A Clean Sweep

In this issue’s column, we’re talking Quads and how to play the one thing every tenor drummer wants to do—the scrape/sweep.

How do you get really good at playing scrapes across the drums? By focusing hard on playing one drum.

One-Drum Approach

To play with good sound quality, you need to accomplish the following.

  • Keep all your fingers on the stick and your hands relatively flat
  • Turn your wrists
  • Play strong and “through” the drum
  • Control the rebound

If you can do that on one drum, it’s now your mission to maintain that technique while moving around the drums.

Scrape Technique

The best exercises for scrapes are those that reinforce your one-drum technique and then slowly build to multiple drums. For example play a bar of sixteenth notes with sticking RRLL-RRLL-RRLL-RRLL on drum two. Now do the same, but play the double rights as a sweep from drum 1 to drum 3. So the order of the drums is 1322-1322-1322-1322, all with that same RRLL sticking.

The trick to scrape technique with good sound quality is keeping that right hand flat, turning the wrist and getting good sound quality on every note. In other words, the exact same things you should worry about when playing on one drum.

Don’t change your “vertical” approach to drumming while moving your hand laterally. Check out some of the great content Bill Bachman has published that really gets into every detail of this idea.

The Next Level

Once you feel good about that right hand scrape from drums one to three, it’s time to work on the inward scrape of the right hand from drums three to one. Then do the same for the left hand, sweeping out (two to four) and in (four to two). Those four little maneuvers are the building blocks you need.

As you play with new patterns and much harder rudiments, always remember that the key is isolating the technique on one drum and being consistent as you move laterally around the drums.

About the Author

Lane Armey is the battery percussion coordinator for Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. During the past 10 years, he has worked with various groups including Northwestern University and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.