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Alexander Technique Drumming

Getting Alexander Technique direction from AT Teacher Doug Shenefield If you play music professionally there are times where you are expected to play on your instrument for hours. Whether you are playing at a wedding gig, a casual, on a cruise ship, a full day rehearsal, they all take a toll on your body. The physical demands of the drums makes these gigs even more challenging for drummers.

One of the tools I like to use to combat that wear and tear is the Alexander Technique (AT). The Alexander Technique is a movement technique that teaches people how to efficiently use their bodies by inhibiting unnecessary muscular tension.

I started AT lessons in my late twenties mainly due to upper back and shoulder pain. My first teacher pointed out that I was holding tension in my face and especially my jaw. She went on to give me some techniques to inhibit the tension in those areas as well as to calm my entire nervous system. One of those techniques is called “active Rest” or “constructive rest” which you can find out more at http://alexandertechnique.com/constructiverest.

Active rest is also beneficial before and/or after a strenuous activity like a gig and you only need around ten minutes or so to get the benefits. It’s a low maintenance tool for sure but doing it everyday will increase it’s benefit.

Delving deeper into the art of the Alexander Technique requires working with a certified teacher individually or within a group. Although many people notice diminished pain immediately after their first lesson, it usually takes around ten lessons for your average person to become aware of all their body movement habits and to start inhibiting some of them. If you are serious about getting started I recommend finding a certified teacher. I used this directory http://www.alexandertechnique.com/teacher to find my teacher in Orange County – Doug Shenefield

Speaking of Doug, he came to my rehearsal space in Santa Ana, CA for a lesson and here is a clip of some of the results:

One of the drum set playing challenges Doug noticed is that since drummers are operating the foot pedals, we can’t properly ground our feet. To compensate for this, we need to focus on not collapsing through our core.

Another challenge is being able to move to and from different parts of the drum set without stiffening up or delivering stress to certain muscle groups. Doug noticed that I wasn’t pivoting enough when I moved my right arm from the ride cymbal across my body to the hi-hat. To help keep the body loose, pivoting towards the particular drum or cymbal you are playing is important. Doug also noticed when I was in traditional grip I was leaning my upper body toward the left arm and putting more weight on my left sitz (sitting) bone.

Doug was really digging the Moeller technique movements! What I find interesting is that although Doug is not drummer and has no background in drum technique, he was able to keen in on some of those movements. He described them as “sinuous” which I think is a great adjective to describe how the Moeller Technique should look when performing it well.

If you’re suffering from body pain, or just run down from the wear and tear of playing music professionally, then the Alexander technique should be a good investment for you.


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Paradiddle Accents

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If you are looking for ways to change up the paradiddle accents then check out this video. It implies you have a good understanding of how to play the paradiddle with the Moeller technique. If you need a refresher, you can check out the Paradiddle speed builder lesson.


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Paradiddle Speed Exercises

Download Moeller Paradiddle Builder Exercises

I wrote a few Moeller Paradiddle exercises for one of my students but you guys might like it too so check out the content above. Basically it’s breaking down the Moeller paradiddle into two builder exercises.

The first builder is just the Moeller paradiddle without the last diddle. The objective here is to focus on this alternating down up tap or what some people call the wave.

The second builder which is just the first five beats of a paradiddle-so we’re focusing on building one side of the diddles at a time. The objective here is to pay equal attention to each side of the diddles.

In the lesson PDF the strokes are notated as either Down, Up, or Tap. Also, there are some suggestions for exercises that combine both builders and the complete paradiddle.

These exercise builders can help build fast and clean paradiddles while utilizing the Moeller technique. Now go and practice and have fun with it!


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NewGrip Wrist Support Wraps Review

David photo in woods
NewGrip is a family run business based in Portland, Oregon that started out developing gloves for weight lifting, crossfit, and rowing circa 1995. The gloves are a two part system including both hand pads and wrist supports, which can function together or separately.

Early on they found that they had a lot of customers who started using their wrist supports for daily activities like typing and gardening. The customers who really seemed to love the wrist supports were musicians and so they decided to expand their marketing for all the activities that people were using them for. I’m glad they did because a few years back when I was looking for relief for my carpal tunnel syndrome I found them online and they worked wonders for me.

Since then I’ve been mostly pain free until Jan 2nd of this year when my beautiful baby girl was born into this world. Between my daily activities of drumming, working on the computer and caring for my newborn baby, I experienced a painful carpal tunnel flare up in my right hand and wrist that negatively impacted my drumming.

So I started wearing my wrist supports as much as possible during the day and sometimes even at night. The supports had their work cut out since it seemed like every waking hour was spent utilizing the same muscles in my arms and especially my wrists. After two weeks I started feeling some relief and after four weeks I felt my playing was back to 100 percent.

NewGrip’s muscle and tendon support increases the blood flow to the wrists, which sends more oxygen and nutrients to the problem area. You can check out newgrip.com to find out more info about the the science behind it.

They are made in the USA which is great! I also must admit they look pretty handsome on the wrists! Kudos to a great company that has helped so many people!

rsjoy_newgrip


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