Has practicing on pillows helped with your speed or control

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
The only thing you should teach your body to do is play a drum kit not a pillow, and if you get that part down you'll be able to play a pillow all day long without ever practicing on one if that's what excites you :)
The idea behind it is to play on the least ideal surface you can. It works out your wrist in a way that's beneficial.

Why not practice rudiments on a low tuned floor tom? You still have to learn how to play a floor tom not a pillow.
I do. Folks get all uppity when I bring my floor tom in to play on while we watch TV, though. One of my favorite things to do as an exercise is play jazz ride cymbal patterns on my floor tom while playing my left hand as normal. The more up-tempo you get, the more difficult.

Why not practice your chops on a practice pad and do not utilize the bounce of the pad?
I do. It's primarily an exercise in controlling bounce, though, which is different from what we're doing playing on a pillow; that is playing with literally no bounce, and in fact near total absorption of energy.

The pad is a joke if you spoil yourself with its inherent rebound. What I suggest is practice clean and slow on a pad without bounce 90% of the time, the other 10% feel free to spoil yourself.
Most pads I've played are trying to emulate the bounce of a snare drum. Ignoring that 90% of the time seems a bit weird. Nobody is saying use a pillow instead of a pad. It's just another neat trick to practice something else.

That will teach someone discipline while improving chops, the pillow is just silly in my opinion.
You're of course welcome to hold that opinion, but I think you miss the point.

Also...if you practice your chops on a floor tom your hands will learn to get good sound out of it.
No argument here. In fact, I think you might be surprised if you spent a few minutes on a pillow, and then moved on to focus practice time on your floor tom. It's like how swinging two bats on ready will make one bat seem effortless when you're finally up to the plate.

And you misunderstood when I said "correct feel", you make it sound like I'm about to take out a drum dial to dial in someone else's drums accordingly to how I prefer my drums to feel lol.
That wasn't what I was getting after. I'm talking about developing total flexibility so that you can play on any surface.

In the end, we're all wired different and for some pillow practice might help but for me I find less obstacles to overcome the more time I spend practicing on the actual drum kit.
That's great, and I absolutely agree. Spend as much time as you can at your kit. When you can't be at your kit, practice in other ways. Be creative. If you can't practice at all, practice music in your head. May not be ideal, but it's all learning/development in the end.

On a side note, disregarding the pillows, I don't think there are any surfaces in my dwelling or car that have not been hit with a drum stick at least once(probably para diddled...). I'm often fascinated by the tonal and physical qualities of almost any substance or surface.
 

PeteN

Silver Member
Dr_Watso...

You mention I should try practicing on a pillow in your last reply and in my initial post I stated that I tried it for some time in the past and while it did help, it was not for me or maybe I should say I decided to move on and explore more practice techniques over my actual drums.

I have practiced on a pillow for long periods and then played my drums, it was a rush but nothing beats practicing on the real deal to get wrist memory, finesse and articulation in my opinion.

Moeller and push pull have helped me more than pillow practice.

Endless hours of slow practice to the stick control book have also done wonders to my chops.

So many other things (way too many to mention) I've practiced have helped as well.

In all honesty I can't target any single thing and state that its helped me the most and I would think the combination of all things practiced have improved my playing.

And earlier I mentioned practicing without rebound on a pad 90% of the time I did not mean it to sound like that's all I do on the pad. I go through phases where I might spend a month being extremely disciplined on the pad, then maybe the next month i might work the rebound more.

I think you would agree that it's the combination of things we practice are the biggest benefit in are overall progress.

Would I practice on a pillow again? I would but in moderation and just have fun with it that's it. Maybe for the newer drummers that have minimal wrist strength/memory the pillow practice can be practiced a little more in the beginning?

Like I said we're all different in how we practice yet so many of us end up with similar skill levels so I would agree the pillow thing is just another tool as you mentioned.

On a side note....I do like my moongel pad more than pillow pad practice ;-)
 

cornelius

Silver Member
If playing on a pillow works for someone, than that's wonderful... I tried it a long time ago, and it just lead to uneven, sloppy playing...

