French Grip Drum Finger Technique – James Payne


Hi guys welcome to the French grip
episode today we’re going to work on the finger motion why is the finger motion
an important thing in drumming as we all know the faster we want to play the
smaller the muscles that we involve in the motion should be so for example when
we do an arm motion we use a big muscle so at one point they will start to get
stiff and we have to shft to wrist motion and which are smaller muscles and
once we go from wrist motion to finger motion we’re going to use even smaller
muscles so we’ll go faster this is a physical law because it’s just the way
how everything works like an elephant is slower than a cat because it has
it’s bigger there’s more mass to to carry so the same thing happens in our body so
bigger muscles will have just a certain limit of speed and then we have to shift
to smaller muscles sometimes I see drummers playing using
the French using the finger motion with the German grip but when I try to assume
this position with my hand I can feel like some tension here and so for this
reason I prefer not to do this kind of motion because I’m afraid that in time
this can damage my body so I’d rather just switch to this motion which
doesn’t really hurt doesn’t do anything it’s perfectly comfortable and so I
shifted from a German to a French grip of course working on the finger doesn’t
benefit only the speed but also the control that we have in holding the
stick let’s see why so the difference in holding the stick from the German
position to the French position is that we just basically put our thumb looking
upwards instead of laterally so nothing really changes on how we actually hold
the stick we just turn our hand in this position so that
our thumbs look upwards and we can completely take advantage of this motion
that if we would do in this position wouldn’t be possible of course so this
is the best way to hold the stick having the thumb a little bit over the
index finger this is because the actual motion it’s going to be this one okay so
where these four fingers are going to do the pushing motion and the thumb it’s
going to be a lever okay so having the thumb a little bit more in front will
help us in making this motion happen a lot of people tend to use… to hold
the stick here having the index and the thumb very close to each other and
sometimes this cause the fact that we tend to not to take advantage of the
rebound but to raise the stick on our own so and this is something that we don’t
want to happen okay when we use the French grip there isn’t a real fulcrum the
only way the stick stays in our hand is through the rebound is through keeping
it in motion if not in the French grip wouldn’t be possible
wouldn’t happen okay so this is very important this is the first step thumb a
little bit more in front of the index finger and then the rest of the hand
that lays on the stick in this way and then let’s always keep in mind that this
is the motion and not this why lifting the stick it’s I wouldn’t say a mistake
but will make things harder for us if we have to raise the stick each time for each
stroke this will only make us work more instead if we take advantage of the
rebound pulling a stick back up we never have to
pull the stick up and we never feel the weight of the stick we just push it down
by squeezing our fingers right so this is why having this position of the hand
is so important and this is why we don’t want this to happen if there’s no
rebound with the finger motions it should be impossible to make it happen
it’s all based on the rebound even because the finger muscles are so are micro
muscles so are so thin and so small that if we have to think of lifting the stick
for six strokes per second that would be a lot of work for micro muscles so it’s
better to let the rebound pull the stick back up and we just have to push it down
so at this point we have to learn how to take advantage of the rebound another
common mistake that I see is that people tend to since they want to go fast they
tend to have a very small dynamic range when they play with the French grip and
they tend to choke the rebound and that’s because we think of the pressing
down the squeezing motion more than they’re opening instead the more we
open these four fingers the more space the stick will have to rebound the more
we will take advantage of the rebound itself and the louder the more powerful we
will be the faster we will also be because if we choke the stick if we choke
the rebound it’s going to become only a nervous motion that will kind of go on
and off without control it’s just going to be something like that we have no
control of instead of knowing exactly how to deal with the rebound and how to
control the stick so working on a wider dynamic range
of motion even with the fingers is very important because it helps us to have
more control and the more space we give the faster we can go so if our 220 BPM
is this much of range motion we can’t go over that so that’s going to be our
limit instead if we add some space to that BPM it means that we can close a
little bit our range of motion and that means that The Strokes will be even
closer to each other so if I were 200 220 BPM is this wide, 240 will be this
