how it is used and the best way of doing it.

Still, all of Alex's input is brilliant also and it is basically about choice. If you're not happy with one, then try the other.
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  #47  
Old 04-12-2009, 09:45 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

Alex,

Great video, you do have excellent technique (not to mention beautiful feel and great tempo/meter)

Plus you're way better looking than me ha ha

I can see your lever stroke for sure, and it is as fluid as a snake swimming through the water.

If I didn't spend 1000's of hours on the Adler method, I'd go for yours in a heartbeat.

But I'll still take you up on the bet. I'll put a video up early next week and we'll compare notes. When I play backbeat, I rest my wrist on my thigh and just open my hand up, thats gotta use less calories than activating the shoulder muscles.

Not that it means anything, really, you play beautifully, and it looks cool too. I wouldn't say your technique has any unnecessary movement, I'm probably more boring looking because if I'm playing snare with my left hand, it just kinda lays on my thigh for the most part. What I want to know is....how do you handle a fast single stroke roll? Do you use the shoulder and elbow for that?
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  #48  
Old 04-12-2009, 08:50 PM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

We're not talking about two *opposing* ideas here, are we?. Using only wrists, only fingers, or your entire arm from the shoulder-down such as Alex demonstrates are not mutually exclusive techniques, right?

I'm thinking of the Jojo Mayer and Steve Smith videos I've spent countless hours watching and studying their movements, grip, etc. and then trying to mimic myself.

Jojo explains the need to use more of a Moeller-esque motion for bigger sounds and power whereas for speed and subtlety, he'll move down to mostly wrist and/or finger motions...minimizing the amount of effort.

Alex, as you explain it - this concept would create tension, am I correct?

I know that when I've worked on isolating finger motions w/ the sticks, I have felt tension in the muscles and connective tissue in the upper-forearm, near the elbow. I am always very careful to make sure I'm entirely relaxed and *not* gripping the sticks tightly.

I took that as a cue that those particular muscle fibers and tendons aren't as developed as the rest of my arm.
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  #49  
Old 04-13-2009, 05:08 PM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

I think Alex's technique is beautiful, I see how it can generate a lot of power, and his physics make total sense. For power playing, I can see no downside. It's the fine control that I'm not convinced about. There is no example of his ability to play a fast, lengthy, single stroke roll on his video, this is what I'm interested in seeing.

In my mind, it's relatively easy to play loud using your arms. I don't think it takes very long to grasp (not master) the technique of using your arm to produce a whipping motion to make a loud stroke. For me, it's much harder to execute playing at a really really low volume, and be able to burn playing soft, fast and accurate. I can't justify using the entire arm to play softly, and this is where I think the fingers should take over. As soon as you reach a certain point where you need more volume than is available in the hands, then you automatically start doing a technique similar to Alex's. I couldn't tell you the last time I needed that much volume.

I just had a gig Saturday night, it was a very loud, unforgiving, echo-y room with nothing but hard surfaces, and I was only using maybe 20% of my available (hand only) volume. I was definitely holding back in a major way so the stage volume didn't get out of hand. I couldn't imagine myself needing all the power available in my arms for this situation. Alex's technique is beautiful, but I still need to see how he handles fast, really low volume playing. That's where the Adler method excels, because you can play extremely softly as easily as you can play loudly. Alex, a rebuttal please?
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  #50  
Old 04-13-2009, 05:15 PM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

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Originally Posted by zambizzi View Post

I know that when I've worked on isolating finger motions w/ the sticks, I have felt tension in the muscles and connective tissue in the upper-forearm, near the elbow. I am always very careful to make sure I'm entirely relaxed and *not* gripping the sticks tightly.

I took that as a cue that those particular muscle fibers and tendons aren't as developed as the rest of my arm.
You were working those muscles by isolating them. I wouldn't describe that as "bad" tension. Bad tension is when you don't play relaxed, this isn't playing, it's muscle/tendon development. You were exercising very fine control muscles, and you can definitely "feel" that. That is the basis of the Adler method. Those muscles give me all the volume I need, because I've been working them for quite awhile now.
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  #51  
Old 04-13-2009, 11:52 PM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

Thanks. I am going to give it a try. You can never have too much endurance.
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  #52  
Old 04-14-2009, 03:53 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

My goodness! I just got done watching the video (and reading the debate) and I must say, with all the "boom boom" "sucking" "pumping" and whatever is going on around the 2:45 mark, I wasn't sure if I was watching a drum video or not!

