Here’s a question for all of you pipe band snare drummers – what is the grip on your right stick called? Perhaps this is something you have not even thought about and just hold it the way that you were taught. However, after travelling the world teaching drummers from all sorts of backgrounds in music – I realised that there are specific grips that are commonly used.
Those three main right stick grips are : French grip, German grip, and American grip. Each has a different pro and and a different con but I think it is important that all pipe band drummers understand each of them and at the very least give them all a try. Lets take a quick look at each grip :
The French Timpani Grip – this is when your right hand is more so “under” the stick with lots of movement being provided by the fingers. This is a great grip that allows lots of finesse and finger speed. You will also notice an open “space” between your pointing finger and thumb. You will notice some pipe band drummers utilising this technique.
The German Timpani Grip – this is when your right hand is firmly on top of the stick. The stick is essentially “smothered” by the hand and this is a fairly aggressive style of grip. It forces the player to use more wrist movements to propel the stick. You will notice no “open space” between the pointing finger and thumb. This is a very common grip in the Scottish drumming world – and in fact one that I used up until the age of 20.
The American Grip – this is essentially a “hybrid” of the French and German grips. The players right hand is almost half way between French and German grip (so perhaps it should be called the Luxembourg Grip!!??). This style leaves a nice open gap between the pointing finger and thumb. However it still allows the player to utilise the fingers for speed and finesse. It also allows the player to use the wrist and forearm for more aggressive strokes. This is the more commonly taught method in the pipe band drumming world (in my experiences teaching, and in teaching alongside other drumming instructors). I honestly feel that this grip is the best for your arm health as well – you end up using less force and it leads to less muscle tension.
Each grip will provide different benefits. I encourage you to try them all and stick with whichever one works best for you. There is no right or wrong way in the pipe band drumming world. I personally feel that “technique” is somewhat of a never ending journey of discovery and improvement. I think a great musician will never be fully content with their technique and will always seek to improve themselves.
Enjoy your drumming everyone! If you have any thoughts on stick grip – please shout out!