260 will be this 280 will be does it make sense so the more space we give the
faster we can play space and times are connected so a lot of space a lot of
time little space little time little time means faster that means little time
there’s a little time between one stroke and another which means that they’re
happening very close to each other so more stroke in one minute and that’s how
we speed up so we have to think of not only the squeezed motion but also the
opening motion when we do this kind of motion so actually the way I practice is
not thinking of this but it’s thinking of opening which is exactly the same
thing of when we follow the rebound back that we think of the up motion our up
motion with the wrist can be compared to our opening of the hand does
that make sense so at this point is very important to understand that we have to
completely isolate the wrist from the finger motion it shouldn’t be a half
wrist have finger motion but it should be a completely only finger motion this
is because we want to improve our fingers and not cheat ourselves to just
become faster if our fingers can only reach 240 BPM and we want to go faster
than that adding the wrist motion won’t improve the finger motion
it’s just a way to cheat ourselves to reach the speed that we want to but our
finger motion will always stay at 240 bpm so we want to really isolate that
and work on our limit and so really making sure that the wrist is
completely not involved and when we reach our limits then that’s where the
workout starts so that’s when we have to start figuring out what’s happening
that’s preventing us to go faster for example if we’re doing too much press
motion and we don’t we’re not opening our hand enough if we’re moving our thumb
and raising the stick on our own or if we’re doing the right thing and just
keeping the thumb as lever if our hand is actually fast enough and so we can
then play at a certain speed because if of course our body’s not prepared and
doesn’t have a certain speed on its own without the stick that’s already a limit
so we have to actually work on coordinating this motion without
involving the wrist okay so let’s make sure that our preparation is actually at
a level that can sustain this kind of motion if that’s not happening already
then that’s the first step we have to go and work on our body okay without the
stick without anything just this and then apply this motion to the stick and
make sure that what we do without the stick and with the stick it’s exactly
the same thing and that we only deal with the stick in our hand and that
we don’t change completely our way of moving and doing the french grip the
finger motion benefits speed and control but sacrifices dynamics using such small
muscles will make it impossible to have a dynamic like when we play a wrist
motion or an arm motion, of course because even the
range of motion it’s not as wide as just the range that a wrist can give you
like a wrist can almost give you 180 degrees a finger motion can’t
okay so as we already know the faster we go the more we’ll have to sacrifice
hitting hard which doesn’t mean that our volume will decrease okay it just means
that there’s less power less violence in our playing and if it’s needed it’s okay
it’s good to be a complete drummer and to have all the weapons for every
situation so when we have to when we can play with a wrist at a certain speed and
we can do that that’s great but then if the bands or the situation we’re in
requires even more it’s good to be prepared and be like okay yeah I can do
this even though maybe it’s not your type of playing it’s still something good
to have if we want to go to 280 290 300 BPM we have to switch and shift to the
finger motion in fact I mostly use the French grip to go from fast to faster so
from let’s say 260 bpm to 300 290 280 even though in my playing I don’t like
playing the sound that a 300 BPM blast beat makes because it’s just too
fast and there’s not even the time for the note to develop and so it just
sounds like noise so but that’s my musical opinion so it’s just something
that for me doesn’t work as a musician but I can still when for example I
played with vital remains they required speeds such as 290 BPM and
so I’ve had to work on this finger motion and play at those speeds because their
music required that and that was my job so I did it so let’s break down this
finger motion and let’s see in details all the steps that we have to face to
make this grip right the first thing that we will notice is that when we
start the first stroke we never start just by using our fingers and pushing the
stick with our fingers but we will start with an arm stroke okay as we usually do
the first stroke is just letting the arm fall and then from there we will have to
control with the fingers so in the first stroke what I do it’s a kind of a push
pull with the fingers so as the stick hits the surface I open my hand so that I
then can control the stick only with the fingers so I let them I open my hand so
the opposite of what we usually do with the wrist we open the hand so that we
find ourselves in this situation where we have to just then squash the
squeeze the singers and have the push motion of the French grip so having this
