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How to Play Percussion Instruments

    Drums With Sticks

    • 1). Prepare the drum if needed. Snare drums have a different sound, depending if the snare beads are strung tightly. Timpanis can change pitch depending on their pedals.

    • 2). Grasp the two drumsticks between the thumb and forefinger.

    • 3). Loosen the wrist while still holding the stick, to the point where the stick falls onto the drumhead. Once it hits the drumhead, tighten the wrist and snap it back to its initial position before it fell.

      Repeat the same process with the other hand. Generally only one hand at a time is used.

    • 4). To achieve a drumroll, loosen the wrist holding the stick and let it fall, but do not snap it as tightly as during a regular beat, and allow the other wrist to loosen while the initial hand is in recoil, beginning a continuous motion. For right-handed players, the right wrist should be loosened first, and vice versa for left-handed players.

      To create a muffled sound, loosen the wrist while holding the stick, but do not snap it back up.

    • 5). Stick usage on drum kits follows the same theory, only with multiple instruments, some of which are operated by foot pedals.

      Mallet instruments such as xylophones and marimbas use the same theory as well, but instead of the multiple instruments found in the drum kit, multiple bars with specific tones are hit at certain times, similar to a piano.

    Drums Without Sticks

    • 1). Relax the wrists; place them slightly behind and above the drumheads.

    • 2). Loosen the wrists, and allow the fingers or palms to fall onto the drumhead, and snap back up after hitting it.

    • 3). Different timbres and sustains can be created depending on the angle of the finger or palm drop, how loose or tense the wrist is on the recoil, and the force with which the finger or palm hits the head.

    Hand-Held Cymbals

    • 1). Hold the cymbals in the palm of each hand.

    • 2). Place the cymbals parallel, approximately 4 inches apart with the cymbal in your non-dominant hand (left hand for right-handed players, and vice versa), approximately 6 inches above the other. Placing the non-dominant hand cymbal higher than this will create greater volume upon impact if needed, and the opposite is true if it is placed closer to the other cymbal.

    • 3). Move the two cymbals towards each other and reverse the initial position of the cymbals, with the dominant hand cymbal approximately 6 inches above and 4 inches parallel to the non-dominant hand cymbal.

    • 4). If a shorter note is required, cup the two cymbals together when striking them together. This will muffle the reverberation that creates the cymbal's sound.

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