Slow practice really works

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
So for the last couple months I’ve been playing things like the Morello Stone Killer exercise, the money beat, etc. really, REALLY slowly, with big motions. I raise my arms all the way above my head between notes. I’m usually playing the the Stone Killer about one note=20 bpm. And the money beat about 8th note=50. And I have to say, it’s improved my speed and control better than anything else I’ve ever done.
 

Noisy

Well-known member
Great! I understand slow practice but I’m not sure of the benefits of arms above the head. When you speed up, do you continue to use larger arm motions than before? I’m just curious of the training effects of the arms above the head and large arm movements.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Playing slowly is also an exercise in discipline. Blast beats are often showered with praise as feats of physical glory, but slow beats require great concentration and patience. Some of the most trying work I've done over the years has involved patterns in 3/4 or 6/8 at extremely slow tempos. Spread-out notes are elusive. You have to keep your head on track to prevent them from escaping you. The empty space offers tempting diversions. Resistance takes skill.
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
So for the last couple months I’ve been playing things like the Morello Stone Killer exercise, the money beat, etc. really, REALLY slowly, with big motions. I raise my arms all the way above my head between notes. I’m usually playing the the Stone Killer about one note=20 bpm. And the money beat about 8th note=50. And I have to say, it’s improved my speed and control better than anything else I’ve ever done.
I'm having images of Tommy Aldridge here lol. What benefit does raising your hands "all the way" above your head help with speed?

Do you have a video of what you're doing? I'm interested what this looks like in practice as this isn't computing with me.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I'm having images of Tommy Aldridge here lol. What benefit does raising your hands "all the way" above your head help with speed?

Do you have a video of what you're doing? I'm interested what this looks like in practice as this isn't computing with me.
I got the idea from an account I read of old Army rope drum training.

Raising your arms all the way above your head (my hands end up above my actual head) and moving very, very slowly helps you find any inefficient motion in your stroke. Inefficient motion is what slows you down at higher speeds.
 

force3005

Silver Member
Playing slow helps with timing and note placement. It's not as easy as it sounds. At first you really have to concentrate playing slow. You might want to go even slower S-P-S.

EDIT: Also try whole, half, quarter, trips and sixteenth (single & double stroke) at 50bpm. Do a two count of trips then sixteenths then quarters and so on for five minutes clean for two days then move up in speed. Mix it up anyway you want and so on.
 
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Noisy

Well-known member
I got the idea from an account I read of old Army rope drum training.

Raising your arms all the way above your head (my hands end up above my actual head) and moving very, very slowly helps you find any inefficient motion in your stroke. Inefficient motion is what slows you down at higher speeds.
I experimented with this over a few days.

There are two kinds of motions that I started to gravitate toward. One is a slightly circular motion, similar to that demonstrated as a Moeller whip motion. The second is a direct and straight up/down karate-chop motion. Either way, the elbow’s motion seems pretty important. With the straight down motion, leading with the elbow dropping straight down seems to be the fastest and most efficient. The circular version seemed to have more potential for power.

I worked my versions by keeping the click slow and trying slow motions and also a fast motion here and there. The fast motion kept the stick over the pad until just before the click was going to happen. Then, I would move my hand overhead and back down as fast as possible to coincide the stick strike with the click. I did both fast and slow to find out if these slow motions were realistically more efficient.

These are just some observations. I don’t want to overdo the hard strikes so I’ll probably stick with slow motions and use this method as a shoulder mobility exercise for now and see what happens over time.

edit: I used a 40 bpm metronome click for timing. This post just investigated the efficiency of movement portion.
 
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johnwesley

Silver Member
Playing in time slowly is an extremely good exercise and takes unbridled concentration. With speed you can cover mistakes easily, but playing slow.....well....miss a beat and everyone hears it. I usually play 3/4 time and 6/8 time as warm up. It helps get my head into playing precise. Playing slow and in time is way harder than playing fast. Good for you Mr Push Pull Stroke.
 

Noisy

Well-known member
Just some further observations...
It took about one week for my shoulders to get used to moving up above my head at slow speed. It felt like mostly a shoulder exercise at first. Now, multiple 15 minute runs are no big deal.

I am assuming the technique is to make the entire range of motion at about the same slow speed and not ever stop moving the hand/arm.

An independence defect that I found during this exercise is that when I double stroke on one hand, there is a slight pause in the movement in the other arm (as it slowly moves in its own arc). I will continue to work on that. By using a technique of not stopping the other arm at any time during the super slow movement, I was able to detect the involuntary pause.

I am not working on difficult hand technique in slow motion yet so while I am making slow arm movements (with single and double strokes), I work both feet heel up and use good posture as a parallel (partial independence) exercise.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
So for the last couple months I’ve been playing things like the Morello Stone Killer exercise, the money beat, etc. really, REALLY slowly, with big motions. I raise my arms all the way above my head between notes. I’m usually playing the the Stone Killer about one note=20 bpm. And the money beat about 8th note=50. And I have to say, it’s improved my speed and control better than anything else I’ve ever done.
Playing slowly is also an exercise in discipline. Blast beats are often showered with praise as feats of physical glory, but slow beats require great concentration and patience. Some of the most trying work I've done over the years has involved patterns in 3/4 or 6/8 at extremely slow tempos. Spread-out notes are elusive. You have to keep your head on track to prevent them from escaping you. The empty space offers tempting diversions. Resistance takes skill.
I have been working on this concept with my high school marching drummers specifically for the past 7-8 years....we spend a lot of time in the beginning on learning how to control the space between the stick and the drum (aka the space in between beats) with muscle control guided by subdivision. We start some of the basic exercises around 90 to get them burned in, then instead of speeding up, I slow down. Explaining that groove is important first....space control....and muscular control in space...

