In this second video of the introductive series to the study of percussion I’ll talk about the posture on the snare drum, a concept that can be adopted with a big part of other percussion instruments. But what do we mean exactly with posture in musical field? We mean the physical connection between the musician and his instrument. It’s clear that this connection has to be optimal in order to play well. So here you are 3 factors that determine it:
- the relaxation of the body;
- the area of percussion;
- height and distance of the instrument;
RELAXATION OF THE BODY
It may seem banal but I’ll tell you anyway: the first condition to play well is to feel relaxed. It’s a very simple and important concept and I even attended 3-4 specific courses at the conservatory to learn how to feel relaxed. They were quite useless courses where I almost learnt nothing since everything I learnt was thanks to my percussion teachers and to the observation of great musicians. But the point is the same: when you play relaxation is everything!
So, a good starting point is to think about our body while walking freely, like during a walk: arms relaxed, and head up.
If we play while we’re sitting down the concept is the same but in addition to what I’ve just said we have to pay attention to two more things: first of all the chair (that must be without arms) doesn’t ave to be too high nor too low and secondly you have to be seated on the initial part of the chair, in this way you’ll have more freedom with your leg movements and you’ll mostly take advantage of this specific kind of freedom when you’ll play the drum set.
AREA OF PERCUSSION
The second factor that determines the good posture is the “area of percussion”. With “area of percussion” I mean the point where we hit the drumhead with our drumsticks. I’ve decided to talk about this topic inside this lesson because it’s a factor connected to what I’ll explain later, the distance from the snare drum.
A lot of people think that snare drums must be hit in the middle of the drumhead. Actually a snare drum can be played in many ways and “areas”, but the typical sound, rich of overtones, results by playing slightly off center.
This is due to a physical quality common to every snare drum which have in the central part of the drumhead the minor resonant sound, in other words it’s the dead point. So it’s a good thing playing in the central part of the snare drum only if we want to obtain a very definite and clear sound.
Finally it’s important to point out another factor which is usually ignored: the snares position. Not even in this case we can talk about a “correct” or an “incorrect” position but it’s good to know that if the snares are perpendicular to our body and we play “above” them (obviously in the batter head) we’d have a clearer sound than when we play “out of” the snares.
Useless words? Just try to play Ravel’s Bolero pianissimo in the border of the snare drum out of the snares and you’ll see!
HEIGHT AND DISTANCE FROM THE INSTRUMENT
It’s really important to understand that it’s the instrument that has to be adjusted depending on the height of the musician and not the opposite to guarantee the maintenance of the relaxed condition that I’ve introduced before. For this reason it’s very important to buy a pad or a snare drum with his specific support adjustable in height.
Having said that, to determine the correct height try to follow these points:
- Start from a relaxed position, your arms “fall” in a natural way all along your body;
- Bend your arms until they are more or less parallel to the ground;
- Relax your wrists and let your fingers naturally fall down;
- Adjust the height of your instrument to ensure that your fingers touch the surface;
Done…? Ok, we have almost finished. Let me say the last two things about the distance you have to respect with the snare drum.
After you have determined the height of the instrument correctly, hold the drumsticks and walk to the seat or move it until the tip of the drumsticks touch the area I explained before that is the point on the drumhead slightly off center. Try not to move your arms up and down while going near the instrument.
WELL, CAN I START PLAYING NOW?
Just have a little more patience because we’re playing very soon, as soon as I’ve taught you the topic I’ll introduce in the third video of this series: how to hold the drumsticks. Don’t forget to watch the previous video where I taught all the things you need to start studying percussion instruments.
I suggest you to pay attention to your posture because it’s a fundamental aspect if you want to play well and don’t hurt yourself in the course of time. Look at yourself sometimes, record yourself, use a mirror, let a teacher guide you and look at you to correct a wrong position. Another time: trust me. And as always ask me whatever you want in the comments. Subscribe my newsletter and my Youtube channel to follow the next lessons. Bye!
Question: how much importance do you give to the posture when you play? And how much time did you spend on the posture at the beginning of your study? Leave a comment!