If I want to practice with little rebound I use brushes - I also practice a lot on just the snare, tensioning it all over the place. Sometimes I have to tune the drum down for a specific gig or song, and I'm glad I put in the time to have that touch, even when the drum doesn't respond like a drum that's cranked up... But a pillow gave me nothing but bad habits - but I play really loose and maybe if someone's grip is different, the pillow thing will work...
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Mike Johnston has a practice routine that I enjoyed a while back

you put a pad on your snare and a magazine on your floor tom

you go from 100 bpm to 200 bpm working up in increments of ten playing double strokes in a 16th note subdivision

4 minutes on each tempo......1 min on pad, 1 min on mag, 1 min on pad, 1 min on mag then break and raise tempo

it's nice for contrast

going from one surface to the next without stopping forces you to seamlessly adjust your techniques

I had great results with this as do my more advanced students

I bring this up because the magazine has a pillow type of effect

it is not all about wrist on these dead surfaces.....it is how your whole hand responds when rebound is not throwing the stick back at you .....fingers included

there is very little benefit to strictly practicing on dead surfaces.....it is the contrast we need to develop alternating techniques without even thinking about it
 

ktz

Member
I don't know why people keeps going along the lines of "playing on pillows just gave me bad habits". To me, whoever says "it's not about the pillow, it's about how you use it" is right.
It just makes sense. There's no way to develop bad habits if you just use it to work on endurance and your wrists work. How could it screw your sound, really? If you don't push it, all it does is forcing your forearm to work close to the limits, training your muscles.
I, personally, think that one of the errors is to try to use accents. I think that stuff like that does not make sense on a pillow. It forces you to hit harder for no reason and harder in the "wrong way".
If I keep in mind to avoid that, but I keep doing simple workouts of 10/15 minutes, I can clearly see that my muscle aches and grows and my endurance largely benefits.

Think about what do you want to achieve, from your exercises on a pillow, and you won't be disappointed.
If you want to achieve better velocity control on it, then you should go back to study physics or something.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
Practicing on pillows is great for building wrist chops, however your finger control will not develop at all since that requires rebound. I'd suggest to focus on pad work for sure since that's where the higher end technique will all come from, and then occasionally feel free to knock yourself out drumming like a manimal on the couch cushion!
 
In my opinion, practicing on pillows makes you good at playing on pillows. If you want to gt good at drumming, play on a drum or something as close to a drum as possible. You don't have to play to a boring metronome, but it helps. Practice rudiments to your favorite song or tv show. Pillows are for sleeping!
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
This is a very old thread. It's a thing that comes up again and again, though. It showed up when I did a search for Dick Cully.

In any case, I think there's bit more to this. A big fat pillow isn't the best except for recovery and using other muscles, but no rebound practice can be good, but and there's a BIG BUT. It should be done with correct technique.

These days I do manily this when not on the pad. I had on of the new Moongel pads and recently got three more. I think it's great, but yes, it's detrimental if you do it wrong. I don't even think you shouldbe doing it if your techique isn't already good. This is to bring that extra little bit of conditioning.

For are more snare like pad I like the Xymox laminate pads. I got on that search because I couldn't spend so much time on the kit.

Yes, you should spend most of your time on real drums if you have the chance. There are lots of different surfaces on a drum kit though, so I don't see the issue. What I don't like are regular rubber pads.

When conditioned enough, you can definetly use almost a full range of techniques on low/zero rebound surfaces. My right hand is good at this. My left hand matched grip, not so much.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
oh man...the pillow thing....

For me personally, this was the worst advice I ever got, mostly b/c the person who told me to do it did not preface it with any other comments on how to use it, and I ended up learning really bad habits, and also hurt my hands/arms a bit.

I never tell my students to use a pillow. I usually have them use the gum rubber side of a Real Feel octagon pad if they want that kind of "resistance" training. And I have them use marching size sticks. But not the "Hammer" type chop out sticks that are sometimes popular...again, because I don't want them doing any damage to hard tissue, and I don't want them cheating technique.