I then explain that it will be easier to execute faster stuff cleaner, more relaxed, and with a groove, which will give us a different sound than most drumlines....but the more important thing I want them to learn is how space creates groove, and how energy flow thought the muscle groups helps us play "more buttery and smooth" at faster tempos. They get to hear my story about Peter Erskine explaining how "groove is in the space between the notes" all the time.

I also personally am trying to take this concept - which I have done for a long time - and apply it to faster beats...in fact, blast beats to be exact. I personally think that if you can hear the space in a blast beat, it can have groove....
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I have been working on this concept with my high school marching drummers specifically for the past 7-8 years....we spend a lot of time in the beginning on learning how to control the space between the stick and the drum (aka the space in between beats) with muscle control guided by subdivision. We start some of the basic exercises around 90 to get them burned in, then instead of speeding up, I slow down. Explaining that groove is important first....space control....and muscular control in space...

I then explain that it will be easier to execute faster stuff cleaner, more relaxed, and with a groove, which will give us a different sound than most drumlines....but the more important thing I want them to learn is how space creates groove, and how energy flow thought the muscle groups helps us play "more buttery and smooth" at faster tempos. They get to hear my story about Peter Erskine explaining how "groove is in the space between the notes" all the time.

I also personally am trying to take this concept - which I have done for a long time - and apply it to faster beats...in fact, blast beats to be exact. I personally think that if you can hear the space in a blast beat, it can have groove....
I’m surprised you can get anyone under age 20 or so to listen to the whole concept. Young people tend to be pretty impatient
 

beatdat

Senior Member
They get to hear my story about Peter Erskine explaining how "groove is in the space between the notes" all the time.
Like most things in life, there's both an art and a science to drumming; but where science dictates what you do, art lies in what you don't. My teacher told me early on that it's not what you play, but how you play it - anything can, and should, groove. It took me a long time for to get that, and it's taking me just as long to work on it.

I’m surprised you can get anyone under age 20 or so to listen to the whole concept. Young people tend to be pretty impatient
Some older people, too.

Slow practice and high stick heights have formed the bulk of my practice in the last year, but I'm curious to know what type of stroke you're using at the tempos you're talking about. Are you playing high Moeller strokes, or more of an exaggerated free-stroke? More specifically, I could ask what are your elbows doing when you practice this?
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Slow practice and high stick heights have formed the bulk of my practice in the last year, but I'm curious to know what type of stroke you're using at the tempos you're talking about. Are you playing high Moeller strokes, or more of an exaggerated free-stroke? More specifically, I could ask what are your elbows doing when you practice this?
I’m usually either doing a slow loop above my head prior to dropping straight down, or just dropping straight down from above my head, more or less like a free stroke. On the upstroke it’s either elbow lead, like a Moeller whip upstroke, or just a really big, slow free stroke rebound, like you said.

Honestly, though, at the tempos I’m doing these at, it’s like slow-motion dance choreography, the only time I move quickly is right before I strike the drumhead. I’m probably around 10-12 bpm, most days. That’s a lot of time to get from above your head to the drumhead and back again. I usually coordinate it with my breath, though not always, like one breath every note.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I’m surprised you can get anyone under age 20 or so to listen to the whole concept. Young people tend to be pretty impatient
I don't give them a choice...I am also lucky to start them in 5th grade, and sort of get the wheels in motion that young, before a lot of (mis) conceptions of drumming are burned in. We start slow - with 8 on a hand - and I start talking about muscle group manipulation and energy transfer right away. How motion should be fluid, and continuous motion is a result of rebound as well...we rarely ever go past 90bpm that first year....then I show them videos of great players playing, and explain that they all started the same way

I also use tons of sports movement analogies that usually they can directly relate to....

it is a 30year developed system that is now in "full swing"....I am pretty lucky that I get them in this way....
 

Icetech

Gold Member
Works for sure.. The first thing i was taught where i take lessons is to slow a beat down til you can hit every stroke perfect then do it slow til it's locked in and speed will come. It's been years and i still use this to this day.. Some beats so slow you can't tell they are a beat then 10 mins later.. smoother and fast :)

Practice doesn't make perfect.. practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect :)
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
A prudent system. Options are overwhelming to beginners. The right to choose should be earned through experience and wisdom. We like to ignore that fact in the "whatever feels good" world we've forged, but it's a timeless truth nevertheless.
yeah...none of my kids live in a world of "whatever feels good works" until they have enough tools in the tool box to have that happen and not be detrimental to their overall success....the first thing I cover in my new parents meeting is how I teach old school....not everyone gets a trophy, and there will be constructive criticism in our activity. Everyone will not always leave feeling "hunky dory" or "peachy". Especially if they are not doing the work consistently. I tell the kids I will never lie to them and tell them they are doing great when they aren't...that is not fair to them in so many ways. There are boundaries at first, and then we expand them. They know this from minute one, and I also say "if you do not think that you or your child can exist in this kind of world, then I would possibly not consider doing this activity"...they know from the start where the expectation is.

In 30 years, I have only had 2 families decide to not be a part of our little world....I have actually had most parents thank me for "exposing their kids to some discipline"....
 
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