Drumming 101: Wrist Technique
If you are new to drumming, you likely use more arm than you have to when playing. Over time, you’ll learn that just as much if not more power can be applied to the drums by wrist movement alone as opposed a full body workout.
I used to play like Animal from the Muppets. I also used to be of the mindset that if you weren’t hitting the skins as hard as you possibly could, you weren’t playing the drums with enough heart. The result of that thinking were broken sticks, busted heads, and bloody, cramped-up hands.
Well, nobody has time for that.
Now, almost twenty years later, I rarely wear myself out while drumming, even if it’s an intense session. Why? Mostly because I use wrists instead of arms when I play. I’m pretty hardheaded; had I learned this lesson after only five years of play, I would be really good today. As it stands, I’m only pretty good.
Where I used to let my arms flail wildly, I now keep them poised in largely the same place over the drum set and let my wrists and hands do most of the work. Doing so has greatly increased my roll speed, it has greatly increased my stamina, and it has given me a vast amount of control over what I’m doing. In short, it works.
Practice on your snare. Poise your arms comfortably so that the tips of both sticks just rest on the head of the snare. Then make up a rhythm (or, if you are familiar with rudiments, use one of those) and do it over and over, concentrating hard on not moving your elbows or shoulders even a tiny bit.
Slowly speed up until you are right at the edge of difficult, and then keep that pace for a while, speeding up again only when you are comfortable at the previous pace. Before long, your sticks will be flying and you’ll be accurately doing what your mind wants to do instead of fumbling the sticks like a caveman and wondering why you aren’t improving.
In a very short time, you will be incorporating wrist movement into all sorts of little techniques that you never considered before when you were trying to murder the drums by bludgeoning. Check out ‘drum technique’ videos on YouTube, and you’ll see what I mean. Pay close attention to the arms and wrists of the drummer you are watching; you will find they are doing all the work.