Slow and even, then slowly increase the tempo without sacrificing technique and movement control. Once you get to a tempo where you are losing control, back down 10 bpm and stay there for a while to build endurance. For me, the correct use of and communication between the muscle groups is the most important thing.
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
One thing that never got mentioned in any replies is the fact that on a pillow you can get down to an inaudible volume especially if the tv is on. For me this is great beacause I am the volume dynamic in our band and when there is pa support sometimes I can't hear some things at all. But I know I am playing them just fine from having worked them on pillows, taking them from barely audible down to drowned out and back and forth.
I also like to sit and down tap up on the pillow, up down tap especially, then can't forget tap up down.
Another super quieter than a pad way is to take an old cymbal and put it on a pillow and use brushes. That really forces effort to play cleanly and not mush it into the surface.
For me pillow is to help me feel the stick as it contacts the surface and to have the reaction motion fine tuned for a clean hit. I don't practice on pillows above mezzo piano, that seems pointless and potentially damaging.
YMMV?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Practicing on a pillow was hugely beneficial for me, but it's not something I still do constantly as a work out or anything. More like the skills I needed were incorporated and I now don't rely on rebound for what I'm doing at the kit... I can still use it, but I NEVER have to rely on it as I gained full control over all parts of the stroke should I need it.

Anyone who tells you it's useless is being obtuse.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
oh man...the pillow thing....

For me personally, this was the worst advice I ever got, mostly b/c the person who told me to do it did not preface it with any other comments on how to use it, and I ended up learning really bad habits, and also hurt my hands/arms a bit.
My experience as well. As conservatively as I tried (3 different occasions) to use a bed pillow for limited stick practice, I found each time it strained/irritated my hand ligaments/muscles a bit to the point where I had to lay off all practice for a few days. Needless to say, I stopped doing this again...
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Playing on pillows I did when I was younger. But recently I've been playing with rutes-hot rods-WTH you wanna call them-a bundle of sticks so quieter as my wife convalesces from surgery. I haven't done so in a long time-I tried them at church years ago and the sound guys told me they sounded terrible. Anyways I digress, it is quieter but man it has a whole different feel than sticks and it would just "chug" along if not forcing you to bring life to it with dynamics. They aren't lively on cymbals so you gotta make them so.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
I wonder if OP from 2010 can weigh in on his progress lol.

In my opinion, mixing it up with pad work and using good technique won't hurt, and will build some endurance and wrist muscles, but NO drum feels like a pillow. A floor tom tuned as low as it goes still has SOME rebound.

Get a moongel workout pad. That is like a low tuned floor tom and man on man does it work. There is ALMOST no rebound, but still isn't dead like a pillow. i mix it up between that, a prologix blue lightning, which is more like a rack tom, and toss in your favorite remo or evens pad if you want it to feel like a cranked snare drum. Never get too used to once surface as no two drums are the same and they change over time. Different kits, different heads will always rebound a bit different. I'll often practice with different types of sticks.

By doing this I can gear share or hop on a kit at the drop of a hat stress free. It's funny how many guys make excuses "oh it's not my kit", or "that kit was tuned weird so I couldn't play my best". I've seen dudes full out turn down opportunities to play as it wasn't their kit.

It's pretty easy to tell someone who does padwork and someone who doesn't. Even when watching them play on a kit. When people say pad work doesn't make you a better drummer I usually ignore it and feel slightly bad for them. I suppose if you just play money beats all day it may not be necessary, but if you ever want to solo, play chops, play fast, get better control, have better ghostnotes, etc. padwork does wonders
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
My experience as well. As conservatively as I tried (3 different occasions) to use a bed pillow for limited stick practice, I found each time it strained/irritated my hand ligaments/muscles a bit to the point where I had to lay off all practice for a few days. Needless to say, I stopped doing this again...
Without looking I can't say for sure, but this sounds like an overall technique issue more than a problem because you're playing without rebound. Could also be an old injury or something. You are giving certain muscles a bit of a work out that normally don't get a lot of attention when we play on a kit.

Goes without saying for me but I'll say it anyhow: Using bad technique on a pillow won't help you get good technique, that's not the point. You need to understand good stroke technique first, then apply it to a pillow so that you are able to manually control all parts of a stroke and follow up.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Practicing on pillows is great for building wrist chops, however your finger control will not develop at all since that requires rebound. I'd suggest to focus on pad work for sure since that's where the higher end technique will all come from, and then occasionally feel free to knock yourself out drumming like a manimal on the couch cushion!
That's hard to argue against. You need both. Fingers are the the university to the wrist's high school.
 
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