*drinks some water*

A very hot & heavy video Larry! Whew!
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  #53  
Old 04-14-2009, 05:12 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

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My goodness! I just got done watching the video (and reading the debate) and I must say, with all the "boom boom" "sucking" "pumping" and whatever is going on around the 2:45 mark, I wasn't sure if I was watching a drum video or not!

*drinks some water*

A very hot & heavy video Larry! Whew!
That's too funny I didn't realize how nasty that could be taken. That would make for good party conversation, especially when explaining it to the women ha ha
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  #54  
Old 04-14-2009, 05:41 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

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Originally Posted by zambizzi View Post
We're not talking about two *opposing* ideas here, are we?. Using only wrists, only fingers, or your entire arm from the shoulder-down such as Alex demonstrates are not mutually exclusive techniques, right?...

Jojo explains the need to use more of a Moeller-esque motion for bigger sounds and power whereas for speed and subtlety, he'll move down to mostly wrist and/or finger motions...minimizing the amount of effort.

Alex, as you explain it - this concept would create tension, am I correct?
Hey Z: Thanks for your kind words on the thread. I hope everything is going well. And no, Jojo's method does not create tension, I do the same thing, for speed and subtlety I'll start the movement with my fingers, and let the motion generated flow through the lever system and into my upper arm.

One thing Jojo talks about is the arm having different "gears", and using the big parts of the arm for bigger sounds and power and the smaller parts for speed and subtlety. (Just like you said above.) I don't quite agree with this, because it's not like I can switch out my forearm for a smaller one if I want to go faster! The arm is a closed system (you can't really switch gears), and when using the arm as a system of levers (which Jojo and all the great players do) moving one part of the hand or arm moves the entire thing. Theoretically you could start the movement at any part of the arm, but I think normally you would start it at one end or the other. So you can't switch gears, but you can start the big strokes from the shoulder and the small strokes from the fingers. Where you primarily start your strokes may depend on what kind of music you play, or volume level you play at.

You can see an example of this if you have Jojo's Secret Weapons video. Check out Disc 1, Chapter 5 at around 21:35 to 22:37. You will see his wrist, forearm and upper arm moving as he uses his fingers to play single strokes. It is a subtle movement, but it is there. In this part of the video, Jojo says "No movement of the wrist". Why he says this is beyond me! The movement is clearly there, and if it wasn't, tension and stiffness would be the result.

Regards,

Alex
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  #55  
Old 04-14-2009, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
I think Alex's technique is beautiful, I see how it can generate a lot of power, and his physics make total sense. For power playing, I can see no downside. It's the fine control that I'm not convinced about. There is no example of his ability to play a fast, lengthy, single stroke roll on his video, this is what I'm interested in seeing.

In my mind, it's relatively easy to play loud using your arms. I don't think it takes very long to grasp (not master) the technique of using your arm to produce a whipping motion to make a loud stroke. For me, it's much harder to execute playing at a really really low volume, and be able to burn playing soft, fast and accurate. I can't justify using the entire arm to play softly, and this is where I think the fingers should take over. As soon as you reach a certain point where you need more volume than is available in the hands, then you automatically start doing a technique similar to Alex's. I couldn't tell you the last time I needed that much volume.

I just had a gig Saturday night, it was a very loud, unforgiving, echo-y room with nothing but hard surfaces, and I was only using maybe 20% of my available (hand only) volume. I was definitely holding back in a major way so the stage volume didn't get out of hand. I couldn't imagine myself needing all the power available in my arms for this situation. Alex's technique is beautiful, but I still need to see how he handles fast, really low volume playing. That's where the Adler method excels, because you can play extremely softly as easily as you can play loudly. Alex, a rebuttal please?
Larry: Thanks a lot for your wonderful compliments. You are a truly open-minded person, which is a rarity for old dudes like us! (I am 45.)

First off, believe me, I am into this economy of motion thing as much as you are. I am still playing a lot of 4-set gigs, and I can't blow myself out on the first set, or I'll never get through the night! Second of all, I can tell from your sincerity that your exercise works, but obviously, it is just a whole different space that I am coming from.

As far as playing with the arms, and I mean using this motion I call the lever stroke to skillfully and precisely create a consistent sound on the kit, a lot of drummers can't do that. And it is interesting that for the players who can do it, many of them do the low volume stuff well also. The Moeller whip is what really brings out the power of the lever stroke, but it is exclusively used for larger motions involving the “whip”, or at a minimum, accented notes. The motion of the lever stroke is used for every note a drummer plays, no matter how soft or loud it is played, or what type of grip is used. It is utilized even when the smallest strokes are played using "only the fingers”. I believe it is the most natural and efficient way possible to hit a drum.

