Tricks for loosenning the grip?

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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Even before playing drums I've always suffered from pretty stiff forearms. Be it in my guitar playing where frantic strumming often can make it a challenge to hold the pick right. Or more dangerously, when I did races on dirtbikes, where the need to hang on for dear life induced what is known in those circles as "The death grip" (too much blood constricted in the forearms preventing you from openning the hands so you can't reach your clutch or brakes...) NOT FUN...

When playing live, the adrenalin and overall spike in energy and enthusisam sometimes make me forget about technique and I find myself tensing up on faster/harder songs. Especially on hats (especially on 16ths). I can play a half decent Moeller stroke in the comfort of my own living room when stakes are low, but all that flow can go out the window if, for some reason, we play a bit faster or harder, or if I happen to have a special new cue I don't want to miss, or I drop a stick in an unfortunate passage etc etc. All of these things can induce a gradual locking up of the hands.

I try to be intentional about keeping things loose and take advantage of every small break in the beat to try and open my hands. Like for instance, if there is a crash-and-mute followed by a two quarter notes rest, I will let my stick dangle in my semi-opened right hand for a second. This helps somewhat, but it is quite the mental gymnastics to do that sort of split seconds accounting in parrallel of the actual playing and singing...

How do you guys and gals keep things loosey-goosey?
 

thejohnlec

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I'm a big proponent of French/tympani grip. It facilitates a loose grip and my wrists are in a straighter, more natural position, rather than twisted down toward the drum I'm hitting. It's also easier for me to implement finger control on faster passages. Not sure where you might be with that, but it may be worth a look.

Unrelated to grip, what's your monitor scenario? I've been using in-ears regularly for quite some time. Having my drums in my in-ear mix brings my overall stage volume down because I'm not over-playing to hear my kit the way I want to hear it. Since I'm not overplaying, my overall approach is more relaxed and controlled, and my hands are a big beneficiary of that. A bonus is that I have plenty of gas in the tank for longer shows, since I'm expending less energy to play over a longer period of time. Sound guys love me as well :)

Hope this helps - cheers!
 

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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I'm a big proponent of French/tympani grip. It facilitates a loose grip and my wrists are in a straighter, more natural position, rather than twisted down toward the drum I'm hitting. It's also easier for me to implement finger control on faster passages. Not sure where you might be with that, but it may be worth a look.

Unrelated to grip, what's your monitor scenario? I've been using in-ears regularly for quite some time. Having my drums in my in-ear mix brings my overall stage volume down because I'm not over-playing to hear my kit the way I want to hear it. Since I'm not overplaying, my overall approach is more relaxed and controlled, and my hands are a big beneficiary of that. A bonus is that I have plenty of gas in the tank for longer shows, since I'm expending less energy to play over a longer period of time. Sound guys love me as well :)

Hope this helps - cheers!
Thanks for the answer, I play in-ears as well, although, for all band members, there's pretty much always a 20% increase in velocity from soundcheck during the actual shows.

I've been working hard during the pandemic to decrease my baseline volume of playing. Funny you mention french grip, because this is what Carter McLean uses. I took his Onlin ecourse and rewatch it periodicaly. My finger control isn't anywhere near it should be but this is definitely something I'm trying to improve upon.
 

NobleCooleyNut

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First up drink water before and during the gig - stay well hydrated . Dehydration leads to cramping . Drink water not beer .

Make sure you warm up before the gig - practice some singles and doubles with your hands and feet to get yourself warm .

Make sure your stick size suits your musical direction and room size . Smaller diameter sticks are great for quieter gigs , you don’t want them for concert hall style gigs .
 

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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First up drink water before and during the gig - stay well hydrated . Dehydration leads to cramping . Drink water not beer .

Make sure you warm up before the gig - practice some singles and doubles with your hands and feet to get yourself warm .

Make sure your stick size suits your musical direction and room size . Smaller diameter sticks are great for quieter gigs , you don’t want them for concert hall style gigs .
Point 1&2: I'm trying to discipline myself both on hydration and warm-up (I also sing lead so both are important for that too).

Point 3 is something I might look into, a while ago I've dropped stick sizes from 5Bs to 5As wich were great for low volume rehearsals and recordings wich are basicaly the only 2 things I did in the last year and a half up to a few months ago. But lately most gigs have been in outdoors festivals and good-sized theaters and concert halls, maybe I should revert to bigger sticks. I'll try 5Bs during soundcheck tomorrow and see how they feel.
 

KevinD

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I think if you pay close attention to your breathing ( lots of drumming-breathing exercises out there if you Google them) while playing you‘ll find that you will be tensing up much less and be able to control that.

