Practicing on a Pillow

petey

Member
Anyone do this? I'm not sure it's for me. I've been trying it many times lately to increase my hand speed for some Snare Drumming Performances with some other drummers that I've been asked to do next month and I do feel the burning in my arms but whenever I take my top clean speed on the pillow to the actual snare drum, I can't go as fast. Making that transition to the harder surface is a challenge; it's like I have to start all over from a slower speed once i'm on the actual snare. Makes me think I should just stick to the snare drum or practice pad. I'm fairly fast but I'd like to be a tad faster to keep up with the youngsters :)

Anyone practice on a pillow?
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
I occasionally practice on a pillow but I prefer a practice pad. Sticks don't bounce off a pillow that well.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Have done in the past. Always found it to be a good wrist workout. Now days I prefer to use a Moongel practice pad when I want to work on a surface that offers little to no rebound. I alternate between the Moongel pad and a standard gum rubber pad all the time.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
A key component of hand speed is controlling the rebound off the surface. I've never known pillows to have any rebound. I'd be very careful to make certain that no harm is being done to your hands over time by playing on a pillow. Bad technique can lead to injury.
Best of luck in your pursuit.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I practiced with a pillow 50 years ago. It was used to develop proper arm, wrist and finger technique. It helped teach me how to lift the stick off the drum head after the hit.
And it was only used when I first started to learn how to play as a practice tool off and on for a couple of years. It teaches your hands and arms what to do without drum head rebound.

It was never used to increase speed. It is a great teaching tool for the beginner, but I think many people have the wrong idea of the benefits of practicing on a pillow.

I don't think it will help you increase your speed and especially not in only one month.

.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
I can see the logic behind it, but in practice (sorry) I'm not in favour of it. I can play for hours on a pad or drum without fatigue, but after just a couple of minutes practising on a pillow my wrists ache - and not in a way that feels as if any good is being done to them. If my wrists are wrecked, I'm not even going to be able to play slowly, let alone be able to build up speed!
 

petey

Member
Thanks for the insight. I'm not expecting miracles, that i'm going to be able to go supersonic after working for only a month but was hoping to get a good workout and I read that Dennis Chambers uses a pillow that and he that he got it from Buddy Rich and Dennis went on to say that it helped with his control and speed around the kit. I'm not even a molecule the quickness of Chambers or Rich but I liked the sound of it, so I tried it.

Magenta, I'm with you, My wrists ache after I do pillow work. Just simple single strokes and rudiments. I think i'm doing more harm than good and I don't want any wrist problems.

I'm sticking to the practice pad, forget the pillow. Rebound! Rebound!

Thanks
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
A key component of hand speed is controlling the rebound off the surface. I've never known pillows to have any rebound.
Just as a note here, "hand speed" is not the only goal when working on pads and even pillows. Secondly, what works on the rebound from a snare drum is going to work entirely differently when played on a floor tom. For this reason, it is important to practice control as well as just speed. By removing all rebound, you're giving your hands and wrists some of the best practice you can, because your hands are controlling every aspect of the stroke.

I'd be very careful to make certain that no harm is being done to your hands over time by playing on a pillow.
On the contrary, the way a pillow absorbs all the energy is easier on our hands and wrists.

Bad technique can lead to injury.
Sure, but practicing your strokes on a pillow promotes good technique, and more full control over your strokes. If you can play a good double stroke roll on a pillow, you should have no problem bringing that to any part of the kit.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I can see the logic behind it, but in practice (sorry) I'm not in favour of it. I can play for hours on a pad or drum without fatigue, but after just a couple of minutes practising on a pillow my wrists ache - and not in a way that feels as if any good is being done to them. If my wrists are wrecked, I'm not even going to be able to play slowly, let alone be able to build up speed!
That's odd. I'd wager you probably need to relax your hands a wrists a bit more, but that's hard to actually say without seeing. Even when using a pillow, the actual movement I see in my wrist is pretty limited, but I do incorporate a good amount of fingers in my lower rebound/no rebound strokes.
 

brady

Platinum Member
I've practiced on a pillow a few times. An old teacher of mine used to have me do that. I never really saw much improvement that I could relate directly to playing on a pillow.

A slightly similar technique, but I think a much more effective use of your time, would be to play rudiments with brushes. If you can nail clean doubles with a pair of brushes, you have pretty good hands.
 

petey

Member
That's odd. I'd wager you probably need to relax your hands a wrists a bit more, but that's hard to actually say without seeing. Even when using a pillow, the actual movement I see in my wrist is pretty limited, but I do incorporate a good amount of fingers in my lower rebound/no rebound strokes.
I've never been one of those guys that used a lot of 'fingers' when playing strokes. I have some wrist in there for sure. I see some drummers with flying fingers executing some fast rolls but I never developed that, I use a combo of finger force with wrist to get my rolls going.

Whenever I've used solely the Pillow (and i've been working on the pillow about a month now, everyday for a half hour) it does warm me up and I feel loose say for a performance but I notice my wrists are a bit sore the next morning.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I think it's a great exercise. I wouldn't necessarily recommend that anyone else follow my path, but it was great for me. I started out learning a drum corps-styled technique and grip that emphasized wrist strokes for everything, including diddles and rolls. I incorporated finger techniques much later, but I still had that strong foundation. As a result, I can play rudiments on any surface; for instance, doubles on a floor tom are not a problem.