It's funny you mentioned the single stroke roll, because I have been working on it lately and am pretty happy with it. I have been practicing it the rudimental way, start out slow, go fast as possible, and then slow down again. One of my goals is to record some more videos this summer, so I will record the roll at some point and let you know. But I am no speed demon, my main concern is laying down grooves...so that is what I practice most of the time.

Here is a video I did of me playing singles a while back, not a roll, but I was just trying to show how the motion flows back into my arm. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op6cBFyCxb0

One thing I noticed after doing this is I was using German grip in my right arm and American grip in my left. (It is great when you can educate yourself...ha ha!) Now I use American grip in both hands when doing the roll, it just seems to flow better.

Regards,

Alex
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  #56  
Old 04-14-2009, 08:20 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

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If i may... I am not a proponent of the Adler system but this above quote is most definitely running way to far with the opposite approach.

Strength is most definitely a part of drumming. Meaningful musical motion, without strength, is useless. Using the analogy of lifting weights is absurd. It's not about THAT kind of strength. There are all kinds of strength, not just bulk musculature.

Hand development, as in strengthening the muscles used in drumming, is crucial to being able to play no matter what technique you use. Even if you exclusively used a bounce or rebound stroke and EVERY stroke you played, you would still need strong fingers, under your control, to bring the stick BACK to the drum! A weak hand couldn't begin to control a drumstick in any way.

Strength is not a dirty word in drumming. Like anything, strength, if taken too far, can be detrimental. But you NEED what I like to call "healthy strength" to play an instrument. ANY instrument. Skinny drummers? Come on. Think about this: great players— Gadd, Weckl, Buddy, Simon, to name a few— all LITTLE guys! But think they aren't strong where it counts? You think their hands aren't developed? Those drumming specific muscles and tendons? Please.

Study piano seriously from a serious teacher, as I have, they will insist you strengthen the muscles needed to play. Same goes for ANY instrument! They will use the words Muscles and Strength unapologetically, without the conversation devolving into the ridiculous like weightlifting.

We should do the same.
Maybe I didn't make myself clear, of course a certain level of strength is necessary to play the drums. Here is a quote from another kineisology book I have:

“In the human body, bones are levers, muscles create the forces that move these levers, and the axis of motion is located at the joint.”

So there is no motion without muscular force. But once the levers of the arm are set in motion, we can allow them to do most of the work. One definition of a lever is "a simple machine that makes work easier". That is pretty much what I am talking about.

Regards,

Alex
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Old 04-14-2009, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
If it really were about muscular development, there would be all sorts of weightlifting routines we could do to become better drummers.

Well indeed it is about muscular development. But it's not about about bulk. Try doing light reps and many of them, you get stronger but not bulked up. Lift heavy weights with a few reps and you get stronger and bulky. There are many ways to develop muscle. Being ripped or all bulked up is not the only sign. Drummers need speed and endurance and this is what you get when you do many reps with little weights. As to the comment about isometric methods of stretching and relaxing that is dead on. And the comment about practicing is not playing. Again dead on. Baseball pitchers do leg weights to strengthen because of the pushing off of the mound. Doesn't hurt the pitching motion at all. Drummers can use body core strengthening exercises to build endurance from sitting and moving on a throne for a gig all night. you don't need a 6 pack of abs to do this but some endurance will help. Please don't confuse all muscle building with bulk. there are so many other ways to build muscle. Reading DrumHead magazine there is a section on proper exercise almost monthly and it's not just about fingers and forearms.
GD: I love comparing drumming to athletics, because there are a lot of similarties. But still, I wouldn't consider playing the drums an athletic endeavor. There are lots of virtuoso drummers from the past who treated their bodies horribly, but were able to achieve amazing things on the drums.

By the way, one of the reasons baseball players do leg weights because the legs are part of their pitching motion. At the risk of running this point into the ground, again, they use their entire body as a lever system to build up speed in the ball. Check out the research done at the American Sports Medicine Institute.

I try to workout regulary, but more for general strength than for drumming. I am most concerned with being able to get my damned trap case into the car!

Regards,

Alex
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  #58  
Old 04-14-2009, 04:31 PM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

Alex

I saw the single stroke video and it looks identical to the way I do them, opening the hands and using the fingers on the back of the stick behind the fulcrum to initiate the motion. I am starting to understand the concept of your lever stroke, instead of starting with the shoulder, in the case of the single stroke, you start it with your fingers, and I can see the wave of momentum start with your fingers and travel through the wrist and to the forearm, even the upper arm is wiggling ever so slightly. I was wondering about how you would execute the single stroke with your system. I suppose the only real difference in our approaches is for more power you use your longer levers where I do the intense exercises that allows me to stay with my hands. Did you "invent" the concept of the lever stroke or is it something you were taught?

