TIMPANI TRAINER PRESENTS
FRENCH GRIP: Thumbs on top. Wrist moves like a karate chop motion.
GERMAN GRIP: Thumbs on sides. Similiar to snare drum grip. Sticks form a "pizza" shape.
WHICH ONE DO I USE? Do your best to use French grip on everything except for when cross sticking. When cross sticking, turn your wrist over so it is like German grip. This allows you to cross stick more efficiently by eliminating arm motion and focusing on wrist motion.
Drums should be arranged from biggest to smallest going from left to right (like the bars on a keyboard instrument) in an arch. You should be able to stay in relatively the same place the whole time and rotate your body around to hit the striking area of all drums. Pedals face the middle so you can easily reach all of them. Since we do not have a properly sized stool, we will always stand when we play.
Use the wrist, not the arm.
Keep grip relaxed and let the stick bounce back naturally.
Strike about 3 inches from the edge.
LEGATO vs STACCATO
If you use soft mallets and a relaxed stroke, the timpani will naturally have a legato sound. Staccato is a bit tricker...
WAYS TO ACHIEVE A STACCATO SOUND
Snap the stick back up after you hit the head like touching a hot surface.
Use one hand to touch the drum after you play (called dampening).
Change to the hard mallets.
Use a mute (such as a moon gel or a piece of cloth on the head).
Use a single stroke, NOT a double bounce or multiple bounce stroke.
Higher pitches = roll faster
Lower pitches = roll slower
Softer dynamic = roll slower
Louder dynamic = roll faster
WHEN TO ROLL: When you see three slashes above the note or on the stem.
Continue to roll smoothly if a tie connects two or more rolled notes. If a tie connects to a non-rolled note, roll into that note and then release.
On long fp rolls, strike the drum loudly, wait for the sound to decay, then sneak back into the sound by rolling quietly. If the note has a crescendo after, save most of the volume until the end of the roll.
Example from the JH Honor Band Etude