3.13 Percussion Ergonomics

Try Exercise 8.2 to achieve a stable torso when seated, and to be able to balance on both ischia (the curved bones at the base of the pelvis).

Regarding instruments such as the marimba, xylophone and vibraphone, it is the feet that form the foundation. Please see Exercise 8.1 xxx for standing position.

The basic position of rest and starting point for movements in the wrists requires a neutral position, i.e. the wrist/hand is not bent in an angle towards the side.

Drums

When holding the drumsticks, there should be a relaxed grip between the thumb and index finger, with the other fingers supporting, forming a channel to produce a flexible grip. The drumstick maintains contact with the pad of the thumb and with the inner side of the outer joint of the index finger.

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Illustration 3.13.1. The grip around the drumstick, with contact between the inner sides of the index finger and the thumb.
 

The forearm is twisted a few degrees inwards, and the wrist also bends a few degrees. The back of the hand and forearm are rotated inwards a few degrees. The movement itself is a combination of a bend of the wrist and an inward rotation of the wrist. Let the impulse come from the large muscles around the upper arm and shoulder, in order to minimise tension in the arm. The elbow should be relaxed. The angle in the elbow should be 90 degrees or greater in order to achieve the most relaxed feeling possible, and to avoid the feeling of needing to physically hold up the forearm and hand.

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Illustration 3.13.2. The angle in the elbow should be 90 degrees or greater. The arm should feel as though it can rest in this position, so that it does not require extra exertion to hold up the forearm and hand.

Try to allow the first beat of four to start with an impulse in the elbow, with the rest coming from the wrist, to counteract overstraining of the musculature in the wrist and forearm.

When playing with the pedal on the bass drum, you can either have the weight on the heel, which places greater strain on the front muscles of the lower leg, or have the front of the foot in contact with the pedal, in which position most of the movement comes from the thigh muscles.

Timpani

Timpani sticks are held in a similar way to other drumsticks, but with more lightness towards the end of hits so that the timpani skin can ring.

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Illustration 3.13.3. Relaxed wrist, and relaxed around the timpani stick itself inside the hand.
Illustration 3.13.4. The elbow leads the hand with the timpani stick upwards.
Illustration 3.13.5. The wrist is now stretched and has pulled the timpani stick upwards, ready to be directed downwards again and released onto the timpani skin.

 

Tuning the timpani skin is controlled by the pedals, and demands a flexible position and good balance in the torso in order to minimise exhaustion and tension in the calves and thighs.

Cymbals

These are often heavy, and to successfully distribute the weight, position the centre of balance in the very centre of your body.

Marimba, xylophone and vibraphone

These instruments require great flexibility in the body’s centre of balance while playing. To begin with, find a posture with a stable torso (see Exercise 8.1 for stable standing position) and a feeling of being able to sit without actually sitting. This results in flexible hip joints and knee joints, allowing lateral movement without having to move the feet. All this should also take place with a feeling of leaning slightly forwards from all the way down in the hip joints.