Grip and finger length

n1ck

Member
there are a lot of things taught in the trade ... using a hammer is not one of them ... never has been
You've moved the goalpost.

Unless I'm wrong, TMe was merely noting that DISCUSSION around hammer technique still abounds, despite the fact that hammering seems like such a straightforward thing. I see no suggestion on his part that construction workers "learn" how to hammer on their first day.

The point is, whether you're talking about how to swing a hammer or how to throw a drumstick, there are techniques and subtleties that people derive real value from discussing.

You don't just get to just dispense with 200+ years of time-tested drumming orthodoxy because you're annoyed by it.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
You've moved the goalpost.

Unless I'm wrong, TMe was merely noting that DISCUSSION around hammer technique still abounds, despite the fact that hammering seems like such a straightforward thing. I see no suggestion on his part that construction workers "learn" how to hammer on their first day.

The point is, whether you're talking about how to swing a hammer or how to throw a drumstick, there are techniques and subtleties that people derive real value from discussing.

You don't just get to just dispense with 200+ years of time-tested drumming orthodoxy because you're annoyed by it.

I'm not seeing who is annoyed

at any rate ... the discussion is about all hands being different and using what is natural without being told what is "correct"

there is no "correct" across the board

you like a thumb and index fulcrum ... wonderful ... I wish you years of success with it

in my opinion no teacher should ever tell you that there is a "correct" and "incorrect" way to hold and motivate a stick ... a proper teacher presents options that relate themselves to natural movement

a lot of times so much time is wasted working so hard on what a student feels is "correct" because his teacher says so and it feels so uncomfortable and unnatural but they grind it for 4 months and force it to feel good ... when they could have explored options and been finished with that process in probably one day

I personally know multiple teachers who insist on teaching index/thumb fulcrum and preach this first knuckle stuff ... but then you watch them play and they themselves are not using anything of the sort

it is like they are programmed by that 200+ years you speak of to teach that way when they themselves don't even use it

almost every drum teacher I know seems so afraid to go against what seems like some holy tradition ... like lightening is going to strike them if they do not live by what other teachers have said

teachers waste too much time with minutia that is not very important in the grand scheme

I have a number of past students who I handed their first pair of sticks who ended up going to some of the most prestigious music schools and conservatories in the world ... a couple on scholarship ... many who now work full time as players in the industry.
this is what I dedicate a large portion of my life to ... the words "this is how you hold a stick" have never been uttered in my studio

if a teachers is forcing a student to use a hand position that they have to constantly concentrate on keeping or that feels unnatural they are wasting valuable time that could be dedicated to furthering the advancement of the student.

you guys be well ... this discussion has grown long in the tooth for me
 

n1ck

Member
at any rate ... the discussion is about all hands being different and using what is natural without being told what is "correct"
there is no "correct" across the board
Yes, sometimes there is. Even Ed Soph has remarked that, while there are small differences in people's hands, we all fundamentally work the same way. That's why there are established standards with regard to grip.

Would you let a beginning guitar student hold their pick between their thumb and ring finger because it "felt natural" to them?

in my opinion no teacher should ever tell you that there is a "correct" and "incorrect" way to hold and motivate a stick ... a proper teacher presents options that relate themselves to natural movement
Well of course natural movement is important, but why would a teacher of all people not be qualified to tell a student the correct way to hold a stick? Isn't that a teacher's job? Wouldn't you be doing that student a disservice otherwise? What happens when they get to high school and lose a timpani audition 'cause they don't know what French grip is?

a lot of times so much time is wasted working so hard on what a student feels is "correct" because his teacher says so and it feels so uncomfortable and unnatural but they grind it for 4 months and force it to feel good ... when they could have explored options and been finished with that process in probably one day
Well look, if a teacher is straight-up giving a student BAD information and the student is wasting his or her time on it, then that's a problem. But that's way different than a student working through something that's actually correct that SHOULD take them a while to get going. No one ever said you were supposed to master hand technique in one day.

teachers waste too much time with minutia that is not very important in the grand scheme
Most drummers would argue that knowing how to hold a stick the right way (yes, the right way) is pretty important in the grand scheme. Sorry if that sounds flippant, but I'm serious.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
Yes, sometimes there is. Even Ed Soph has remarked that, while there are small differences in people's hands, we all fundamentally work the same way. That's why there are established standards with regard to grip.

