Has practicing on pillows helped with your speed or control

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
I think the main mistake people make is gripping the stick too hard when they play on pillows. Or anytime, period.
It's all the time.

They key to everything is relaxing. This includes the hands too. When I'm relaxed I can play faster, for longer periods of time.

Doing a 30-40 second stretch of blast beats is easy at 230bpm+ when I have been practicing hard for a few weeks because I am relaxed. If I decide to skip practicing, don't do any pad work, and just wing it after a few weeks my arms, hands, shoulders, back, will tense up when I muscle it out and it either sounds bad or falls apart.

You can HEAR a relaxed drummer compared to someone gripping those sticks.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
And the pillow comes back to haunt us again.
My Dad was a drum teacher way way back a long time ago in 1950. I used to help teach his beginner students when I was a teenager. We used the pillow to help train the beginning students. They would practice on a pillow for the first few months along with the pad. The pillow helped them develop proper technique. It teaches your muscles in your arms, wrists and hands to pull the stick off of the drum. Once they learned this technique the next step was to teach them how to control the stick rebound. The pillow was only used to create muscle memory in the beginning. After that the pillow was no longer necessary.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
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.
Could be for some, but I have great stick control and rebound technique-- however, the pillow is too extreme. I found the best "deader" rebound that didn't cause any issues is the Prologix blue practice pad. Less rebound than a traditional pad but not as dead as a pillow.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Pillows can be many things.

I like the Moongels. Just to be difficult, as they recently came out with a new " improved" model. I like the old ones better. 😄

It's a phase for me where I have several pads set up around me in spots where I feel I'm not in control. Working my wrists and often holding the sticks further back in my hands. It's inspired by how I've heard Tony Williams practiced in his later years. It's mainly a balance and comfort things for me, both in gaining comfort in weak areas, but also challenge myself to focus on the exercise and how it sounds regardless.

For general use the Xymox is still the one. It depends on how you usually tune, obviously, but for me it just takes slightly more effort than my regular snare without hurting my technique.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Could be for some, but I have great stick control and rebound technique-- however, the pillow is too extreme. I found the best "deader" rebound that didn't cause any issues is the Prologix blue practice pad. Less rebound than a traditional pad but not as dead as a pillow.
Fair enough! If you're on board with low-rebound practice I don't think it really matters what you do it on. I've got lots of pads, and I'm very prone to walk around hitting random things with sticks to "see how they play".
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Though I don't practice on my practice pillow I still have the darn thing (it's ancient)-it has served a roll in bass drums too. I've only owned one pad and didn't like it. Now my pillow proudly sits on top of my foot rest of my basement chair near drum kit. I often place my snare or tom on it while tuning with my drum dial-so it's a tuning pillow and foot rest. I was happy with that Doc till you espoused your views-so I'm going to try it as a pad again-maybe it will help with my technique. Oh I almost forgot the thumbs up dude LOL! RenderedImage copy 2.jpeg
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I think the main mistake people make is gripping the stick too hard when they play on pillows. Or anytime, period.
Dang that's my problem-gotta death grip. I've been noting when on ride I prefer to grab the stick up for more fingers so more loose (though I tend to hold at ends coming from hats) but when move to my hats it slides down to holding at ends. Seems like with pillows it's all wrist and no fingers?? Reminds me of a Tony Williams video where he stated he didn't use rebound-says need to noodle out each stroke. Now I tried that and my hands inevitably move towards end of stick-so my grip is loose enough to slide. I'm at a loss but since I've been noodling with rods I wonder if a larger diameter stick would help me. I use to use 7A working on jazz and it was killing my hands, so moved to 5A-maybe I need to move to a 2? I like the larger diameter-it's easier for me to grip it seems.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Dang that's my problem-gotta death grip. I've been noting when on ride I prefer to grab the stick up for more fingers so more loose (though I tend to hold at ends coming from hats) but when move to my hats it slides down to holding at ends. Seems like with pillows it's all wrist and no fingers?? Reminds me of a Tony Williams video where he stated he didn't use rebound-says need to noodle out each stroke. Now I tried that and my hands inevitably move towards end of stick-so my grip is loose enough to slide. I'm at a loss but since I've been noodling with rods I wonder if a larger diameter stick would help me. I use to use 7A working on jazz and it was killing my hands, so moved to 5A-maybe I need to move to a 2? I like the larger diameter-it's easier for me to grip it seems.
Drum-eze grips work great for me.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Not using rebound at all is probably a stretch, but if you want to play with the power and control Tony had, you pretty much have to develop that.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Of ALL the concepts in practicing the instrument, this is one I never participated in.

Developing control (speed, technique, endurance, etc) requires different combinations of strokes working together holistically for efficiency. Pillows can not accommodate this. The pad was created to assist where a drum isn't an option at the moment. However, nothing suffices for the real thing.

Either pad or snare. That's the instrument we play - not pillows.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Of ALL the concepts in practicing the instrument, this is one I never participated in.

Developing control (speed, technique, endurance, etc) requires different combinations of strokes working together holistically for efficiency. Pillows can not accommodate this. The pad was created to assist where a drum isn't an option at the moment. However, nothing suffices for the real thing.

Either pad or snare. That's the instrument we play - not pillows.
So we don’t play low-tuned floor toms, timpani, etc.? LOL
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
A bit of extra types of work have always been done. Practicing with brushes was abot lifting and some even played brushes in the air. Coins on pillows for acccuracy. There's nothing wrong if done with the right intention.

