Are you constantly being told to work on your tecnique but don't really understand why? This article is for you.
Throughout the process of learning drums it is highly likely that you will very often be told to make sure your technique is good. You may find yourself asking 'I can play what I need to play, why does my technique matter so much?'. In this article I will discuss why it is worth spending time focusing on this area.
First of all, it will drastically improve the sound of your kit when playing. I will share a quick story to show the effect technique can have on how your playing sounds. I used to help run an open mic night in my home town and from that I've made a lot of drummery friends. Now for a few weeks us drummers were having a blast playing and one night we were sat chatting when the question was raised 'why does the house kit always sound so different when different drummers use it'. It was an interesting question so I made a point of sitting so I could study some other drummers playing the next week. The first thing that jumped out to me was that the hands of one particular guy were twisting very far off to the sides and his strokes on the snare were quite often jumping off centre. This was causing the snare drum to sound far weaker than when other drummers played it. I pointed this out to him and showed him how I thought he could improve his technique. After a minor tantrum he sat at a practice pad and tried what I suggested. A few weeks later I sat and watched him play again. Whilst not perfect, his technique was vastly improved since our conversation and the snare was starting to sound a lot 'fuller.
There is a very simple and logical explanation for why better technique makes a kit sound better. Firstly, a drum needs to be hit with a certain amount of force to get the 'fullest' sound possible from it. If you look at a standard drum you will notice it has two skins on it, one on top and one on the bottom. The sound you hear when a drummer plays is a combination of these two skins vibrating, as well as some sound from the shell. This happens by air being pushed through the drum when the top skin is struck. If you don't hit the top skin hard enough, not enough air is pushed through to move the bottom skin. If you are using bad technique it is quite likely that you aren't getting enough power out of each stroke to force a good amount of air through the shell. If you have good technique it can be almost effortless.
Secondly, the easiest way to get a 'full' sound from a drum is to hit as close to the middle as possible. If you have bad technique you generally aren't as in control of your sticks as you should be. So with each stroke there is a smaller chance of you hitting in the centre. With good technique you will be fully in control, so you can almost guarantee the accuracy of every hit.
Bad technique can also lead to fatigue and even injury when playing. If you aren't striking a drum at the correct angle it may take more power to reach an appropriate volume, which takes more effort. Also, if you use your muscles incorrectly and play a lot, RSI or tendon damage can develop. Whilst this is a real threat, it isn't something to worry about too much, it can take years of very heavy playing for problems as bad as that to develop. Learning good technique early on will prevent this from being an issue.
If you are unsure on what good technique is or aren't sure if you are using your hands and feet correctly it would be very much worth taking a couple of lessons. You can learn a lot from online lessons and books but nothing will beat having someone look at what you are doing directly and providing feedback.