push pull is very helpful after this of course we have to so we accept the rebound on
this part and we just have to maintain the rebound so as I was saying before we
will have to work on the opening of the hand and not only the squeezing part so
here my concentration goes in opening the hand and not pressing down so
that I don’t reduce the dynamic and I don’t end up doing a nervous squeeze
pressing motion but I have a good range of control and of motion another good thing
is to use this part of our hand and not be too much in front because we don’t
want to end up using this part but we actually want to take advantage of all
the fingers and sometimes we end up doing a very weird motion because it’s
instinctive to our brain to make us do that motion but instead we have to
educate to use this part so that we are more elastic in the motion and there’s
more again more range of motion and not just a very limited range of motion that
this part of the finger allow us to have so let’s now see a few workouts that we
can do to work on the French grip we can use heavier sticks to get used to the
rebound these are aluminium sticks that I often
use and I don’t use them to become stronger but I use them to feel if I’m
doing the right things because if I will lift the stick or do anything wrong with
this I’ll fill it straight away because they’re so heavy that you will just feel
it you will get tired after five strokes instead if I’m doing the right things I’m
not I won’t feel the weight of the stick and it means that I’m completely
synchronized with the rebound and what I’m doing is correct so I suggest you to
use heavy sticks for one part of the exercise I usually start with heavier
sticks so that then I will just correct all the things that I have to correct
and then go on my regular drumsticks so the first workout is going to be playing
two measures for each hand so eight strokes for each hand so that we work on accepting the rebound and then maintaining the first strokes
which is the harder part to work on most of the times we have we tend to start in
a weird way kind of choking the rebound and then after one bar or something
having the rebound back so it’s good to instead be prepared from the first
stroke so this this workout will allow us to actually work on that and really
focus only on the first part on the injection part of this the French grip
so let’s work on accepting the rebound with the French grip so let’s remember
to do the kind of a push-pull after the first stroke and then to isolate
completely the wrist from the finger motion so that we don’t involve the
wrist and it’s clearly only a finger motion French grip and not any kind of
weird motion then we can go back and using our regular sticks and do the same
exercise of course it’s going to feel much better
with your regular stick than with heavier sticks but with the heavy sticks
you can really feel all the mistakes so it’s a great way of really working on
this grip another suggestion that I give you it’s to focus the push
of these four fingers with the middle finger because it’s the finger
that has bigger muscles compared to all these four fingers so the middle
finger has to be like the main part of the push of this four fingers of this
part of the hand so let’s think of the middle finger we do this exercise
more than the other fingers but let’s also make sure that we don’t only
push with a few fingers when we actually use all the four fingers to do this
motion if not we’ll we’ll just take advantage of two fingers out of four
which means that we give more work to just a few part of our hand and we’ll
it will make it more difficult it will be more difficult for us to reach to stay
relaxed and and reach certain speeds for a long period of time because we’re
stressing one part of the hand instead of having all the work divided on all
fingers which of course it’s going to be easier and will keep us more relaxed the
second workout it’s going to be playing from slow to fast and then back to slow
with right hand left hand unison and alternated
of course we’re going to divide this one minute for each hand and then one minute unisone and one minute alternated and we’ll go from slow to fast back to
slow back to fast in this 60 seconds so let’s see how this works then we can go back on our regular wood
sticks another good exercise is to just keep the stick bounces at a comfortable speed for 60 seconds so that we build
our comfort zone we’ll play at a speed and a dynamic that we know that it’s not going to
we’re not going to make any effort to do this we’re just comfortable in keeping
this in all the ways so unison and alternated also and then another great
exercise is to work on each finger so the thumb and the index finger are
always going to stay in contact and then we’ll alternate the order three fingers
one bar for each finger so something like this so we make sure we really use
all the fingers that we have and we don’t just use a couple of them and we
train all the muscles of the hand and so we will gain a lot of control speed and
also power for the French grip so have a good practice and I’ll see you next
week

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