Would you let a beginning guitar student hold their pick between their thumb and ring finger because it "felt natural" to them?
If it did the job and it allowed them to play better than hold it between thumb and index finger? Yes, I would.

Well of course natural movement is important, but why would a teacher of all people not be qualified to tell a student the correct way to hold a stick? Isn't that a teacher's job? Wouldn't you be doing that student a disservice otherwise? What happens when they get to high school and lose a timpani audition 'cause they don't know what French grip is?
Not all teachers are necessarily qualified. There are many who just regurgitate what they have been taught. I can tell you I have been taught many things by teachers, just to move on and find out by another teacher (a lot of times more qualified) that what I was taught was not necessarily correct or sometimes completely incorrect.

I thought we were talking about drum set playing, not classical playing. Classical playing for many instruments has its own set of minutia that people have to conform to that doesn't make any sense in the real world.

Also, realistically if someone disqualifies someone on an audition just because their grip isn't right even though they are the better player should really take a look at their priorities.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I'm going through this right now with a student. His hands are very different -- longer fingers and long thumb. I'm trying to get him to move his fulcrum toward his first index joint, and sort of back, towards his middle finger.

The reason I'm trying to change his technique is: with the relocated fulcrum, he can play certain rudiments, phrases, and grooves faster (because of lower stick heights), with more dynamic range, clarity, and evenness of sound. He's a better drummer in every way, and we have proof of this on slow-motion video. But it only lasts for a moment, because then old habits kick in and he's back to his old self. So, we're trying to put more "miles" on the new technique, to get it to become a new habit. He's trying to grow his abilities, and old habits are holding him back.

This new technique is only "correct" for him because it accomplishes what he says he wants to do. And his old technique is only "wrong" because he hits a wall when he uses it. Much of the battle with technique is getting the whole hand involved, especially the pinky finger, and this is easier to do if your index finger isn't wrapped around the stick.

Assuming all other fingers are in relatively the same place in the grip, the first joint of my index finger would be further down and I would either have to straighten my index finger out past my thumb to get the stick to that first joint, or let the stick fall more away from my palm, which feels very much out of control.
Yes, it feels VERY out of control! It's a much looser grip in general. But it's really not as uncontrolled as you think. Some finger or part of your hand will keep the stick from falling out. Obviously, there will be mistakes along the way, and it's all but guaranteed that you'll drop the stick on occasion. But it's a part of the process.

The advantage of having your index finger somewhat straightened (not all the way!) is that your pinky and ring fingers can quickly and easily squeeze the butt end of the stick, in order to control the rebound. If your fulcrum is further up your index, at the second joint or further, you'll squeeze near the fulcrum, instead of far away from it. (On a teeter-totter, if you apply force near the fulcrum, you have to apply more force than if you were applying it at far from the fulcrum.)
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I used to get some guff from my first teacher that I held the stick too far back.

I saw them play a gig, though, and for most of it, they held the stick "wrong" too. Left me wondering if "wrong" was really "wrong" if it was actually the means to both of our ends. Seemed like there was a big difference between real life on the stage or in performance and these theoretical "correct" holding ideas.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
I used to get some guff from my first teacher that I held the stick too far back.

I saw them play a gig, though, and for most of it, they held the stick "wrong" too. Left me wondering if "wrong" was really "wrong" if it was actually the means to both of our ends. Seemed like there was a big difference between real life on the stage or in performance and these theoretical "correct" holding ideas.
That happens to me, too, usually when I'm playing on the proverbial "edge".

