Learning the Rebound Stroke
by: Mark Wessels

To become a great snare drummer, you need to develop a relaxed REBOUND stroke. To acurately describe a rebound, imagine throwing a tennis ball on a drum head. After hitting the target, it would bounce back up, or "rebound." To sustain a constant bounce of the ball, all you have to do is push it back down (or "dribble" it) - the drum head does the work of bouncing it back to you. If you have a stick in your hand & you "throw" it on the drum head, it will rebound - assuming that you don't use any tension or pressure to stop it. The harder that you throw it down, the higher it will rebound.

Take the stick out of your hand and wave "bye-bye." Notice that the forearm moves in response to the wrist motion and that the hand is naturally relaxed and loose. Wrap your fingers into a fist and do the same thing - you'll notice how much more difficult it is to move your hand up and down. The trick to playing a relaxed rebound stroke with the stick is to not squeeze the back fingers! The more that you squeeze, the more tension that's produced in the forearm. More tension = slower strokes.

As you put the stick back in your hand, keep from squeezing the back fingers as you move the wrist up and down. I think that a large motion of the wrist will develop the muscles in the forearm quicker. Use your best judgment, but above all: don't use the arm AND STAY RELAXED!

Practice this exercise called "8 on a Hand" - in it, you'll isolate 8 strokes on each hand so that you can concentrate on your REBOUND stroke! Use a full wrist motion on every stroke, but remember to let the drum head (or practice pad) do the work of rebounding the stick back up. Stay as relaxed as possible at all times!

* Each exercise in this article will have a "play-along" midi file. When you click on the link, the file will download & begin. You'll hear a cowbell that will count you off (think of "one, two; one, two, ready go").
    Midi files help keep you in a steady speed (called "tempo"), plus they offer a challege. After the line finishes, the cowbell counts you off again - this time at a faster tempo! And so on & so on - until you can't "hang" any longer. When you can keep up with the fastest tempo, you'll KNOW you're happenin'. Yeah baby.

R   R   R   R      R   R   R   R     L   L   L   L     L   L   L   L    (repeat)
8 on a Hand MIDI file

Before you go on, you might want to check out this video clip of the rebound stroke done right! Notice the smooth motion of the stick - the drum just pushes it back up, doesn't it? See the turn of the wrist? Not a lot of arm motion - just relaxed & loose. Give that man a Ceegar!

Matched Grip:
Low Bandwidth    High Bandwidth

Traditional Grip:
Low Bandwidth    High Bandwidth

If you think that this exercise is too EASY, don't be fooled! I know many college drummers and even percussion instructors that use this exercise EVERYDAY to stretch out their wrist and forearm muscles! But for the sake of this article, let's move on to a few sticking exercises:

Sticking Exercises

It's time to learn the difference between your right and left hands. We'll start you out slowly, but gradually we'll mix it up. The goal is to play a nice, relaxed REBOUND stroke on each line - no matter whether it's slow or fast.

 Here's what you're trying to accomplish:

    Use a full wrist bend on each stroke - the arm only moves in reaction to the wrist.
    The hand should stay FLAT (horizontal to the floor) while you play.
    The elbow and shoulder should be RELAXED & close to the body.
    The tip of the stick should hit in the center of the drum.
    Watch yourself in a mirror to see if the stick is traveling straight up and down.
    Finally, work to keep a STEADY TEMPO (the tempo describes the speed of the music).

Ready to begin? Scroll down and click on the midi file to play along!

1.  R R R R   R R R R   L L L L   L L L L  
2. R R R R   L L L L   R R R R   L L L L   
3. R R L L   R R L L   R R L L   R R L L  
4. R L R L   R L R L   R L R L   R L R L  
5. R L R R   L R L L   R L R R   L R L L  
6. R R L R   L L R L   R R L R   L L R L  
7. R L L R   L R R L   R L L R   L R R L  
8. R R R L   R R R L   R R R L   R R R L  
9. L L L R   L L L R   L L L R   L L L R 
10. R L R L   R R L L   R L R L   R R L L

This midi file will take you through each line, just like the '8 on a hand' exercise (in fact, you may have already noticed that the first line IS '8 on a hand'!). After you play a line once, there's a brief pause, then the next line begins. If you blow a line, you may want to practice it several times before going on!

Sticking Exercise, midi

Now, here's the challenge! The next midi file will take you through ALL TEN LINES without stopping! The tricky part is to KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE 'MUSIC'! When you get to the end of one line, you've got to look ahead - most drummers really mess up going from the end of one line to the beginning of the next!

The cool thing about this midi file is that it has an accompaniment to play along with. An accompaniment is like a 'backup band' - someone who plays along with you while you perform. I'll start with your part fairly loud, so you can keep the beat. Gradually I'll fade the snare drum so you can hear the music!

This midi exercise uses "Peter Gun" as the accompaniment. Try to tap your foot while you play. It's important to develop coordination between your hands and your feet if you ever want to become a great drummer! GOOD LUCK!

 Sticking Exercise without stopping, midi

Finally, here are the sticking exercises at a FAST tempo. Since it goes by so quickly, we'll play the whole page TWICE. This midi file uses Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing" as the accompaniment - it's one of my favorite jazz tunes. I had to cut it up a little to make it fit, but when you finish line number ten, you'll hear the famous drum solo by GENE KRUPA - one of the early innovators on the drumset!

If you can't play through all ten lines without making a mistake, don't worry! Not everything that you'll do when you learn will be easy! Keep working at it - practice the lines that give you the most trouble SLOWLY before you try the whole thing again. GOOD LUCK!

Twice through the exercise at a faster tempo, midi

Did you finish it without mistakes? Congratulations! You are just all that AND a bag of chips. How 'bout those of you who made some mistakes? Maybe you didn't miss a sticking, but it really wasn't as relaxed or as steady as it should of been? Remember, a true REBOUND stroke is totally relaxed!

There are more lessons like this one available at Mark Wessels' site: