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The 5 Most Important Tips For Rock Drummers

Todd Sucherman  /  Jan 12, 2020

Todd Sucherman, longtime drummer for Styx, is one of today’s top rock drummers. In this video, he shares five tips every rock drummer should know, from stick technique to practice mindset.

1. Mix yourself at the drums

If your drums sound good right in front of you, they’ll sound good in a club or arena. ‘Mix’ your drums at the source! By controlling your sound through dynamic limb independence (ie. being able to control the power and volume of each hand and foot) you aren’t putting it in the hands of someone else. Make the engineer do as little as possible. In rock music, the bass drum and snare drum should have a similar ‘density’ and consistency.

2. Play your hi-hat using the shank-tip technique

When you’re playing regular notes on the hi-hat, alternate with an ‘in and out’ motion (rather than an ‘up and down’ motion) between the shoulder and tip of the stick. It should look and feel like you’re cutting a steak or shooting pool. You’ll get a more musical and articulate sound, kind of like a shaker. You can always opt for the ‘chunky’ sound when it suits the music, but shank-tip should be your home position.

3. Play deep rimshots

You can get the biggest sound out of a snare drum with a rimshot. If you play it further back on the stick – where the stick is fatter – you’ll get a more epic and solid sound. Think about playing the verses with the tip in the center of the drum, and have the tip further up during the choruses.

4. Play with intent

Rock comes with a certain attitude and energy. You’re disrupting the status quo, so harness that bravado if that’s what your music calls for. It comes out in the way you hit the snare drum, in the pressure on the bass drum, and even the way you move behind the kit. Every drummer has their own personality, so think about your vibe and your intent and where you come from. Put heart and soul into how you play the drums.

5. Enjoy the process of improving

If all you can focus on is the finish line, you’ll never deeply internalize what you’re doing. We don’t all have time to practice all day, of course. But if you can get in one hour each day – or even put the sticks in your hands for five minutes a day – you’ll start seeing improvement with the routine. Don’t let your relationship with the drums fade by not practicing every day in some way. If you can spend 30-60 minutes a day where you work on a different idea for 10 minutes, every week you’ll get better in several areas because you’re working on a little piece every day. We are what we choose to practice; that’s the player we will become. The choice is yours!

If you like what you see here, you’ll love Todd’s Rock Drumming Masterclass: a 26-week online course that reviews say is a total game-changer!

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