Bruce Lee didn't just hit people and heavy bags, did he?

We all have different needs and ways of playing though, so it's not a one size fits all thing.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
So we don’t play low-tuned floor toms, timpani, etc.? LOL
no floor tom or tympani I have ever played has reacted like a pillow. Even the 32" tymp playing at a low D is not like a pillow..unless maybe it has real skin heads...

As a teacher, the students who come to me having practiced on pillows almost always have the worst habits that I have to "redo". Those and the ones who have watched Youtube videos and are trying to play faster than their muscles will allow because of compensation due to bad mechanics.

I still agree that a gum rubber pad is the best option if a drum is not...
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
no floor tom or tympani I have ever played has reacted like a pillow. Even the 32" tymp playing at a low D is not like a pillow..unless maybe it has real skin heads...

As a teacher, the students who come to me having practiced on pillows almost always have the worst habits that I have to "redo". Those and the ones who have watched Youtube videos and are trying to play faster than their muscles will allow because of compensation due to bad mechanics.

I still agree that a gum rubber pad is the best option if a drum is not...
Really? Some of the worst habits I’ve seen are kids who’ve only ever played on Kevlar. Put them on a timpani and they sound like they’re dropping turds on the head every time they hit it. And since Kevlar is the opposite of a pillow in terms of rebound...

Realistically, though, a drumset varies quite a bit in rebound depending on which instrument you’re hitting. You don’t hit a cranked-up snare the same way you hit a floor tom that’s tuned super-low, for instance.

Given all that, I think playing on super-tight AND super-loose surfaces is good training. But I’ve seen a LOT of players who can’t play rudiments cleanly on a low-pitched head, because they’re so used to relying on rebound. So that’s why I suggest pillows. Although a lot of people say to grip tight when you’re playing on pillows. I say the complete opposite. Your grip should never be more relaxed than when you’re playing on a low-rebound surface. You have to relax your hand to get a good sound out of a low-pitched timpani when you play it loud, so you should approach pillows the same.
 

TMe

Senior Member
I wonder if a larger diameter stick would help me.
I recently got a pair of Jim Kilpatrick KP2 sticks. They're made with maple and they're very light for their size. The weight is somewhere between a hickory 5B and 2B, but the diameter is bigger than both and most of the weight is in the butt end of the stick. I think I've found my new favourite stick.

I'm going to order a pair of KP3 sticks, which are bigger and intended as practice sticks.

Here's the website for the manufacturer, but I think most large music stores can get them. http://www.jimkilpatrick.co.uk/
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Really? Some of the worst habits I’ve seen are kids who’ve only ever played on Kevlar. Put them on a timpani and they sound like they’re dropping turds on the head every time they hit it. And since Kevlar is the opposite of a pillow in terms of rebound...

Realistically, though, a drumset varies quite a bit in rebound depending on which instrument you’re hitting. You don’t hit a cranked-up snare the same way you hit a floor tom that’s tuned super-low, for instance.
oh, I agree there too, which is why my kids start on a normal snare - actually the combo kit for bells too - and I have them get (usually) the Vic Firth Stockpad, which is like right in the middle for feel to supplement the little "Remo tunable" style pad that comes in the combo kit. They play for 2 years (5th and 6th grade), before we really start looking at modern corps style (Kevlar) playing. In fact, I don't use Kevlar heads in the high school...we use the Aramid heads b/c they are softer, better to tune etc...

but I also do not believe that "kevlar style technique" is bad/un useful. That kind of playing is a LARGE portion of what these guys want to do, and I want them to experience it, so I make sure that they approach it correctly physically and mentally.

Given all that, I think playing on super-tight AND super-loose surfaces is good training. But I’ve seen a LOT of players who can’t play rudiments cleanly on a low-pitched head, because they’re so used to relying on rebound. So that’s why I suggest pillows. Although a lot of people say to grip tight when you’re playing on pillows. I say the complete opposite. Your grip should never be more relaxed than when you’re playing on a low-rebound surface. You have to relax your hand to get a good sound out of a low-pitched timpani when you play it loud, so you should approach pillows the same.
and I should be more specific in saying that the main technique issue I deal with when I get transfers form pillow guys if the whole gripping too tight thing...just like when I get transfers from drum set only guys, the grip is usually way too loose.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Kevlar-headed drums are not a legitimate form of musical expression. They sound terrible, can barely be heard across a football field because of their high pitch and lack of resonance, and cause all sorts of injuries.

It’s just a bad idea all around. I got out of high school right before they switched to Kevlar, and I have nothing but quiet, complete contempt for the people that pushed its use.

And that’s that.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Kevlar-headed drums are not a legitimate form of musical expression. They sound terrible, can barely be heard across a football field because of their high pitch and lack of resonance, and cause all sorts of injuries.

It’s just a bad idea all around. I got out of high school right before they switched to Kevlar, and I have nothing but quiet, complete contempt for the people that pushed its use.

And that’s that.
Yep...that is why most people don't use them anymore...

but musical expression is a different story. I also got out of HS right as they were coming on the scene, and while I agree that the original ones were brutal, I still feel that the playing on them in the 90's, at least at the upper levels, had some moments. Especially if the instructors were teaching correctly, and the arrangements were well thought out.

I guess I would say that Kevlar is no more or less musical than any xylophone playing...60% of the time Xylophones are just annoying sounding and brittle, and xylo parts are just "meandering circus effects"...but then there is the 40% that is well played, with the correct mallet choice and proper arranging....
 
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