By: Ryan Scottie
I’ve only ever had two drum teachers in my life and I wouldn’t even take my first formal “drum lesson” until I was four years into performing. At that point, I’d unfortunately been developing some bad habits because I had no previous formal training. I was all energy and zero control. Guaranteed after every performance I’d be soaked in my own sweat from putting out so much energy. It became normal for me to ditch my shirt after the first song because I began to ruin shirts left and right. At the time I would say that it’s for stage presence. But there was a point in reflection where I finally acknowledged that I was wasting so much energy. I would change how I approach performing with the intention of making it look effortless rather than savagely beating my drums and cymbals with no remorse for the “encouraged” decibel restriction.
I was first introduced to “the bounce” when I was a sophomore in college. My mentor, Frankie Donaldson, had such a relaxed approach to teaching that it never felt like a “class” for a college credit. Instead, his method of relating music to life felt both humbling and inspiring. It showed me as talented as I believed myself to be that I could forever be a student if I choose to. The choice was the humbling part, illuminating to me that there are those that cut themselves off from growth unwilling to learn. Before Frankie ever taught me a beat he addressed my grip and had to first recognize that I needed to unlearn everything I’d taught myself about how to strike the drums.
This was the most challenging point for me because it truly felt like I was starting from scratch after already performing for hundred’s in my short high school stretch. My ego with any other mentor would have surly folded to insecurity or that “I was too good for this”. But Frankie met me with patience, passion, and sincere encouragement that gave me those same qualities in my home practice.
The result was a huge shift in how I would practice and prioritize what I believed a great drummer was. The bounce is just the first name I was given to what is really the optimal grip for your drumming. To make sense of all this we have to get a bit more scientific but I’ll do my very best to keep it simple.
The main grip of your drumstick should be between your thumb and your pointer finger. The placement of this varies depending on your hand structure (I happen to have quite the hitchhiker thumbs and that absolutely affects my grip) The optimal pivot point of the lever, or in our case, drumstick is known as the fulcrum. Knowing your fulcrum is essential to finding an optimal technique to your playing.
If you find that your grip of the stick is near the bottom it’s a usual sign of squeezing too hard with your middle, ring, and pinky fingers. Instead, much more efficient use of those fingers is better used to control the upstroke on double strokes. You can see this more closely in one of my Video Lessons.
Signs Your Technique Can Improve:
- Blisters in your fingers
- Cramping in your hands
- Feeling fatigued after a short time of playing
Recently I had the privilege of playing to a crowd of over a thousand people and with that much energy in the venue, it was that much more important that I properly prepare and warm up with rudiments before my set. If I were to just sit and go without any warm-up its all but guaranteed that I’d have cramps in my hands after the first song from playing too hard. Technique for me now means that I am conscious of how efficient I can be when playing because another lesson I learned from Frankie was that, “The more effortless something looks, the more impressive it’s received.”
Ryan Scottie is an Endorsed Approach Artist with Collision Drumsticks.
Based out of Los Angeles, CA, USA, Ryan is a drummer that we know and trust. Ryan has been performing professionally with IAMGENRE and Devon Kay & The Solutions. Within that time, he’s gained experience in a multitude of genres and diversify his playing by performing in RnB, Punk, Pop, Latin and Hip Hop acts across the globe! He’s had the pleasure to have performed in numerous national and international tours including notables like the Van’s Warped Tour.
To learn more from Ryan himself, here’s how you can get in touch: