Stick Secrets: Twirling

Six Classic Twirls That Will Turn You Into A Rock God Overnight

Let’s not pretend. Stick twirling isn’t for everybody. But if you want to stand out from the pack, grab some of the spotlight from your haughty lead singer, and don’t mind being stereotyped as a shameless showoff, stick twirling can be a skill almost as vital as playing in time.

Still not convinced? Well, guess what? Tommy Lee didn’t invent twirling. It’s a tradition that spans even beyond the very origins of the drum set, back to the earliest parade drumming. And it isn’t just restricted to heavy metal dudes covered with skull tattoos, either. Jazz legends like Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Sonny Payne, and Chick Webb used flashy stick tricks to add some extra spiciness to their performances. It sure didn’t take anything away from their reputations.

So why not take a few minutes to master yet another skill with six of the coolest twirls around? Keep in mind that the following examples are backward twirls — and for good reason. After you hit a drum, you can perform a backward twirl during the upstroke. Once the twirl is completed, the stick is positioned high off the drum, which allows you to take a strong second stroke. And even though the following photos show each twirl performed with the right hand, you can (and should) also develop your left hand twirls.

Twirl 1: The Fake Twirl

Step #1: Start from matched grip.

Step #2: Bring your index finger over the stick toward your thumb, so that the stick is between your index and middle fingers.

Step #3: Open your hand so that the palm faces toward you and swing the stick clockwise in a circular motion, moving in the direction of your floor tom.

Step #4: Continue in a smooth manner, rocking the stick between your index and middle fingers.

Practice Tip: Depending on the tempo, I can often bring the stick up and get two or three rotations instead of just one, so be sure to practice both single and multiple rotations.

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