The following is a very meandering post that will, hopefully, arrive at what I feel is an important point. But you might need to be patient.

From where I’m sitting, it seems like the reason kick drum technique is a big deal among drummers is due to an ongoing argument about how to play a bunch of kick drum hits super fast with a single pedal, because apparently playing a bunch of super fast kick drum hits with a single pedal is “awesome” and “technical” and stuff.

Regarding that, I would like to humbly suggest that playing lots of fast kick drum notes on a single pedal is NOT necessarily awesome or technical, at least not objectively or inherently.

Premise #1 for today’s post is to rethink whether you should even want to play lots of fast kick drum notes. Meaning, will the music you’re playing be improved as a whole if you add lots of fast kick drum notes? If so, then does it really matter if a single pedal is used to play them instead of a double pedal? If you’re answer is “yes” to either of these questions and you’re not shooting a video for gospelchops.com then you should really reconsider.

Disclaimer: Once again let me reiterate that I’m speaking from my own experiences here – what playing drums for twenty years has taught me. Feel free to disagree, especially if you’ve had experiences that contradict what I’m saying.

Now then… premise #1 is that lots of super fast kick drum notes on a single pedal doesn’t automatically get you any extra cool points. Perhaps if those fast kick drum notes were appropriate and fitting for the song, and if the notes were played right in the pocket with clean execution… well, then that’s great. But I find those circumstances to be pretty rare. I’m moving on to premise #2 now, which is that TWO kick drum notes in quick succession (not lots of notes – only two) is a very useful component throughout many styles of drumming.

But what does “quick succession” mean? Bear with me here… I know I’m jumping around in a lot in the discussion…

Clarification on premise #2: “Quick succession” for two kick drum notes is defined as any two notes that require a special technique to play because they are so close together. Think back to the heel-up technique from my first kick drum post. Normal heel-up kick technique means that every note has an upward motion of the leg to prepare for the stroke, and then a downward motion to execute the stroke (you can see when a drummer is doing this because the knee is visibly moving up and down for every note played). So, if a drummer is wanting to play two kick drum notes in a row, and in order to facilitate this the drummer needs to do something technique-wise other than the standard heel-up motion, then I would say that those kick drum notes are happening in “quick succession.” In my private lessons I call these notes “doubles”… two kick drum hits in quick succession that require an alternative technique to heel-up. “Singles” are notes that are played each with the standard heel-up technique. So a drummer can play either “singles” or “doubles” on the kick drum.

Again, let me reiterate what I said at the beginning… I’m NOT talking about more than two notes in quick succession. I basically don’t care about that. And I’m also not talking about using a double kick pedal. I’m currently discussing the situation where a drummer wants to play ONLY two notes in a row, and I’m suggesting that there are two ways to do this: Play “singles” (because the two notes are far enough from each other that the standard heel-up technique can be used for each one), or play “doubles” (because the two notes are so close together that some other technique must be used to pull off both notes).

You’ll notice that I’m saying that doubles involve “some other technique” than heel-up, and that particular wording is intentionally vague because today’s post isn’t meant to point you toward a specific doubles technique. I don’t really care too much about that. I have one that I use, and it works great, but I’m sure there are other equally helpful techniques for doubles.

Ok. Onward to premise #3 (the real reason for this post): If a drummer spends enough time working on the heel-up “singles” technique, a doubles technique may never be needed at all. This is obviously fanciful thinking, but it’s at least logically true. Imagine that I spend a ton of time practicing my singles technique – always playing notes in pairs with individual heel-up leg motions for each note – and regularly push myself to get better and stronger and faster at this. The way I defined “doubles” above (two kick drums so close that they need a technique besides heel-up) implies that the heel-up technique can’t adequately cover your two kick drums notes if they’re played at a certain bpm or higher.

But a drummer can always raise a bpm ceiling by practicing.

SOOOO… at least in theory… if someone had a strong enough “singles” technique (where any and all kick hits, regardless of whether they’re alone or in pairs on in a sequence of 7 notes or something, are always played with a strong heel-up technique), then that person would never reach a bpm ceiling and therefore never need a doubles technique. This would require immense work/effort/practice, but it is within the realm of being possible.

Like I said, it’s somewhat unrealistic to think that a “doubles” technique would NEVER be needed because your singles technique is so amazing. But why not at least work toward that? Why not try to relegate your doubles technique to something that you only need every once in a while?

Again, I’m speaking from experience here. I did this in college, back in my heavy practicing days. I just sat there and cranked out 16th notes on my kick drum (with quarters on the hats and backbeats on the snare… like a huge 16-on-the-floor groove) for HOURS and HOURS until my thigh just burned. Then I would stand up and walk around and get the blood flowing and go do it again. As a result, at this point I truly don’t need my doubles technique very often at all.

SUMMARY: Consider the possibility that practicing your singles technique (playing lots of kick notes, each with individual heel-up motions on the leg) is your best and most productive way to strengthen your kick foot, rather than spending time on whatever your doubles technique is.

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