At 51, my hands still work at fairly fast and powerful level. I owe that to the Moeller method learned as a teenager, but also, to a certain way of warming up that still serves me well.

Living with Tourette Syndrome poses many challenges, but drumming has always served to help me control it and to unwind. The speed at which people with Tourette’s think is blinding sometimes, and finally in my fifth decade, things are slowing down… a bit… and I don’t mind it too much.

For most of my life, however, the blazing neural activity has made it difficult to contain the flurry of sounds that race through my head. I spent my teen years developing my hands to play as fast as I possibly could simply to get the ideas OUT OF MY HEAD.

I really did hear and think in terms of the blazing licks, the washes of sounds that would scream across the drum set… and did try to make them musical…

Point being: the fast you can think, the faster you can eventually play, if your program your hands correctly.  Speed is fun, but when you are working with other musicians, it must be used musically. Hard to remember when you brain is on fire…

I start my warm-up nowadays with smooth, quiet, brushwork, just moving my hands in circles to make a nice, unbroken sound. I then keep time for about ten minutes at different tempos, paying very close attention to the weight of the brushes in my hands.

I do single and double stroke rolls, triplets and paradiddles in various combinations, paying close attention as well to the sound I am creating. It’s as much a physical warm-up as it is a mental one.

Then I switch to sticks, going through some off the same basic rudiments… focusing very closely on the VOLUME LEVEL. This helps relax my mind and my hands. It’s simply too easy to just smack the hell outta the drums and not reign yourself in. But, you must, because you have to be musically responsible.

Anyway, about 30 minutes of this, and my hands are ready to play. My mind is too, and since that’s where it all originates, it makes sense to link the hands and brain up for the ride to come…

I also have a second practice method, a more specific one, that I manage to get in nightly. I went to a Peter Erskine clinic last April, and they were handing out freebies. The best one was a VIC FIRTH RUDIMENTS poster with the 40 International rudiments. It takes about 30 minutes to go through all of them at a medium tempo, repeating Left and then Right hand starting versions. Like the general practice method I mentioned above, I switch stick weights and also switch grips throughout the week.

I was amazed at how quickly my hands came back into overall shape. I can’t recommend the use of this chart and the rudiments enough, and I’m really glad that Vic Firth puts so much emphasis on education. Their website has a ton of stuff on it if you haven’t checked it out lately, with lots of instructional videos.  It’s http://www.vicfirth.com

Whatever you use to keep the hands in shape, the good news is, we are wired to drum. It never really goes away… but you probably already knew that…