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Moeller Technique: 3 Fundamental Exercises

What is the Moeller Technique?

The Moeller technique is an approach to playing the drums that allows you to to play quickly but in a relaxed way.  It can be broken down into 3 basic motions: the whip or Down-Stroke, the rebound or tap stroke, and the upstroke.  If you are serious about mastering the technique than weekly private lessons is the best way to learn it properly.

Moeller Fundamentals – Jim Chapin Note from 1965 (Free PDF)

Moeller Fundamentals - Jim Chapin Note

Why learn this technique?

Because it will make you a better drummer!  Playing “relaxed” is the key word here.  When you can play what you want on the drums without much tension you end up having a great feel.  It will also allow you to play quickly.  Although speed isn’t the main goal of drumming, when the time comes for that drum solo you’ll be happy to add a bit of flash to your drum game.  Lastly, you will avoid injury and even heal existing injuries!  For me, this was the main motivation to learn the technique.  When drumming doesn’t leave you in pain for hours after you play you simply end up loving it way more 🙂

So how does one develop the Moeller Technique?

It is usually learnt with 3 basic exercises that are meant to be practised hands separately.  Once these 3 exercises are mastered, the technique can be applied to pretty much every rudiment or playing situation.

Exercises:

The 3-note Moeller: Usually played in triplets. This is the first exercise which uses all the elements of the technique.  Each tier of the triplet uses a different movement.  The first part of the triplet is played as the whip or down-stroke.  On the PDF, this stroke is depicted using a white downward facing triangle for the right hand and a black triangle for the left. The 2nd tier uses the tap or rebound, which is a small circle on the PDF.  Finally the 3rd tier uses the up-stroke which is depicted using an upward facing triangle.

3 note moeller technique

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The 4-note Moeller: This exercise is played in eighth notes or 16th notes because it uses 4 notes.  It is the same as the previous exercise, however an extra tap stroke or circle is added.

4 note moeller technique

 

The 2-note Moeller: this is perhaps the hardest one because it requires more quick and relaxed wrist control.  The movement uses only down-strokes and up-strokes.

2 note moeller technique

Moeller Technique Exercises: Putting it all together

The following 2 exercises are a great way to incorporate all three fundamental exercises into one.  It’s basically a sequence to be played in 16th notes and then in triplets.  It involves walking through the 3 basic exercises in 16th notes and then in triplets.  These should be practised hands separately and then in unison together.

16th Note Moeller Flow Exercise:

Triplet Moeller Flow Exercise:

 

Famous teachers

There are 3 important people to thank for passing on this technique through the ages.  Sandford Moeller is the “inventor” of the technique.  He apparently did not invent it, but simply learnt it through observation of other great drummers at the time.  He did develop a system to teach and pass it on.  Jim Chapin, his student, is credited for having passed on to the next generation of drummers.

Freddie Gruber

Lastly, Freddie Gruber taught the Moeller technique to a wide list of world renowned drummers.  Freddie Gruber brought forth another level of subtlety to the technique by focusing on developing the inside of the students hand, emphasizing the important role of the different fingers and the wrist.   

How I learnt the Moeller technique:

I personally learnt the technique by studying with disciples of Chapin and Gruber.  I first studied with Jacob Kaye out of Montreal who taught me the basic movements.  Jacob had studied with Jim Chapin back in the 1970’s.  I eventually hit a wall however and couldn’t reach a high level of speed or relaxation. 

Bruce Becker

I eventually came across Bruce Becker, a renowned teacher based in Los Angeles.  Becker studied extensively with Freddie Gruber as well as Jim Chapin.  Bruce Becker is known for his extremely detailed explanations of the mechanics of the movements.  He breaks everything down into clear simple steps that allow you to fully understand and digest the different components that are involved in the movements. Under Becker’s guidance, I finally broke through. Although there is no end to where you can take the technique, I can finally say that i’ve finally mastered the fundamentals. I can use and understand it in the context of my own drumming as well as pass it on to my own students.

Why you won’t learn the Moeller Technique on youtube alone

The previous information is widely available on youtube, however the hard truth is, you probably won’t be able to learn it properly by simply following these exercises.  the reason being that these exercise are actually a mixture of several other techniques that need to be broken down into bite sized chunks.  You might be able to get it down to a certain extent, but you will eventually hit a wall. 

Building Blocks

An example of the building blocks to the Moeller technique includes determining the correct placement on the stick within your hand.  in other words, where the stick rests inside the hand and which fingers play an active role in holding it.  Another prerequisite is rebound, you need to have a solid understanding of rebound and so before diving into the Moeller technique you will need to learn learn various exercises on rebound. 

Find a good teacher

The blunt old fashion reality is that if you are serious about learning this technique, find drum lessons in Montreal to show you the steps.   I feel lucky to have found Bruce, so I would recommend studying with him through Skype or if you live in the Los Angeles area to book a home lesson.  If you are not willing to pay his high lesson fee, I also teach and have passed on the technique to several several young drummers here in Montreal. 


Elijah is a university-educated drummer with extensive experience for both teaching and musical performance.  Since completing his Bachelor of Music degree at Concordia University in 2010, he has played music across each province in Canada and in more than 20 countries around the world. For information about private lessons at his studio in Montreal or for lessons on Skype visit: Elijah Drums

 


 

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