Friday, May 10, 2019

Stick Control for consistency

Here's an interesting video by Matt Patella, a drummer and teacher who knows a lot about the whole Stone/Morello world of drum technique. He talks about George L. Stone's intentions for his book Stick Control, which Patella says was to develop consistency between the hands.

Watch the video, and I have some comments:

Developing evenness is only one goal for practicing Stone, but with that in mind, there are some things I would do differently from the video. Mainly, I'm pickier about some details:

• Make sure both sticks return to the same height. You can see after 6:45 that the right stick is significantly higher than the left. Watch that carefully and use a mirror if necessary.

• Don't lift the stick at the beginning of the stroke, as is happening during that same segment. Start the stroke by moving the stick directly downward. The entire purpose of this level system is for the stick to end each stroke at the right height for the next stroke. Adding the extra lift serves no purpose; it's a habitual motion that is “noise” in your technique, and it defeats the purpose of practicing the level system, and you should eliminate it. Don't lift.

Note that Patella doesn't do that extra lift at the lower stick heights after 13:00. The extra lift is fatal at that volume— it makes you functionally unable to play the intended volume, and makes your volume tend to creep up generally.

• Don't change heights during an exercise, as is done after 13:00. You can see that he plays higher with on the left handed singles, to accommodate traditional grip finger technique. Your technique is supposed to fit your intended dynamic, not the other way around.

• Personally, I don't even use the so-called full Moeller that so many people use as their generic stroke. It's quite loud if you ever do it on a real drum. If you're playing quite loud, go ahead and practice it. If you're a normal person playing music with other acoustic instruments, you'll be much better off spending most of your time developing your facility in the 1-7" stroke range.

Obviously Mr. Patella knows what he's talking about with regard to Stone, and Morello's technique. And the discrepancies between what I teach and what he teaches gives you an idea of the tolerances allowable in the real world. But I think you'll achieve the stated goal of consistent, even hands more efficiently if you do what I suggest and be more picky about those details.

One other thing: The originally intended purpose of any book is nice to know, but it really doesn't matter. Stick Control is actually valuable because it can be used for a lot of other things. Stone actually invented a basic logic of drumming that has a lot of value beyond just evening out the hands and developing facility.

People tend to think that books are some kind of ironclad practice regimen that, if we just adhere closely enough to it, we will emerge as finished drummers. But it's all just a launching pad for you finding your own thing. Books are nothing more than things to be hacked.

No comments: