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You may already have the skills to triple your hand speed in one day – you just need to know how to use them.

The human body can only go so fast. But drummers like a good challenge, right?

Russ Miller studied with Jim Chapin and Freddie Gruber, two of Sanford Moeller’s protégés. Moeller was a pioneer in standardizing movements – notably the ‘whip’ – that allow drummers to play with more efficiency.

Russ often hears from drummers who are concerned that they’ve ‘hit the ceiling’ physically, or that they don’t feel they’re advancing sonically. In this video, Russ dares you to change the way you think about striking the drums, and shows you a few foundational concepts of the Moeller technique that will address both of these common issues.

There’s only so much movement you can achieve with one downstroke. You need to use the mechanics within that stroke to not only execute a higher number of notes, but better dynamics and articulation.

With the Moeller technique, you can create multiple notes with one movement. The key is controlling the stick height after the rebound, and leading the ‘whipping’ motion with your elbow. Try to keep your palms facing down for the most power.

There are three types of note that you need to know in this lesson:

  • The downward note (after which you let the stick rebound slightly)
  • The finger note/tap
  • The upward note (as Jim Chapin used to tell Russ, imagine pulling the stick away like you just put your finger on a hot burner)

The three-in-one formula is down, tap, up. With a whip motion, the power ends up coming from the stick’s tip. When you have to bring up your stick after every hit, you can only go so fast. This is why you need to keep the stick height low for the second and third hits.

While you stay relaxed and comfortable, here are three exercises to try while playing with less effort:

Exercise 1 (11:05) – The Basics

Turn on a metronome subdividing triplets at 60 BPM. Repeat after Russ: down tap up, down tap up. Not unlike a video game, right?

Exercise 2 (12:11) – Alternating Threes

In this exercise, you play 3, 6, 9, and 12 on each hand. That means 3 down-tap-ups on one hand, then 3 down-tap-ups on the other hand. You’ll then do it 6 times on the first hand, then 6 on the other hand, and so on with 9 and 12.

Exercise 3A (13:00) – Interplay/Rolls 1

Here’s where you’ll learn how to incorporate the movement into a roll. Imagine every down stroke is an accent: down right, down left, tap right, tap left, up right, up left. Buddy Rich used to refer to the visuals of this as ‘stirring the soup’.

Exercise 3B (14:20) – Interplay/Rolls 2

Now you’ll combine finger technique (on your left hand) and the Moeller technique (on your right hand). These are the moves: down on the right hand, fingers only on the left, tap right, fingers left, up right, fingers left. With this choreography, the accent is only on the first note. You can do this exercise in groups of 6 or 8.

Practice along with the video and don’t forget to keep track of your progress as you go through these exercises. Once you get them down, you’ll be able to get more speed and natural dynamics while lightening up your playing. It’ll be easier to play faster and you’ll sound better at the same time.

Voila: you can now play three notes where you were playing one note before! It’s amazing how many possibilities you can unlock with just one new technique.

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