The secret to cool stick tricks is having good finger control. When you have full control of your fingers, you are able to add stick trick maneuvers to any drumbeat. With practice, your stick tricks will appear effortless and are sure to impress even your biggest critic. One of the easiest stick tricks is the finger twirl. When you build momentum with the finger twirl, inertia kind of keeps the stick in motion.
Prerequisite to Stick Tricks
Before attempting the finger twirl, you need to prepare your fingers. I do a quick exercise drill every day for a few minutes (while watching television or something) to maintain my finger control.
With your hand palm down and perpendicular to your body, bend your fingers slightly and place your drumstick between your index and middle fingers at the first joint (closest to the tip). Locate the fulcrum of the stick so that it feels leveled and pivots freely. Now, alternate lifting then lowering your index and middle fingers causing the stick to sway from side to side. Be careful not to drop it!
Next, move the stick between your middle and ring fingers and alternate lifting then lowering these fingers. Repeat again, this time using your ring and little fingers. Practice this exercise until you are able to pivot your stick without it slipping. Mastery is achieved when your stick can rapidly rock back and forth comfortably between your fingers for several seconds.
How-To Do the Finger Twirl
Once you have developed finger control of your stick, the twirl is simple because of Newton’s First Law of Motion (an object in motion, stays in motion). With your right hand* palm up, place the stick (at the first joint) between your slightly bent index and middle fingers. As you cross your index finger behind your middle finger (photograph 1) place your ring finger under the stick (this will take practice because the ring finger is inflexible).
Then as you slide your index finger from under the stick, quickly raise your ring finger. The top of the stick will sway effortlessly to the right and up – while the sticks bottom will swing in the direction of your now lowered little finger (photograph 2).
Raise your little finger while sliding your middle finger from under the stick. The top of the stick will again sway easily to the right and up. When you cross your ring finger behind your little finger, the stick will rise a little (due to the inflexibility of the ring finger).
Lastly, close your hand as you grab the stick in one fell swoop.
Initially, this movement will be unceremonious, but I promise you that with practice it will become seamless (see video).
I personally feel that nothing says, “Talented Musician” like a drummer who – regardless of the complexity of the drumbeat – can throw in a stick trick or two … or more. With dedication and practice, you can learn to do your stick tricks without even looking at your hand. Eventually (if you’ve been alternating between both hands) you can double your fun with the two-hand finger twirl.
* opposite direction for left hand
Tips for Stick Tricks
- Use a stick that is a good fit for you. Personally, I exclusively use and endorse Collision Drumsticks. The 5A-R’s suit me because the weight rests comfortably in my hands and the extra length gives me the perfect reach.
- Unless you are ambidextrous, your dominant hand will automatically be favored so be purposeful about practicing with both hands equally.
- Finger twirls take a lot of practice so be patient and you will CRUSH IT.