The key to good double strokes is let the stick do the work! At slower speeds or longer note values, the arms are doing a lot of the work; as you pick up the tempo, the wrists and fingers start to work.
In order for the wrists and fingers to work/ stroke properly at higher speeds, the BOUNCE is one of the most important things. Bounce is determined by important factors such as grip, position and strength of stroke.
Grip: A loose grip between the index finger and thumb allows for good double strokes, whilst maintaining control. Imagine holding a bird in your hand; you don’t want to squeeze it too tightly, but you don’t want it to fly away either.
Position: The fulcrum has to be correct, i.e. not holding the stick too far up and not too far down.
Strength of stroke: You have to give enough power in the stroke to allow for a decent bounce. This can be achieved by flicking the wrists.
Double Strokes Exercises
1) Firstly see how many times you can let the stick bounce on its own. If your hands/ arms are involved after the first motion, then it is likely wrong. Allow the stick to bounce as high as possible. Do this with both your right and left – don’t neglect the weaker hand.
2) Concentrate now on two decent strokes with the same motion, i.e. 1 stroke initially from the arm/ wrist/ fingers and the second being a natural bounce. The hand should hardly (or not at all) move after the first stroke. Perfect this until you can do double strokes on each hand. A good exercise is to stick with 1 hand, training yourself to do double strokes without breaking time (1+2+3+4+ all with the same hand, then switch).
3) This takes a lot of time and patience, but after you become comfortable with it, we can increase speed using our 3rd, 4th and 5th fingers. On the second stroke, i.e. the stroke of the natural bounce (letting the stick do the work), use these fingers to strengthen this hit. As the stick is going down for the second stroke, bring the fingers up to ‘snap’ the stick down on the pad. This can be tricky at first, but is well worth the practice if you wish to perform solid double strokes on your tom-toms as well as your snare.
4) Paradiddles, inverted paradiddles, paradiddle-diddles and other variations all help improve your double strokes.
The last and possibly most important point on performing double stroke, is do not neglect your weaker hand! The root cause of many slack double strokes is the lack of strength in the weaker hand. This rule applies also for single strokes, paradiddles, flams and other important rudiments.
Part of the series of drum tips. Written by drum tutor James. Drum lessons are available at Booths Music in Bolton town centre on a daily basis. Please ring 01204 522908 for more details or enquire in the form below.
See also: Paradiddle Exercises for Beginners.
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