How To Develop Finger Technique For Snare Drum

How To Develop Finger Technique For Snare Drum

 Finger Technique on the Snare Drum

Finger control, or finger technique as it is sometimes referred to is a topic that drummers will come across frequently as they journey through their drumming studies.  It comes across as some elusive holy grail of drumming, which it is not.  Finger technique is simply about applying the final lever to move the drumstick, the fingers.  Finger technique is typically associated with playing fast, but that also is not true.  You can implement finger control at any tempo, but it is especially useful for increasing speed. 


So How Do You Develop Finger Technique?

To develop finger technique, you must first understand when to apply the technique.  You must also learn to develop finger technique for different fingers, as well as different grips.  I’ll first discuss finger technique for matched grip, and later talk about finger technique for traditional grip.  Before working on finger technique, it would be in your best interest to have very good control of your wrist technique first, as well as be at a comfort level where you believe learning finger technique is the logical next step for your playing.  Incorporating more finger control into your playing will take your drumming to the next level.

So to get started we’ll begin with the finger technique in the right hand using matched grip. Assuming your playing with your palms down, begin to gently dribble the stick with your middle and third finger to get the rebound going.  Finger technique is no different mechanically than a normal wrist stroke.  You’ll still want to be playing the free stroke for each dribble, meaning you want the stick to bounce back up into starting position each time.  I have a a video on how to play the free stroke, and encourage you to check it out if you’re not familiar.  Once you are able to dribble the stick comfortable and evenly, you can start to increase the speed. 

When working on finger control, there is a lot of just playing singles with the fingers over and over again until you get the movement perfected. I used to practice these exercises while watching TV when I was younger.  Since the motions are monotonous, you can focus on other things while you work on your finger technique.  Now that you have the middle and third finger going, you can also add the pinky to assist the movement.  Adding the pinky isn’t necessary, but it’s nice to give it a bit of love and incorporate it into the workout.

Now let’s look at how to play the finger technique with traditional grip.  The traditional grip finger technique can span multiple fingers including the thumb.  Many players use the index and middle finger to execute finger technique, while others use the thumb and index as well.  It’s all a matter of preference but I will show you all of them in the video below.  When using the index finger, again you’ll have to get comfortable dribbling the stick and accepting the rebound to get a clean consecutive motion. Same goes for the middle finger, and the middle/index finger combo dribble.  My personal technique relies more on the thumb and then the index finger as almost a backup lever.  I dribble the stick with my thumb and narrow the motion to increase speed.  Again, it’s all a matter of preference, but you’ll see in the video the advantages of using the thumb to control the strokes. Just as you did with matched grip, you’ll want to play single note strokes continuously until you feel comfortable with the technique.  Like any new technique, things need to start out at a snail’s pace, and then increase velocity as you get better.  Finger technique on the snare drum is hard guys, it’s something that can take a drummer a long time to master.  I’ve been working on my finger technique for 3 decades now and am still perfecting it.  Point is, absolutely do not get discouraged with this. It’s a lifetime of learning, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have excellent finger technique in a relatively short amount of time.  

Exercises to Develop Finger Technique on the Snare Drum

The following are the exercises I use to develop finger technique on the snare drum.

  1. Exercise 1 represents most of the combos I’ll play to work the finger technique up to speed.

Freddy Charles Hand Exercises

  1. Fives- fives are excellent to build the finger technique. Simply play 5 sixteenth notes with the right hand, followed by 5 sixteenth notes with the left.  I demonstrate in the video, but if you were to count it would sound like this- 1,2,3,4,5 & 1,2,3,4

Freddy Charles Single Stroke Exercises

  1. Alternating single strokes

Alternating Single Stroke

So that's a wrap folks.  I hope this article and video gave you more insight on how to develop the finger technique on the snare drum.  

I highly recommend checking out my course on mastering the traditional grip.

For more technical studies check out my books and signature practice pad to help build stamina and technique.