The free stroke technique, also known as the moeller method is a way of playing that enables the drummers to let the stick freely move through the hands. This allows the drummer to have greater control over speed, power and control whilst allowing the flexibility required to accenting notes.
I’ll be taking you through the steps that you must take in order the master the free stroke technique and improve your overall playing.
I’ll also be giving you a little history lesson on how the method was devised. This will help you understand how to use the method better.
The free stroke technique was first utilized by military drummers in the 19th century; however it wasn’t officially recognized until the 1930’s. The method itself was first introduced to the world through a man called Sanford Moeller.
He wrote about the technique in his famous drumming book, The Art Of Snare Drumming. The method was popularized by the late Jim Chapin, and is now used by some of the world’s most well respected drummers such as; Jimmy Chamberlin, David Weckl and Tommy Igoe.
The most important part of this method is how the sticks are actually held in the drummers hand. Firstly the drummer must remain lose, but still have full control over the stick. To do this the drummer must find the fulcrum point on the hand.
This is located on the groove between the thumb and index finger. It’s here where the stick must be placed. Once it is in position the drummer should then hit the drum and let the stick naturally rebound backwards. The stick should end up facing the ceiling at a 90 degree angle.
When drummers first start practicing this technique they usually find that the stick slips out of the hand. This is normal and simply requires practice. Eventually this will stop happening as the drummer builds up muscle memory.
The free stroke method can be used on any drum of cymbal on the entire drum kit. To truly learn how to master the technique you should try to play all of the rudiments using the method. This will help you build up greater control over the sticks.
Once they have been mastered on the snare drum or practice pad then it’s recommended that you try to play the rudiments using the method on the whole drum kit. This will give you greater control over the drums themselves.
The moeller method can take years to master to a decent standard. Most drummers learn to use the method their entire lives, constantly improving on their speed, strength and control. Once you have the basics of the method down then you can add your own variations to the technique.
Such as using the rebound of your fingers and using your entire arm to hit the drums louder. Remember not to ignore the cymbals. The cymbals can also utilize the method. Many drummers seem to forget this, but I’d recommend practising the same techniques that you would on a drum kit on each of the cymbals as well.
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