Let's Discuss Sticking Methods

stellar92010

Senior Member
What is your sticking method? I've found it convenient to learn a method and addhere to it. The method I am using is called 'root sticking' My teacher says most people play using a form of this. Basically, your lead hand (Right in my case) will always strike downbeats (quarter notes) and 'and beats' when there are 16th note phrases. Other notes--the 'e' and ah are always played with left hand. However ('and' beats in a phrase of 2 8th notes always are played with the left hand unless a 16th is embedded in the phrase. this ensures that the lead hand lands on the down beat.

thirty-second notes are cne-e-and-a for groups of 2, like 16ths, and the corresponding beats are played with double strokes.

The method breads down for eiigth note tirplets. So trriplets are alternated. But, when a 1/4 or longer rest occurs, or a whole note, or half note, then the next downbeat switches back to the right hand. For a dotted eight with sixteenth the sixteenth will be played left hand so the downbeat falls on the right hand.

Anyone hear of this method? Its fabulous for reading.. Once you get it down, its easy to speed read even difficult phrases and passages.

It really seems logical, and I even tried it for reading bass guitar, and there is a corresponding method. (I use to play bass)

What method do you use?
 

Dave_Major

Silver Member
This 'method' is pretty standard and useful especially for beginners but massively limiting.

I think about it like this - Anything through Everything

That means any sticking pattern through all subdivisions and all time signatures.

The main way we, as drummers, can shape the music and our sounds is through our note rate and the sticking pattern we use. Different sticking patterns have different shapes with different peaks and troughs.

A command of all the common ones and combinations will allow you to express yourself fully and let the voices in your head out.

D
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Isn't this just simply right hand lead.

It's just a single stroke sticking. Over time I'd add pretty much any other sticking possibilities for grooves and sound options. Also to internalize rhtythm in my head as supposed to just my hands.

So my answer is that I use all stickings as practice and choose what works best for each situation.

Any sticking is usable just place your hands on two different sound sources and you'll see why.

What you describe is what I teach students first, though. Helps their time, control and makes marching much easier for them.
 

PatMcLaughlin

Junior Member
Yes, "Natural" or "Alternating" sticking are two other popular names for this method.

It's definitely the default sticking method to use when you're sight reading or learning a new tune because it is very reliable.

Beyond that, as others have mentioned, it's important to find and use an appropriate stickings that best fit the particular passage you're playing.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
The two sticking methods are "natural" and "alternating," they are different and both have their place.

Natural sticking: This refers to the sticking that is natural referencing a stream of notes with all of the subdivisions played. For example, 16th notes. When all are played the 8th notes (down & upbeats) are played with the right hand, and the e's and ah's are played with the left hand. So a broken up bit using various notes would use the sticking where all of the down & upbeats are played by the right, and all e's and ah's are played by the left.

Alternating sticking: Each stroke alternates hands no matter what.

Natural sticking is good for figuring out timing such that things can flow, but quite often the leading hand ends up way stronger and the "e" & "ah" hand is weaker and the notes are played out of balance.

Alternating sticking forces the hands to balance well since neither gets the chance to dominate.

Another advantage of alternating sticking is that it shares the work load. Try playing "1e+ 2e+ 3e+ 4e+" really fast with natural sticking (rlr rlr rlr rlr ) and you'll find that your right hand gets overworked and loses velocity due to the frequency of the notes it plays. Then play it with alternating sticking (rlr lrl rlr lrl ) and you'll find it's easier to sustain and play it with more power (ideally velocity). The coordination may take a bit to work up, but in my opinion it's a far superior way to play it. (Though natural sticking on that pattern at a slower tempo is a great way to build flow and rhythmic accuracy from the get-go.)

Of course if you're playing on two different sound sources then the desired orchestration dictates the sticking used.
 

cornelius

Silver Member
Early on, I used natural sticking to organize my technique and understand rhythms better. But I also flipped it around and led with my left. Then the last step was to throw it all away...
:)
 

Dave_Major

Silver Member
The two sticking methods are "natural" and "alternating," they are different and both have their place.

Natural sticking: This refers to the sticking that is natural referencing a stream of notes with all of the subdivisions played. For example, 16th notes. When all are played the 8th notes (down & upbeats) are played with the right hand, and the e's and ah's are played with the left hand. So a broken up bit using various notes would use the sticking where all of the down & upbeats are played by the right, and all e's and ah's are played by the left.

Alternating sticking: Each stroke alternates hands no matter what.

Natural sticking is good for figuring out timing such that things can flow, but quite often the leading hand ends up way stronger and the "e" & "ah" hand is weaker and the notes are played out of balance.

Alternating sticking forces the hands to balance well since neither gets the chance to dominate.

Another advantage of alternating sticking is that it shares the work load. Try playing "1e+ 2e+ 3e+ 4e+" really fast with natural sticking (rlr rlr rlr rlr ) and you'll find that your right hand gets overworked and loses velocity due to the frequency of the notes it plays. Then play it with alternating sticking (rlr lrl rlr lrl ) and you'll find it's easier to sustain and play it with more power (ideally velocity). The coordination may take a bit to work up, but in my opinion it's a far superior way to play it. (Though natural sticking on that pattern at a slower tempo is a great way to build flow and rhythmic accuracy from the get-go.)

