Senri Kawaguchi might look smaller than your average drummer, but she sure packs a punch behind the kit. Today she’s at Drumeo to talk about her main tip for drummers looking to add a little more “oomph”‘ to their playing (without actually using more power).
Hi everyone, I’m Senri Kawaguchi. I’d like to talk to you about playing powerfully when you don’t have too much muscle. Let’s call this “How To Play Powerfully Without The Power”.
Drumeo has had a lot of great drummers over the years and almost everyone has been strong built. As you can see, I look like I have no muscles. I am small. There were times when I wanted to work out to get bigger and stronger, but I found it wasn’t easy for me to gain muscles and I have always been a power hitter drummer. If you are a female drummer you might have been trying to play louder but have not been successful. Maybe you have been wondering how to gain volume in your playing but you don’t know how. I want to share my tips with you to hopefully help you play louder and more powerful.
Let’s now talk about hands, arms, and the upper body. My sticks have been custom made by Zildjian. They are a little longer than usual and they have a rubber grip. The reason why they are longer and coated with rubber is that I usually hold them at the end where you can barely see the stick sticking out of the bottom. Holding at the end of the sticks allows you to utilize the gravity to your playing and when it’s done right… [demonstration]
Since I am playing with the weight of the sticks I am not just throwing them down. I am hitting the drums with minimal force. I am almost holding them loosely in order to maximize the weight of the sticks. Actually, I am not using much of the muscles in my upper arms. Think of your arm like a speedy whip.
When I was taking a lesson my teacher instructed me to hold my sticks toward the tip around here. I was trying to hold the sticks where I was told but I realized that if I wanted more volume I needed to place my hands farther back on the stick for more power.
It may take a little bit of time to get used to but please give it a try if this has been an issue for you. The backbeat will sound more solid and powerful. You will play louder and there will be much less stress on your body.
I also get a lot of questions about how I play drum fills so fast. I change my grips during the song especially in the parts I feel like putting fast fills. If you are holding your sticks firmly you might find it harder to change grips quickly while playing. There is a right timing to shift my hands while I’m playing a beat. Let me play an example for you. I will play a fast full during a beat.
I shift my hands towards the tip during the beat. It may not be obvious but I gradually do it. Playing the complex and fast fills with a shorter grip. And I play the high volume big beats with my other grip.
So in order to play powerfully at all times, the most important point is to not hold the sticks in just one position because that limits my ability to play powerfully. I would like you to be mindful of this and to be a flexible drummer both mentally and physically. I hope you can try this out!
With over 40 million views on YouTube, Senri Kawaguchi has swept the world with her incredible musicianship and mastery of the drum-set. Her phenomenal rise to fame has earned her accolades from the drumming community, being selected as one of the top-500 drummers in the world by Drummerworld and as the cover artist for an issue of Drumhead magazine.
Senri has also released three albums as a solo artist and as part of Kiyo*Sen and has worked with a varied selection of world-class musicians such as David Sanborn, Bootsy Collins, Lee Ritenour, E-girls, Philip Seth and Guthrie Govan.
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