Follow That Sound – a journey in technique (part 3)

In trying to document my technical and musical journey, I’ve thought about all of the things I’ve learned and practiced, and how that has influenced me. I’d like to talk about my progression in hand technique some more in this article, and specifically how I’ve incorporated matched grip into my musical performances.

I’ve always enjoyed playing multiple styles of music and, through that, I’ve incorporated matched grip to play certain styles more comfortably. The decision to play some styles traditional and some matched has been a personal one. I don’t think that there’s much technical reasoning or importance for it in general, but I feel that it makes sense for my hands and for the way I hear music. I grew up playing traditional grip and performed only that way for about ten years. I was teaching matched grip to all students in those years, but didn’t feel the need to bring it into my personal playing until I started studying and developing certain rhythms that just felt more comfortable while playing matched. I had begun to open my mind up to the idea of incorporating the grip into my personal playing, but I knew there would be work involved to fully gain comfort using matched in my performances.

“No matter how complex the exercise or the rate of speed that you may be working on, choosing to fully dedicate your mind to the task at hand is one of the main factors in the success of what your are trying to technically work out.”

In the initial stages, my hands didn’t function the way I was accustomed while using traditional grip. I dusted off a couple of books and started building my dexterity while using matched. I wanted my hands to be completely interchangeable. I was trying to be very mindful of my approach because I wanted to make sure that I was applying all the techniques that I’d practiced over the years of studying and playing traditional. It took me about a year to truly get comfortable, but since then I feel that I have gotten my hands to that even place I wanted them to be. Simple hand exercises and a single focus has reaped all the benefits that I sought.

There’s something to be said for a level of concentration when approaching the instrument in a technical way. No matter how complex the exercise or the rate of speed that you may be working on, choosing to fully dedicate your mind to the task at hand is one of the main factors in the success of what your are trying to technically work out. I’m not necessarily advocating a meditative state, but you should be intently focused. This focus makes a huge difference in the time that it will take you to become fluent or successful at that specific task. Very early in playing I had an influential teacher that would say, “Drumming is 75% mental and 25% physical.” That has stuck with me throughout my playing and I find it to hold a lot of weight in my personal successes. I do not feel like this journey is complete but with advise like that and teachers that are giving: I feel like I’m on the right track.

Here’s an in studio video of an example of a style that I play matched currently

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