If you are ever in the PA/NY/NJ/DE/MD area, let me know (contact info in my public profile). I'd like to come out and see you in action, and meet you in person.

So is the debate over? Who won? ha ha.
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  #59  
Old 04-14-2009, 07:24 PM
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Alex Luce Alex Luce is offline
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

Larry: Thanks for asking. I was shown the motion I call the lever stroke back in the 80s, when I was a student at North Texas.

I used to have horrible technique, all fingers and forearms, with very bad wrist motion. I was however, a dedicated musician and I practiced my butt off. A fellow drummer took me under his wing and showed me this single stroke motion which used the entire arm. I practiced it for about 3 months and "Boom", one day I finally nailed it and my physical approach to the instrument was forever changed. The stroke is a powerful feeling of motion throughout your entire arm. It is hard to explain, but it feels like my arm is one interconnected unit every time I hit a drum. From this single stroke motion exercise I was able to redevelop all my technique and play 100% relaxed with no tension whatsoever, which was awesome, because tension and stiffness was something I had always struggled with in the past.

I think most virtuoso drummers develop this motion at a young age, but they have a hard time explaining it, or even understanding it because it is a totally integrated part of their playing. They probably don't understand why everybody can't play as well as they do, and wonder why so many drummers struggle with technique. Since I learned this motion at the age of 21, and since my technique totally sucked before that, I might have a unique perspective on the movement, because I know what it feels like NOT to have it.

Anyway, to wrap this up, I've spent the last two years researching the physical properties of the motion, and I released a book/DVD at the end of last year. Of course, the book includes the exercise that allowed me to learn this movement. If you're interested, you can find a link to a preview of my book at my website below.

I love the east coast, and I am going out to the outer banks of NC for a vacation this summer. I won't be in your area, but next time I am I will look you up.

By the way, I am going to let you win the debate, because this is YOUR thread!!

Peace,

Alex
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Old 04-14-2009, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

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Originally Posted by Alex Luce View Post
Hey Z: Thanks for your kind words on the thread. I hope everything is going well. And no, Jojo's method does not create tension, I do the same thing, for speed and subtlety I'll start the movement with my fingers, and let the motion generated flow through the lever system and into my upper arm.
Very well, thanks. Thanks for the videos, your technique is quite impressive! I'd love to get a copy of your book/dvd, if I could?

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Originally Posted by Alex Luce View Post
One thing Jojo talks about is the arm having different "gears", and using the big parts of the arm for bigger sounds and power and the smaller parts for speed and subtlety. (Just like you said above.) I don't quite agree with this, because it's not like I can switch out my forearm for a smaller one if I want to go faster! The arm is a closed system (you can't really switch gears), and when using the arm as a system of levers (which Jojo and all the great players do) moving one part of the hand or arm moves the entire thing. Theoretically you could start the movement at any part of the arm, but I think normally you would start it at one end or the other. So you can't switch gears, but you can start the big strokes from the shoulder and the small strokes from the fingers. Where you primarily start your strokes may depend on what kind of music you play, or volume level you play at.

You can see an example of this if you have Jojo's Secret Weapons video. Check out Disc 1, Chapter 5 at around 21:35 to 22:37. You will see his wrist, forearm and upper arm moving as he uses his fingers to play single strokes. It is a subtle movement, but it is there. In this part of the video, Jojo says "No movement of the wrist". Why he says this is beyond me! The movement is clearly there, and if it wasn't, tension and stiffness would be the result.
Right, gears...that was the term he used. It does seem that movement of the rest of the arm is required, after spending time working on this technique myself. I have felt some unnecessary (and slightly irritating) tension when trying to restrict the movement of the wrist and elbow, like I described earlier. It feels like you're choking the natural motion of the arm.

I watched this part of the DVD again yesterday and you're right; there is some movement in the rest of the arm when he demonstrates it.

The push/pull turned into more of a Moeller motion for me (involving elbows and wrists) so that I can "dribble" the stick off of the head instead of trying to use "fingers only" to make the stroke(s). My control has improved significantly, especially in the fingers...but I'm definitely not moving any faster than I was 6 months ago.
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Old 04-15-2009, 04:27 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

Z: The book is available on Google checkout and Amazon. You can just search for my name at Amazon, or go to the "See Inside The Book" link at my website, and then click on "Google Coupon Code".

