Revisiting the 'Ancients'

An Online Review of the"Moeller Book

Tommy William Hanson           

    Revisiting the 'Ancients'    

*...There is a 'finger bounce' that can be rendered as concerns the drumstick.  Advanced players know that the best tone that comes from beating a drum, happens when the natural movements (properties) of the stick are utilized.

If the grip is correct, then the stick should rebound somewhat after striking the drum head.  This phenomenon can be used to create up strokes as well as continuous bounces.  In the latter case, it could be thought of as bouncing a ball.

Click Here for Beginning of the Article          ~ VIDEO EXAMPLES BELOW~   


This technique was NOT covered by Moeller (in 1925, how could he 'know' about the delicate finger renditions of a Joe Morello, for example)?  The following is offered for the reader's consideration.  Below are a few examples describing and demonstrating this technique and how it could be accomplished using the 'traditional' open style grips pictured in Moeller's book.

The following (very short clip) is a demonstration of 'finger bouncing' a drumstick.  The video should help to understand the task at hand.  Set your AVI viewer to loop back.   

          Click to view                 (right click to save)


The trick is to hold the stick in one hand and then use a finger on the SAME hand to render the sustained bounce.  If both the right and left hand grips are as Moeller suggests, then the available finger needed to create a sustained bounce, in both cases, is the index finger on either hand.

The next clip shows how to 'finger bounce' the left stick ... remember to adjust your AVI player to loop back (repeat).

          Click to view                 (right click to save)


The following should be mentioned at this point.  Regarding the clip (above) ... showing a drumstick being propelled by bouncing it

In order to be completely 'Moeller-like', one should be able to SEE up strokes as part of the body's movement - which would then aid in propelling the drumstick.  Since this is not the case, the stick bounce may not be considered 'Moeller' by some ('finger control' is not referred to in Moeller's book).


Note:   However, is there a larger 'body movement' (eurhythmics) behind the bouncing taps?   Yes, technically speaking, the finger is initiating the action and the stick is responding

The next 2 clips show finger bouncing the right stick.  In the first AVI, notice the SLOW taps ... so as to reveal the technique, if the 'little finger grip' is used.  Holding the stick in this manner takes TIME ... the little finger is never 'strong' enough at first.

Remember, as stated earlier, learning this grip may take weeks or months to develop.  The little finger has to be 'strong' enough to support the stick without help from the other fingers.  The rest of the hand must be taught to relax and gently close 'around the stick, but very lightly, if touching it at all'  (a Moeller quote).  

The second clip demonstrates the finger bounce at a more normal speed.

Click to Play

(right click to save)




(Not Covered in this Article)



The next AVI shows alternating the right and left hands (moderately slowly) utilizing the finger bounce.  On the right hand, notice the little finger gripping the stick.  Using the rebound from the first stroke, the index finger continues bouncing the stick while the stick is being supported almost entirely by the little finger. 

On the left hand, notice how the third and fourth fingers aid in picking up the stick.  After the initial down stroke, all of the taps following are finger bounces.  Adjust your AVI player to loop back (repeat).


          Click to view                 (right click to save)


Note:  For those drummers who prefer to use the 'thumb fulcrum'... finger bounces can only be possible by using the fingers from underneath the stick to push (bounce) the stick from below.  To Moeller, this would be acceptable and understandable for playing on a cymbal and such ... but not for a vintage 'deep drum' that is being supported at an angle.


The following AVI, demonstrates changing the stick grip while rendering single strokes.

  1. Observe that the sticks, at the beginning of the movie clip, are rendering single strokes using wrists and arms (not the fingers)

  2. Then, the single strokes change ... the sticks are then propelled by the index finger on each hand (finger bouncing each drumstick)

  3. The single strokes change back to using wrists and arms (and not the fingers).

Movement that begins from the wrist and arm is obviously more powerful (loud) than using only fingers.  The drawback is that loud down strokes played with one's full force (creating a single stroke roll, for example) cannot be sustained for very long ... just a few seconds.

Finger bounces do not take as much strength and energy, obviously.  As a result, the bouncing taps can be sustained longer.   Remember to use loop back (repeat) on your AVI player.

           Click to view                 (right click to save)


The next topic is the concept of the 'up stroke'.  This technique (a term found in Moeller's book) is used to play rudiments at a faster speed than if the up stroke were not used.  Today, there is a keen interest to master the multiple taps from a single movement.  Learning the proper execution of the up stroke will accomplish this, because it saves time.  As a result, the player gains speed.  




Copyright 2004-2010  All Rights Reserved, Tommy William Hanson