As a drummer, your hands and arms are important to your technique. Drumming is a physical activity, just like a sport, and practicing and performing taxes your muscles in many ways! In order to improve
your talent (as well as maintain your overall health), knowing how to set up your kit properly and sit in the correct position are imperative. By doing so, you can reduce injuries, and gain more strength, flexibility and speed in your drumming.
The first step in maintaining proper drumming posture is making sure that your kit is set up to allow you that position. Your stool should be high enough that your knees aren’t up around your ears, but low enough that you can reach the drum pedals and kick comfortably. Dave Atkinson of Rock Drumming Underground recommends adjusting your drum stool “so that with your feet on the pedals, your knees make an angle of 90-110 degrees. Another way to look at it is this: make sure your thighs are sloped downwards towards the floor a little – not too much though! Having too much a slope will give you a lack of power. If they are angled the other way, you will have to use a lot more energy to kick your bass drum!” Also, be sure that your seat is stable and secure, and that it won’t tip over beneath you when you’re really getting into the beat.
When setting up your drums, make sure that you don’t need to strain to reach anything. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself room to breathe; you don’t want anything close enough that you’re moving your arm awkwardly, or that might interfere with the movement of your hands. Set up your snare drum directly in front of you when seated, about 5-6 inches away and an inch or two higher than your knees. For easier access, you can also tilt the snare a few degrees toward you. Set your bass drum at an approximate 15-degree angle to your right and your hi-hat 15 degrees to your left. For your toms, aim for a natural position that doesn’t crowd you and that you can easily reach as you move around your kit.
Just like when sitting for long hours at a desk, you should be sitting upright behind your kit, with your back straight and your shoulders back. This will reduce strain on your lower back and lumbar region, caused by improper drumming posture and slouching. Don’t sit stiffly though, or you’ll stress your muscles, which can also lead to injuries. Let your shoulders roll with the motion of your drumming and make sure that you aren’t leaning to one side.
The importance of drumming posture is especially apparent if you know the story of Phil Collins of Genesis, who was forced to retire from drumming in 2011. His poor posture caused his vertebrae to dislocate, leading to back surgery after the last Genesis tour. Don Henley of The Eagles also has had back problems due to an uneven drumming posture. Whether you’re looking to play for fun or professionally, don’t let this happen to you; keep your back straight and use your stomach muscles to sit up behind your drum kit.
Asking for professional help will help you to correct bad habits that you aren’t aware you’ve fallen into and help you improve technique. By working with a private drum teacher, you can reduce the chance of injury by improving both your posture and your hand technique. Your teacher will be able to point out when you’re slouching, as well as help you to set up your kit in a way that is both beneficial and comfortable. While lessons can be helpful no matter what stage you’re at in your playing, private lessons are especially important for beginner players so that these healthy habits are established right away.
The next time you sit down at your drum kit, try to be aware of your posture and make an effort to sit up tall on your stool, bring your shoulders back and relax. By reducing injuries due to poor drumming posture, you can be sure that you will continue to enjoy playing for years to come!
Photo by jblaha