How to get started on Brushes

Billy Cunningham

June 23, 2018

Welcome Students, Parents and Friends to the SDS monthly blog. I will be using this to keep you posted of all the latest SDS news, info, practise tips for students, photos, videos, social media and more.

This month’s Blog is on ‘Beginner Wire Brushes’. Playing with brushes is a great sound and there is a lovely art to playing wire brushes well. Brushes has a lighter touch to drum sticks for more acoustic music where playing with sticks would just be too loud. First of all let’s take a look at where playing with wire brushes started…

Fly Swatters?

Yep that’s absolutely true, you couldn’t make up such a story! In the year 1912 Fly Swatters were patented and drummers started using these as a light alternative to sticks! See the video below…

There are many great brush players in the world and one of the true legends of this is a wonderful drummer the late Joe Morello famous for playing on many classic jazz recordings including the iconic ‘Take Five’ by Dave Brubeck. See the video below of his wonderful brush playing.

How do you get started?

Brushes feel so different to sticks, It’s almost like starting again on a new instrument. Here are a few guidelines I recommend to getting started on brushes.

  1. Practise any rudiment you would normally practice with sticks (Singles, Doubles, Paradiddles, Flams etc. Play them around the drumkit, try to build some control and speed as you would with sticks.
  2. Play ANYTHING you would normally play with sticks, for example groove patterns, drum fill ideas etc. It can give your regular ideas a fresh sound and reinvent your favourite grooves and licks.
  3. Then the next step is to learn to incorporate sweeping motions on the snare into your groove feel. This can take some time to get comfortable so don’t rush, it will happen if you keep trying! Be careful to keep the beat even.

See my video below for a demonstration on how to get started on brushes, hope you enjoy it! Please ‘like’ the video, subscribe to my channel and if you have any questions please leave them in the comment box.

So I hope that this has been some help in learning how to play with wire brushes.

Have a great time drumming!



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