Of course all those exercises on Jojo's video work (he is living proof), but you need to have a solid fundamental stroke (using your arm as a lever system) before you can attempt to really duplicate what he does. Jojo suggests starting out with the free stroke, but when you let go of the stick at the base of this stroke to let it rebound you really can't get a feel for the arm's lever system--because only one half of the movement is being used. Jim Chapin says: "The stroke should be an effortless, continuous motion."

One thing for sure, Jojo did not learn how to play using the free stroke. He started at the age of 2. When a toddler tries to hit the drums, he or she will hold the sticks tightly and use their entire arms to strike them. This is the only way they can hit the instrument. A toddler can’t just use their fingers or wrists, or let go of the stick to let it rebound, they don’t have the dexterity.

Anyway, got a gig, and go to go!

Regards,

Alex
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Old 04-16-2009, 05:31 PM
centralzeke centralzeke is offline
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

Hi Alex. I really like this lever system, it seems like the most natural way to play. It's how our body is supposed to work.

I think a lot of good self-taught drummers do this and they probably play more naturally than some that have been trained.
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Old 04-17-2009, 07:47 PM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

CZ: That is a great point. The thing is, if this really is the most natural and efficient way to play the drums (which I claim), doesn't it make sense that some players will develop it naturally? Especially if they start at a young age and hit the drums with their arms?

This really isn't rocket science, it is just a simple single stroke motion. Children are great imitators. I've got a three year-old boy, and from the way it looks now, his stroke is coming along nicely. And I've never had to tell him a thing, he just copies what I do.

Regards,

Alex
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Old 05-07-2009, 12:35 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

Very interesting this one was. Will try it out. Doing the exercise in pt. 1 clearly showed me that my left is indeed weak. That might be part of the wobbling wrist/banana arc problem that I have. A whipping leverstroke is logically the most economic way to create speed and power no doubt (read all existing theory on the golf swing), but me for one see no problem in building relevant muscles up and then use them for a relaxed whipping motion. In my case it might be neccesary to do some of the first in order to get to the second.
Thanks for the video clip Larry. You either ruined my chanses of ever becoming a decent drummer or you made my day. I'll let you know, haha.
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Old 05-07-2009, 05:51 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

LP: The "whipping lever stroke" as you called it is better defined as the Moeller stroke. The lever stroke doesn't necessarily include a whipping movement.

As far as building the muscles and THEN working on the motion: The idea is by working on the motions needed for expert playing, you will naturally develop all the muscles you need. Motion does not occur without muscular force.

Regards,

Alex
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:22 AM
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Obviously not...that wasn't my point.

It's not easy to stay relaxed at all times while playing, even the "best of the best" admit that they still have to be conscious of staying relaxed. We also know that developing bad habits can also be easy.

This exercise counters both of those concepts in a negative way.

It's not something I'd even consider doing - regardless of any perceived benefits. However, I do lift weights and perform cardiovascular exercise to help my health and my drumming. These are disciplines that are entirely outside of drumming and won't foster bad habits and unnecessary tension in my drumming...on the contrary.

However, I do feel that sitting at a drum or pad, intentionally using tension, and striking a drum while tense is just a bad idea, for obvious reasons.
I agree with zambizzi. It is the complete opposite of what I want my students doing.

Oh, the guy here in the shop wondered what kind of tin pot you're playing? :-)
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:36 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

My apologies for my tin pot. It really is a good sounding drum. It's just that the video camera mic is so bad, plus I had he drum wide open, but really the mic just makes my drums sound like poo.
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:55 AM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

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Originally Posted by Alex Luce View Post
LP: The "whipping lever stroke" as you called it is better defined as the Moeller stroke. The lever stroke doesn't necessarily include a whipping movement.

As far as building the muscles and THEN working on the motion: The idea is by working on the motions needed for expert playing, you will naturally develop all the muscles you need. Motion does not occur without muscular force.

Regards,

Alex
I stand corrected. I'll try to sort the different techs out and name them right.
I never ment to do only "workout" and then, when I'm strong enough, start drumming properly. It's more like both for as long as it takes (or I experience that it doesn't help me at all).
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Old 05-07-2009, 03:44 PM
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Default Re: killer hand exercises I was taught

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My apologies for my tin pot. It really is a good sounding drum. It's just that the video camera mic is so bad, plus I had he drum wide open, but really the mic just makes my drums sound like poo.
Larry, I kind of liked the sound of your drum!

Alex
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