My recent lessons have been focused on techniques to help my goal of being more versatile. I want to be able to improvise, to add extra sounds into a groove without it all falling apart as soon as I stray from what I’ve practised. (More about that in a future post.) Also my teacher has been encouraging me to pick up the pace.
Working on these has led me back to working on my grip on the drumsticks.
My grip has improved over the last few months, but when I’m focused on some other aspect (coordination, speed, timing) it gets sloppy. When that happens it affects my ability to play how I’m supposed to, especially when I try to speed up or play softer.
I’m most conscious of my grip when I play double strokes (aka “doubles”, played RR LL RR LL etc). When my grip is good they sound great and when it’s not I can hear it right away. This makes playing doubles a natural exercise for me to do for my grip.
Recently I purchased an app called Rudidrum.
(Demonstration video found on YouTube. That’s not me playing.)
When I first started, my teacher had me playing a lot of rudiments, but learning new ones has been put on hold for now to work on other things. (I still practice rudiments every day – singles, doubles, paradiddle, flam, drag - and others on a weekly basis, or while fidgeting during the day – roll rudiments and the paradiddle rudiments being my favourites.)
The main purpose of the Rudidrum app is to teach rudiments – probably obvious from the name – but I haven’t been using it that way yet.
Rudidrum has a very useful feature that allows you to set the pace to automatically increase every few bars, and I’ve been using this feature for practicing my double strokes. You can set your own parameters for the increase in tempo. I start at about 70/80 bpm (beats per minute) and set it to speed up by 3 bpm every 8 bars. Then I hang in there until I can’t keep up any more.
This means I usually go until it hits 140 bpm, a speed at which all my technique and timing is lost. BUT, it never hurts to try. In fact, I’m up to playing doubles pretty decently in the 120/125 range, which I wouldn’t have tried without the app challenging me to push the pace.
And it’s pretty fun.
I wonder if younger learners develop a proper grip faster. For me, I expect it will take a while to achieve a consistently good grip. Part of the reason is time to develop hand strength and muscle endurance, and the rest is from the effects and other activities like waitressing (a second job I’ve taken on recently) and crochet. It’s coming along though.
So, do you use any drum related apps? And how are you doing with your grip?