Of course if you're playing on two different sound sources then the desired orchestration dictates the sticking used.
A little off topic but is this an actual thing and taught 'method' in America.
Over here (at least in my experience) it isn't taught in so strict terms.
Interesting the differences in teaching in different places.

D

P.s slowly working my way through Stick Technique Bill. Awesome book
 

bigd

Silver Member
Benjamin Podemski of the Philadelphia Orchestra wrote his famous Podemski's Snare Drum Method using the natural method or right hand lead.

So yes it is a known and taight method of instruction.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Interesting. I've never heard of this. All my teachers always stressed that I be able to do nearly any pattern leading with either hand. Everything was practiced both ways and sometimes even with odd stick patterns just to mix it up, or see how it changed the sound.

As a result, I usually just let my body decide how I stick things as I play music. Especially for stuff like fills, it really is helpful being able to break up my hand-work in different ways.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
Yes these are known & taught methods here, but not always necessarily known and taught obviously. If you have to standardize and name stuff, those are it.

And yes, one should be able to play any sticking under the sun such that you can just choose what you're feeling is best at the time.

And for the record, natural sticking does not mean right hand lead. I play/teach everything with both hands leading. If you go through my books or practice along with me on www.drumworkout.com, you'll see that every last thing has a turn around at the end in order to play it off the left as well.

As for the last step being to "throw it all away," I agree, but I'd say instead, "Never think about stickings and just play." Of course the reason we can do that is that we've programmed the nuts and bolts into autopilot ahead of time.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I would add a couple of more varieties of stickings: rudimental, and pseudo-alternating.

Rudimental just means you're using an appropriate open-form rudiment sticking for whatever rhythm you're playing. For example, in this school of thought, a rhythm like "1e&" would be played RRL or LLR, and would be considered to be a three-stroke ruff.

Pseudo-alternating is a label I made up, and it just means that you mostly alternate, but you start every measure, or every two measures, with your right. I've never used it in any kind of systematic way outside of the practice room, working out of Syncopation. It's useful for drumset, since on that instrument you tend to play a lot of right hands on downbeats, and not so many lefts; and the alternating sticking breaks up the rhythm between the drums/cymbals in a more interesting way than natural sticking.

There are some examples of these here, plus a link to another article where they go more in depth about it.

Natural sticking is to me mainly a corps sticking-- it's easier to get 15-20 guys to play exactly in unison using it. You also end up using it on drumset a lot by default, just playing ordinary stuff. It's not considered correct for concert snare drum, at least not where I went to school-- maybe in special cases, though I can't remember any.
 

AlyssaRufo

New member
I’m sorry this is more of a rant than a conversation about natural sticking. But like I just don’t understand!! So I play mallet percussion as well as like and auxiliary percussionist. I’m going to be primarily talking about mallet percussion for this situation/experience. I’m in marching band and I’ve been in it for six years. I’ve been a percussionist since I was in 4th grade. I’m also a lefty who doesn’t like the natural sticking at some points of my band career. So like I understand the basic natural sticking with “right hand lead” and like why people use it. I just don’t understand why people are sooooooo addicted to alwayssss using it. ESPECIALLY IN MARCHING BAND!!!!! I think about things very logically and I try to learn/make things as easy as possible for me and others. Therefore whenever I get music especially for marching band I go through it and try to figure out the best and easiest sticking for whatever I play. There are several times when I’ve suggested things be on the left hand because note accuracy, eliminating horrible note jumps, eliminating cross overs, and much more reasons. Yet people FIGHT ME about it. Like I’ve literally spend my precious time staring at the music to figure out how to play it the easiest. Every single time it kills me to fight about it because I know my logic is like valid and correct but no one agrees with me. The fight usually ends not in my favor which is STUPID because like ahhhhhh I’m right I know I am. So a few days ago it happened AGAIN!! I looked at the music practiced it the way I thought it would be easiest for HOURS. I was starting on my left hand because ther was an octave note jump. We start full ensemble for it and I’m like what hand are you starting on for this part I do on my left hand. And obviously the person is like right. I’m like ughhhhhh not again I knew this would happen. So we talk to the instructor and he’s like um start on ur right hand and to avoid that octave jump with ur right hand just move the note up an octave and there’s less of a problem. And I’m like OMG SERIOUSLY?!??!! Your going to make me change when my method is literally EASIER. Like its not that hard to play 3 1/8 measures of notes starting with your left hand it’s really not. Especially when most of them are 8th notes and there’s 6 total 16th notes in that little part. I’m not a music major but the person who was a music performance major should be able to play that no problem with the left hand. Like if I can do it and ur better than me like why are you refusing. I just literally don’t get one second of it like ahhhhhh. Someone pls help lol.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
In marching band and corps uniformity is important, and also rehearsal/practice time has to be budgeted-- so if you're the one person doing something the smart way, but everyone else already knows how to do it the dumb way, the dumb way is probably going to win, just so everyone doesn't have to relearn their part. And again it's easier to get everyone's timing in unison with natural sticking-- even if the moves aren't the most logical. Also, at times things that seem like the obvious easy way are not the actual best way-- you just might not know the reason for it yet.

But it doesn't matter-- they'll all have to learn to do it your way eventually if they want to continue with percussion outside of marching band.
 
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