It takes some practice, but that really helped me in the long run.
 

foxy_shazamtastic

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Stop thinking so much and become a looser human being in general.
This might sound too hippy-dippy to you, but in my experience it’s the real truth beneath all the rationalizing nonsense. Tight muscles come from being afraid. Find out what your afraid of and what’s stressing you out on gigs, and rip that sucker out by the roots.
 

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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I've found that Jack Daniels works nicely. One application ten minutes prior to downbeat and another ten minutes after downbeat.
Would if I could...

I've been Jack Daniel's-free (or any other alcohollic beverages) for the last 21 years. I bet it would work for a bit. But it would also eventually loosen my grip on socially acceptable behavior and I'd run the risk of becoming an arrogant entitled prick again, alienate my bandmates, cheat on my significant other, yada yada yada... Been there and sadly done that. Not going there ever again.

Your mileage may obviously vary :icon_lol:

P.S. this isn't meant as an "alcohol is evil" rant, I'm the only dry guy in my band and I'm ok with people drinking socially and recreationaly. For those without impulse control issues...
 

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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This might sound too hippy-dippy to you, but in my experience it’s the real truth beneath all the rationalizing nonsense. Tight muscles come from being afraid. Find out what your afraid of and what’s stressing you out on gigs, and rip that sucker out by the roots.
You sir, hit it right on the nail... Conquering fear has been the struggle of a lifetime. I have moments on stage where everything seems under control and I can reach a certain level of flow state.

But since drums aren't my primary instrument, I don't have the same ease recovering from small goofs. And those are bound to happen quite often because of my somewhat limited experience on the instrument.

I play in a sorta novelty band made up of 5 lead singers in a "let's switch instruments just for sheets n' giggles" type of deal. It's all very light hearted and fun oriented. People in my market have known me as a singer-songwriter for the best of 2 decades, and for the last 3 or 4 years, I've been playin mostly drums in this band. So it's not like people expect me to be Vinnie Collaiuta, all of a sudden. But I still have my pride, you know, I want my band to sound decent and my pockets to make people wana dance. And although we gather a lot of goodwill and people give us a looooot of leeway, ultimately, I want people to not think "Oh well, they're good, FOR SINGERS" but rather have them think "they're good. Period."

Slowly getting there, one gig at a time. And I'm try to be looser, overall, about the whole shebang.
 

thejohnlec

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Point 3 is something I might look into, a while ago I've dropped stick sizes from 5Bs to 5As wich were great for low volume rehearsals and recordings wich are basicaly the only 2 things I did in the last year and a half up to a few months ago. But lately most gigs have been in outdoors festivals and good-sized theaters and concert halls, maybe I should revert to bigger sticks. I'll try 5Bs during soundcheck tomorrow and see how they feel.
I should have noted in my previous post that I’m a 5B guy 95% of the time. I find it easier to play softer with a heavier stick than it is to play louder with a lighter stick.

Also, part of my pre-show warm up is some light jumping jacks to get the blood flowing. I’m 54, and this has proven to be very beneficial.

Your mileage may vary :)
 

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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I think if you pay close attention to your breathing ( lots of drumming-breathing exercises out there if you Google them) while playing you‘ll find that you will be tensing up much less and be able to control that.

It takes some practice, but that really helped me in the long run.
Yeah, breathing is key, I have to be mindful of it at all times since I also sing while playing, wich adds another layer of complexity to my efforts to stay loose.
 

1988fxlr

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Try bigger diameter sticks with similar weight to what you’re used to. Regal tip is a bit hard to get these days but I always found them a bit lighter than other hickory sticks. Same idea as thicker grips on the dirtbike, they’ll leave your hands in a more relaxed position with the same level of grip.
 

sternerp

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Try bigger diameter sticks with similar weight to what you’re used to. Regal tip is a bit hard to get these days but I always found them a bit lighter than other hickory sticks. Same idea as thicker grips on the dirtbike, they’ll leave your hands in a more relaxed position with the same level of grip.
You’re right! I’m 67, and had been having problems with dropping my right stick when playing the hats. I’ve always preferred Regal Tip Combos and Jazz Sticks. I bought some drumming gloves, and now wear one on my right hand, which is kinda like thicker grips on your dirt bike. I also started using 5A sticks. That combination helps me keep a loose grip without losing my stick.
 

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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I’d look into “push-pull “ it makes shuffles and faster R&B grooves much easier …..
I sometimes alternate between my version of Moeller and my version of Push-Pull. Neither are really up to snuff, it's gonna come with time, I guess.
 


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