The Moeller Method is an advanced technique that requires good balance and control of your drum stick. If you’re a beginner, to help learn and develop that fine control, please check out our beginners guide to drums. Work on your fundamental skills first, and then come back in future to develop your technique even further.
What is the Moeller Method?
Drummers are lazy musicians. The best way to play fast and loud is by saving your energy and letting gravity do all the hard work for you. The purpose of the Moeller Method is to get the most out of doing as little as possible.
The Moeller Method is a technique that uses a ‘whipping motion’ to help drummers increase speed, efficiency, and power. This technique combines three different types of drum strokes into one arm motion and uses gravity to assist your playing. While performing these strokes, make sure you’re in control, but stay relaxed and let gravity do all the hard work. Practice these strokes on your snare drum for a start, but of course, this technique can eventually be applied to all drums and cymbals. Make sure you start out slowly—speed will come later.
The full stroke.
First, hold your stick in position just above your drum. Lift the stick up high using your whole arm, loosening your wrist on the way up in a whipping motion, and use gravity to bring it back down to strike the drum. This is the full stroke. Let gravity do the hard work—that’s where you get your power from. All you need to do is keep control of the stick on the way down.
Practice this stroke slowly and control how much your stick bounces off the drum. This will set you up for the next two parts of this technique.
The up stroke.
With your stick hovering above your drum ready for you to lift up again, why not tap the drum while you’re there? With a flick of the wrist, tap the drum on your way back up. This is the up stroke.
Try alternating the full and up strokes in a single, fluid motion. The aim is to get two strikes out of a one arm movement—that’s where you get your speed and efficiency from.
The tap stroke.
While hovering above the drum, simply tap the drum with a flick of the wrist without moving your whole arm. This is the tap stroke. Easy, right?
Try adding a tap stroke in between the full and up strokes to turn that straight pattern into a triplet pattern. Now we’re getting three strokes out of only one arm movement.
That’s it. The Moeller Method is as simple as three different strokes. Used in a variety of ways, this Method can be applied to all aspects of playing drums to increase your speed, efficiency, and power.
Applications of the Moeller Method.
From fast sixteenth note hi-hat patterns, to ghost notes, to complex fills, the Moeller Method will help you achieve new levels of efficiency. Here are some examples of ways you can use the Moeller Method to take your drumming to the next level.
Fast sixteenth note hi-hat patterns.
One of the most common applications of the Moeller Method in contemporary music is to increase speed and efficiency while playing fast hi-hat / ride cymbal patterns. Because you’re able to achieve two strokes for the price of one arm movement, your speed and stamina will increase.
Practice playing this rhythm first with your left hand, then with your right.
The accented notes are your full strokes, the alternate notes are up strokes. Start slowly and gradually increase your speed. Once you feel comfortable, try applying this technique to your drum grooves.
Ghost notes and dynamics.
Drumming is all about creativity. We use different drums and cymbals to add sonic variation, and we use dynamics (volume) to add complexity and expression. Ghost notes are one of the most common uses of dynamics. Use the tap stroke to effortlessly add ghost notes to your drum grooves and fills.
To master this skill, practice playing this rhythm, alternating leading with your left, and then your right.
Alternate hands with each stroke. You will find one hand will be performing the same pattern as above, while your other hand will be filling in the gaps with tap strokes. Practice slowly for a start and gradually increase your speed. Increase difficulty by shifting the accented note by a beat, and be sure to practice leading with both your right and left hands.
Accents and power.
Accents can take a lot of energy to play. Whether you’re playing hard-hitting snares or powerful fills, the Moeller Method can help you increase your volume and stamina. Use gravity to get more power behind your drums without putting in more effort.
Keep practicing these simple exercises and the Moeller Method will eventually become second nature. Whether you need to get more speed, more efficiency, or more power, you can apply this technique to all aspects of your playing to take your drumming to a whole new level.
Want to practice the Moeller Method in Melodics? Check out our drums lesson: Glyphs. Practice adding snare variations to one-handed sixteenth note hi-hat patterns.