As we play a lot of things are going on. We are either constantly moving from one instrument to the next, or playing complicated rhythms. In any case, relaxation is key to making it easier to accomplish the things we want. Therefore, removing any unnecessary movement or tension will help streamline your playing.
Common Tension Areas
Relaxation helps maximize the rebound of the stick, and unnecessary tension in any part of the body will hinder it. The Free Stroke is our example of how much rebound there actually is. We must become familiar with this feel and generate all of our strokes from it, going for as much rebound as possible, letting the stick do all the work. Our hands are merely guiding it to a certain destination at a certain speed and time.
The Free Stroke
Stay loose and let the stick rest in the hand (like a small pet)
Feel the complete weight of the stick (as heavy as possible)
Lift from the back of the hand/Let go from the back of the hand
Let stick rebound back up *WHILE HAND STAYS DOWN*
Once #4 is comfortable, follow the stick back up
What is the most comfortable, natural, easiest way to move? Throughout each part of the stroke, finding the path of least resistance makes playing easier, allowing the rebound to be exploited. This can also be a way to find and stop habits that could be detrimental in the long run. Unless we allow the stick to rebound and do the work, our body will absorb it and we will overwork, causing multiple problems (i.e. tendinitis, carpal tunnel, etc.)
Stroke Types (Up, Down, Taps, Full) [Ex. 1-7]
Finger Strokes [Ex. 1-3]
Multiple Bounce (Double/Triple Stroke, Moeller Stroke) [Ex. 8-14]
Forearm Moeller Whip [Ex. 4-10]
Elbow Moeller Whip [Ex. 4-10]
Shoulder Moeller Whip [Ex. 5-8]
“It doesn’t have to stop there”
By simplifying our movements, removing unnecessary tension, and allowing the stick to rebound and do to the work, not only will our technical facility improve, but our careers will last longer. Stay loose, throw the stick, let it bounce, follow it through, repeat. Doing these things will make anything we play that much better.