The twirl is not a demonstration of an ability to play the sticks and is not an effective way to improve your stick skills. Twirling demonstrates dominance in the playing space and is the hallmark of an aggressive playing style.
Twirling only happens if one of the participants is dominant in the playing space. No matter how hard you try, it will never happen if you are not the dominant player.
What happens when you get a better player than you to join your band? You know what happens, right?
They start twirling their sticks.
“And so what?” You ask. “I am more experienced than the guy with the twirler and should be able to beat him.”
While that may be true, one should not think that twirling your sticks will lead you to a greater challenge because you are now in a challenging playing space. You already have more experience and skill than your opponent, so what will a twirling stick give you that you don’t already have?
It will be a downgrade in your ability to establish dominance. As well, how will having a twirler detract from the sound of your sticks?
Twirling a stick takes more skill, and the louder the sound of your stick, the more skill you have. So in this example, twirling your sticks will not affect your ability to sound your sticks as loud as you want them to sound.
Now let’s consider the various reasons why a drummer might want to twirl their sticks.
The drummer has twirled his own sticks too many times
There are three possible reasons why the drummer might want to twirl his sticks:
- They like the sound and feel of the twirl and like to have a stick to twirl. It’s a show of power.
- The sticks look cool. Twirling shows dominance.
Of course, some drummers do twirl their sticks because of the twirl’s sound and to show off. So, the answer is more likely: it’s the sound of the twirl.
The strongest thing the drummer can do is shake his or her sticks in the air. The sticks will be more likely to sound their loudest when the drummer feels powerful and dominant.
This all may seem irrelevant to the listening experience, but if a listener isn’t judging you based on your sticks’ sound and not the features of your playing, then this argument has some weight. The question the listener has to answer for themselves is, “Do I like the sound of a drum player’s sticks when they twirl them?”
And if they like it, then they will like the sound even more if you twirl them.
As well, if you were listening to a drumming solo, would you prefer the drummer to have a handful of twirls on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the loudest sound you could imagine, or would you rather have a pile of twirls on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the worst sound you could imagine? That’s the thing to consider with the sound of your sticks: the louder the sound of the sticks, the more likely you are to get a pile of twirls.
Another reason a drummer might want to twirl their sticks is because of social pressure. Most drummers won’t do it because they are afraid they will look bad.
A drummer’s image twirling his sticks for his own enjoyment is a serious breach of social decorum. However, that doesn’t mean that twirling your sticks is not a social norm.
In fact, it is just the opposite. When most of us hear someone twirling sticks, our first thought is, “Who is twirling their sticks? That guy in the video is obviously twirling his sticks; that must be cool, right?”
It’s when the drummer has to say, “I don’t twirl my sticks. I sound my sticks. I drum like that on purpose, not because I’m acting like a show-off. My sticks sound loud because I’m strong and they’re meant to be loud!”, that most people take offense.
Twirling sticks takes skill, and that’s one of the traits drummers don’t want to admit. When most people hear that a drummer doesn’t twirl their sticks, the effect is, “How could someone who can’t twirl their sticks be playing drums?”
So, if a drummer can’t twirl his sticks, then he has some other reason to spin the sticks. It might just be a behavior adopted by less confident drummers under pressure to perform, so they fake it.
The thing about twirling sticks is that it requires some skill. Even if you are a great drummer, you can only spin the sticks for a while before your arm gets tired.
If you’re like me and you have arms like sticks, this can take some practice. It also requires some concentration, and you have to balance yourself and focus on playing your part and not how awesome it is that you are twirling your sticks.
If a drummer believes that he or she doesn’t have the technique to spin their own sticks, then they can afford not to twirl them because it’s not required of them. They can carry on with their standard technique and play their part without worrying about keeping the sticks spinning and all that junk.
However, if a drummer finds that spinning their own sticks is fun and encourages them to play harder, they can afford to twirl their sticks. In fact, if a drummer spins their sticks, they can spin them forever!
There is no correct way to spin your own sticks.
Twirling sticks is an art form, so obviously, there’s no single right way to do it. Many drummers who have practiced twirling their sticks do it in a certain way, and I will try to explain how they do it, but that doesn’t mean that everyone does that.