Maybe we're taught the "correct" technique so we don't go over the edge too soon, or go too far over it?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
That happens to me, too, usually when I'm playing on the proverbial "edge".

Maybe we're taught the "correct" technique so we don't go over the edge too soon, or go too far over it?
Well, take from it what you will. I won't say your thought is invalid, but it's not exactly what I meant.

Here's another anecdote of mine.

When I was young I went through a period where I liked to study martial arts. Took all sorts of lessons and learned a heck of a lot. One thing I noticed, was that "perfect" from-the-books form was always heavily stressed. That's just how it was, so you did it. I noticed that in informal(and sometimes formal) sparring matches, even the teachers who gave us these perfect forms to study almost never used them verbatim. Almost like the real world of a fight was different from the control and focus of a dojo or practice hall.

Taking the thought a step further, to a "real" throwdown, usually what wins the day is true experience. The guy with the most time in the ring, the one who really understands what really happens and was able to study primarily the techniques/areas of focus that actually applied to fighting, those were the guys who could really bring it home. Perfect form didn't really mean much at the end of that day.

In my experience, just playing music first, and then seeking out the techniques you need to apply to make your music happen is going to be where it's at. If anyone asked me, I'd say don't worry too much about finger length or what fulcrum to use unless you're really deep-studying because you're bill bachman or whatever. Just use what you need to make the notes you want.

Please note, I am not saying we shouldn't study technique. Don't take that from this. These are just thinking points and maybe a light suggestion.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
There are probably a few absolutes, but not many. Mostly, there is a large pool of technical choices we may find useful to a varying degree, and often depending on the specific situation. If there's one thing the 100 years of modern drum set playing have taught us, it's that there are many approaches that work.

For every teacher or master drummer who advocates one approach, there are others who swear by a different one. Sometimes these approaches are complementary, but other times they directly contradict each other.

Just off the top of my head:
Matched or traditional?
French, American or German?
Moeller or push-pull?
Heel-up or heel-down?
Index finger and thumb fulcrum, or index finger, middle finger and thumb fulcrum? What about ring finger and pinkie?
The pinkie should never leave the stick, or sometimes it should?

Speaking of how far back to hold the stick, look at Gavin Harrison and Peter Erskine. Two master players, and Peter is also a respected educator, and they do things that many consider "wrong."

The longer I do this, the less I believe in absolutes. What works in one situation may not work in another. Drumming has evolved. We've gone from rudiments on a snare drum to jazz rhythms on drum set to adapting latin rhythms to extreme volume rock and metal playing. There is no one way to hold the stick that works for all of those. How I grip the stick for a buzz roll is not the same as for a huge backbeat rimshot.

I'm no teacher, but that's how I see it. And more and more of the players and teachers I respect the most approach these things the same way, so...
 

TMe

Senior Member
I noticed that in informal(and sometimes formal) sparring matches, even the teachers who gave us these perfect forms to study almost never used them verbatim.
Exactly. Gotta have a plan to deviate from. So study the forms, then use what works.

German, American, French, etc. are all somewhat idealized "forms". If a person spends some time with each of them, they can make a more informed choice about what works for them and, ideally, they can forget all about technique when they're actually performing.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I get to teach students who have private teachers, and my good friends are some of those teachers. A student will be struggling with a piece of music, and so I'll suggest a different approach or technique. Very frequent I'll hear this response: "well my teacher told me to do it this way". Of course, I know this is complete bulls**t. I'll drag the student across the hall and have a discussion with me, the teacher, and the student, where it becomes very obvious that the student misunderstood the teaching.

How I grip the stick for a buzz roll is not the same as for a huge backbeat rimshot.
I know more than a few drum teachers, and lots of music teachers in general. And it's not the teachers who say "this way is right, this way is wrong" -- it's the students.

