How to Do Tricks With Drumsticks

By Alex E. Borgstrom

You've seen Bonham doing flashy moves with his Vics, and Keith Moon looked like he had propellers attached to his arms...You stared wide-eyed at the screen wondering, "How did they do that?" But doing cool spins and throws with your drumsticks is simply a matter of muscle memory and hand-eye coordination.

The First Hold for a Twisting Roll

Begin by practicing basic rolls in order to warm up your fingers. When you feel ready, take the stick between the middle and ring fingers from your thumb. Roll these two digits in a subtle figure eight pattern, and the stick starts to spin. Increase the speed and the effect is much more dramatic. Some feel more comfortable doing this spin between the index and middle finger. Try both and work on developing the spin with whichever grip you prefer.

The Hold Variation on the Twisting Roll

Try slight variations in the hands for different effects. One slight variation on the simple roll is to move only the index finger, leaving the middle digit to balance the stick. This allows a much faster rotation and a more sweeping "twist" to the motion of the stick.

Throw a stick straight up into the air and let it come straight down for an easy catch. Practice a few times, increasing the height. A twirling throw involves a flick of the wrist before the stick is released. This method is harder to catch. Try aiming your throws so that they will fall on a cymbal. Work this into your songs, but be careful of the height/timing relationship. If you're doing this trick live, remember to control yourself; don't get over-enthusiastic or the timing of the crash might suffer.

The batter and rim must hit the stick at the same time.

Place the stick against the metal edge and the head against the skin. Raise the stick a few inches. Try to bounce the stick off the rim and head, catching it as it rises. This will take concentration and patience to perfect, but once the right angle of contact is realized and repeatable, increasing the height feels natural. This is one of the cooler tricks in that, once perfected, it can be worked into any song, as a major snare or floor tom hit.

Combine all of these motions while playing a simple tune. With snare on the 2 and 4 and bass on the 1 and 3, try to keep time while spinning, twirling and throwing the sticks between hits. Accurately executing tricks while performing is difficult; never try to do something live you haven't practiced extensively as it will likely end in embarrassment.

Warning

Before attempting any of these tricks, remove splinters and smooth wood, if needed.

About the Author

Alex E. Borgstrom is a Bachelor of Arts degree holding graduate living in Brooklyn, New York. He is a marketing, and public relations freelancer as well as a published fiction writer. He is also an assistant audio engineer at Plan 9 studio in Park Slope.