Killer Wrist & Finger Combinations

Killer Wrist & Finger Combinations

There are various schools of thought among drummers regarding hand technique. Some advocate the use of wrists while others prefer finger technique. Some drummers even believe that utilizing strictly arm technique is the way to go. As I see it, each of these techniques has a valid application and that's why my Tension-Free System combines all three. I use arms when I need to play at high volume levels, fingers when I want extreme speed, and wrists or a combination of wrists, arms, and fingers the rest of the time.

The exercises that follow are designed to help you develop the ability to switch seamlessly between wrists and fingers while playing at speeds that are appropriate for each technique. With regular practice your muscle memory will start to kick in and you won't have to consciously think about switching between techniques. It will simply happen by itself. Let’s get to work!

Practice Key

1. Reversing sticking by starting with the left.

2. Play the wrist portion once as is but repeat the finger portion two or more times to build speed and endurance.

Look at the included music notation or watch the video and you’ll notice that the "wrist" portion of each exercise consists of rhythmic patterns that are about half the speed as those in the finger portion. I created the exercises purposely this way so you could understand my approach to the application of wrists (for slower speeds) and fingers (for faster speeds).

For Further Study

As a frame of reference for you, if you were to loop the second measure (the finger portion) of Ex. 2 repeatedly for one minute at the “fast” tempo shown on the video, which is quarter note at 140 bpm, you would be playing single strokes at 1,120 bpm! This is useful if you want to keep track of the progress of your speed so you can push it to the limit and beyond. Once you learn the exercises as written, you can increase both your speed and endurance by playing the wrist portion of each exercise as written while increasing the number of times you repeat the finger portion. First, start with only one repetition, then two, and so on. But remember, as you increase your speed and endurance, listen carefully to what you are playing to make certain that it’s accurate and precise. Also make sure that tension is not beginning to creep in! Speed with tension and/or without precision is not where it's at!

Have fun with this and I’ll catch you next month.

For questions on this month’s Speed Lesson, you can contact me at

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