Of course you can't play as fast, and learning to deal with and use rebound to your advantage is an essential skill. But I'm not advocating practicing on a pillow as a substitute for those things, but rather as a supplement to them.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I
A slightly similar technique, but I think a much more effective use of your time, would be to play rudiments with brushes. If you can nail clean doubles with a pair of brushes, you have pretty good hands.
Same concept, and great point. Brushes actually might be even better, as you'd get some "resistance" in both up and downstroke, since the wires will trail the arc of the stick.

There's also some practice pads out there that have low rebound properties for just this reason.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
That's odd. I'd wager you probably need to relax your hands a wrists a bit more, but that's hard to actually say without seeing. Even when using a pillow, the actual movement I see in my wrist is pretty limited, but I do incorporate a good amount of fingers in my lower rebound/no rebound strokes.
I do believe the good Doctor is absolutely right. It's been a long time since I practised on a pillow and in the intervening period, my technique has evidently improved: I've just had a go now, and there was no pain. Hands and wrists were indeed very relaxed and I was using my fingers a lot.

A slightly similar technique, but I think a much more effective use of your time, would be to play rudiments with brushes. If you can nail clean doubles with a pair of brushes, you have pretty good hands.
Argh. This is my next task. Again it's something I haven't tried for ages, because I just couldn't do it.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I do believe the good Doctor is absolutely right. It's been a long time since I practised on a pillow and in the intervening period, my technique has evidently improved: I've just had a go now, and there was no pain. Hands and wrists were indeed very relaxed and I was using my fingers a lot.
Awesome. By far the best thing about doing this is the sense of freedom I get from it. When I do low/no rebound practice for a good while, then go back to the kit, it feels totally effortless on pretty much every playing surface. The sense of total freedom to be able to play whatever I want on any drum is an amazing feeling. If you can do it on a pillow, a drum set is no sweat.

Kind of like when a ball player swings his bat around with a weight on it while he waits for his at-bat. Once you take the weight off, all of a sudden the bat itself feels weightless and like you don't need much effort to swing it.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Even though I agree with the good Dr. on a many posts here, I still stand firm in my statement. It can lead to injury over time if it's not monitored by an experienced player. The different surfaces we play on when practicing can indeed develop not only speed, but control and power and yes even finesse. However the strain can wreck the wrists eventually due to the need of tightening the muscles to pull out of the pillow.

Get some different pads to play on or a pair of the "chop-builder" sticks with a rubber ball tip if you want to change to a hard surface.

P.S. This has been a debated subject for the last 100 years or so from what I understand.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Even though I agree with the good Dr. on a many posts here, I still stand firm in my statement. It can lead to injury over time if it's not monitored by an experienced player. The different surfaces we play on when practicing can indeed develop not only speed, but control and power and yes even finesse. However the strain can wreck the wrists eventually due to the need of tightening the muscles to pull out of the pillow.

Get some different pads to play on or a pair of the "chop-builder" sticks with a rubber ball tip if you want to change to a hard surface.

P.S. This has been a debated subject for the last 100 years or so from what I understand.
Playing incorrectly on ANY surface can cause injury. If you're doing it wrong, playing on the gummiest most rebound-y pad you can find will still end up hurting you. I'm not sure why you keep saying these weird things, but using your muscles to move your wrist is not bad for them. It just isn't based on medical science. If you feel strain from picking up a tiny drum stick, you're not doing it right. We aren't hyper-extending, or stressing the joint. My last teacher has been playing for 30 years, and does rudiment practice on both a pillow and pads every-single-day as part of a strict routine. Tons of the best drummers on the planet do, too.

And secondly, the skill of not using rebound is just as important as using it is. Newer players get this wrong all the time. If you want full control around the kit at all speeds and velocities, that comes from fully controlling the stick in certain situations, both the up and down-stroke. In some cases, the rebound is in fact working against you.

If you really want to argue that practicing on a pillow won't help you, then fine. Debate it all you want. Correctly playing the drums or even playing proper strokes on a pillow shouldn't hurt. If you're straining to play on a pillow, you're just plain doing it wrong, and your wrists/fingers/technique are in terrible shape.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Playing incorrectly on ANY surface can cause injury. If you're doing it wrong, playing on the gummiest most rebound-y pad you can find will still end up hurting you. I'm not sure why you keep saying these weird things, but using your muscles to move your wrist is not bad for them. It just isn't based on medical science. If you feel strain from picking up a tiny drum stick, you're not doing it right. We aren't hyper-extending, or stressing the joint. My last teacher has been playing for 30 years, and does rudiment practice on both a pillow and pads every-single-day as part of a strict routine. Tons of the best drummers on the planet do, too.

And secondly, the skill of not using rebound is just as important as using it is. Newer players get this wrong all the time. If you want full control around the kit at all speeds and velocities, that comes from fully controlling the stick in certain situations, both the up and down-stroke. In some cases, the rebound is in fact working against you.

If you really want to argue that practicing on a pillow won't help you, then fine. Debate it all you want. Correctly playing the drums or even playing proper strokes on a pillow shouldn't hurt. If you're straining to play on a pillow, you're just plain doing it wrong, and your wrists/fingers/technique are in terrible shape.
Yep !

I agree with you.

Practicing on a pillow is more work for your arms, wrists and fingers. So you will get tired sooner. Getting a good workout is one of the reasons for doing it.

.

.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Dear Dr. I'm not sure why you consider my thoughts on this "weird" but let's just agree to disagree shall we?
I will say no-more on this matter.
To the OP- Best of luck in your pursuit of technique.
 
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