Formal Motion


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All of the formal motions comprise of a downward movement and an upward movement and the stick is articulated primarily by the wrist.

Because in the formal system, the length of the stroke is proportionate to the loudness of the note it produces, the starting position of the downward movement determines the dynamic level of the stroke and the finish position determines the intended dynamic level of the next note.

At first we will learn each of the basic strokes individually. Then we will combine the individual strokes, playing various sequences using one hand at a time. Once we have developed satisfactory control over each hand individually, we will look at sequences involving two hands before applying the formal motions to simple drum fills involving sixteenth-notes and eighth-note triplets.

It is important to master all of these strokes in each hand before moving on. In order to do so, work slowly and practice each one daily working on one hand at time. You should plan to work on each stroke for a minimum of five minutes per hand, per day. Remember, you are striving for accuracy and consistency in the starting and finishing positions of each stroke and to ensure a smooth, relaxed linear motion in between.

For each stroke that you play, you must pay close attention to the following:

    1.    The start position
    2.    The finish position
    3.    The quality of motion
    4.    The quality of sound