Students study a technique, and extrapolate that it means they should abandon some other technique.

Matched or traditional? Both.
French, American or German? All.
Moeller or push-pull? Both.
Heel-up or heel-down? Both.

I hear pros say what works for them, and I hear teachers discuss the merits and limits of different techniques. But the people claiming something is "correct" or "better"? Those are students, hobbyists, and clickbait YouTube video drummers, by and large.

The good new is that anyone can share knowledge; the bad news is that anyone can share knowledge. Know thy source.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I hear pros say what works for them, and I hear teachers discuss the merits and limits of different techniques. But the people claiming something is "correct" or "better"? Those are students, hobbyists, and clickbait YouTube video drummers, by and large.

The good new is that anyone can share knowledge; the bad news is that anyone can share knowledge. Know thy source.
Very good post!
I’d like to throw my experience in the mix. My father was a drummer and drum teacher. He was my drum teacher. This was back in 1950. I was taught that traditional grip as in Buddy Rich/Gene Krupa technique was the “correct” way to play the drums. Everything else was wrong.

I was totally out of the drumming world for 45 years. After five years on this forum I have discovered that other stick techniques are also valid.

Now when I see drummers play with what I think is horrible technique, I pretty much ignore it. But still I have a hard time thinking it’s ok. And of course what constitutes “bad technique” is subjective. So now I just try and not make any comments on technique. I taught drums in the 60’s. My father would let me teach his beginning students. I would be afraid to teach drums today. :)


.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
Very good post!
I’d like to throw my experience in the mix. My father was a drummer and drum teacher. He was my drum teacher. This was back in 1950. I was taught that traditional grip as in Buddy Rich/Gene Krupa technique was the “correct” way to play the drums. Everything else was wrong.

I was totally out of the drumming world for 45 years. After five years on this forum I have discovered that other stick techniques are also valid.

Now when I see drummers play with what I think is horrible technique, I pretty much ignore it. But still I have a hard time thinking it’s ok. And of course what constitutes “bad technique” is subjective. So now I just try and not make any comments on technique. I taught drums in the 60’s. My father would let me teach his beginning students. I would be afraid to teach drums today. :)


.
Speaking about traditional grip, just look at Stewart Copeland... he plays trad but not traditional traditional grip. He plays with the stick resting on his middle finger and not his ring ringer. I'm certainly not going to tell him he's playing incorrectly.
 

TMe

Senior Member
...what constitutes “bad technique” is subjective.
Maybe I'm out to lunch on this, but I tell people that when drummers talk about "technique" they're usually talking about ergonomics, as opposed to "chops". That's why some amazing drummers are criticized for having bad technique. They sound great, but they're destroying their bodies.

Similarly, a singer might have a great voice, but vocal coaches cringe at the sound because they think the person's going to end up needing surgery if they keep singing that way. Great voice, but bad technique.
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
I was taught that traditional grip as in Buddy Rich/Gene Krupa technique was the “correct” way to play the drums. Everything else was wrong.
I admire that old school view of that the old cats used to teach with. When it came time to find a new teacher I wanted one of those "correct way" guys. I realize a rigid approach like that may not be for everybody but it has done me well when it came to gigging.
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
Speaking about traditional grip, just look at Stewart Copeland... he plays trad but not traditional traditional grip. He plays with the stick resting on his middle finger and not his ring ringer. I'm certainly not going to tell him he's playing incorrectly.
Same with Steve Jordan, he's so far back on the stick I just don't know if he can play doubles. He sure can groove though.
 

Supernoodle

Senior Member
Speaking about traditional grip, just look at Stewart Copeland... he plays trad but not traditional traditional grip. He plays with the stick resting on his middle finger and not his ring ringer. I'm certainly not going to tell him he's playing incorrectly.
Wow that is crazy, I never noticed it... works for him I guess. :)

Some drummers even play traditional grip without using the other fingers:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khpua05L914
 
Top