What Every Drummer Should Know About Drumming With Brushes

Drumming with brushes is a skill for the 21st century and beyond. In this article, learn about brushes technique, the kinds of music you can use them in, the brushes I use and how you can learn drumming with brushes too.

Brushes changed my drumming destiny

One day my high school band teacher Kent Rausch busted into a groovin’ samba beat drumming with brushes. That moment changed my life.

Up until that point, I was mostly a sticks drummer. The year before, I had the opportunity to study a bit with the great Jeff Hamilton at a Jazz camp and got some brushing basics under my belt.

I still wasn’t sure how to use them in my playing but after seeing Mr. Rausch play Samba, I was sold. Brushes would become half of my drumming focus for the next 35 years.

Brushes technique

I could actually write an entire book on the brushes technique that drummers’ use and have used over the years. Regarding drum grip, some drummers play with traditional grip and some with matched grip.

Many drummers like to slide their left had to the middle of the brush and others play it closer to the end.

Drumming brushes technique varies from one drummer to the next. This is choking up on the left brush.
Choking up on the left drum brush.
The technique for playing drumming brushes is different for different drummers. This is the standard left hand grip position for brushes.
Regular left drum brush position.

Some drummers like the feel of clockwise motion with circular brushes patterns and others like a counter-clockwise motion. Digging in (pushing down harder) with the brushes vs. a lighter touch is another thing I see in drummers’ brush playing.

So many factors go into a drummer’s style brush playing. This is one of the biggest reasons I think drumming brushes make it so easy to create our individual sound.

Brushes Jazz drumming

Most of the time, we associate drumming with brushes and playing Jazz on the drums. Of course, brushes have a long history of playing Jazz music. However, I often use drumming brushes when I play Funk, Hip-Hop, R & B, Soul, Samba (like Mr. Rausch) and tons of the music styles.

Playing some Pop music with drumming brushes.

In the video above, I’m playing more of an eighth note beat but incorporating some Jazzy circular motions into the groove. The smooth factor in brush playing gives me many more sounds and textures than simply using sticks alone.

Vic Firth brushes

I have used the Vic Firth Heritage brushes for over a decade now. I’ve used many other models over the years but the Heritage brushes are it for me.

I’ve actually written another article about these brushes too. It’s a kind of product review and will give you more details about why I like these brushes the best for my drumming.

The best drumming brushes.
If you’re looking for a well-balanced, durable and reasonably priced drumming brush, the Vic Firth Heritage brush will do the trick! Using this affiliate link is a convenient way to get your brushes and an easy way to support this blog. Thank you πŸ€™

Brush playing

Simply said, brush playing will add a whole new dimension to your drumming and get you more gigs. Through my brush playing, I have found creative and fun ways to make music sound better in recording sessions, live performances and at rehearsals.

Drummers who can use brushes get called for a much wider range of gigs than drummers who can only use drum sticks. In Fact, EVERY professional drummer I know, can use drumming brushes to some degree.

Drumming with brushes is often, however, the weakest part of a drummer’s skill set. I hear drummers say that brushes are very difficult to learn. These same drummers also say that they’d love to use brushes more in their playing.

How to play drums with brushes

Because of this problem, I decided to create a drum brushes course to help drummers who want to improve their brush playing.

In my Brushes Mastery Course, I have helped many drummers use brushes in their Jazz, Latin, Funk, Hip-Hop and other styles of drumming. I’d love to help you too.

Improve your brush playing.


Drumming with brushes

As music continues to evolve, we as drummers have to evolve too. More than ever, producers, sound engineers, song-writers and arrangers are looking for alternate sound sources for sampling and music production.

Drumming with brushes can meet that demand giving us countless additional sounds and textures for our gigs. These sounds and textures can be used in virtually every style of modern music, not only in Jazz. The only limitation we have in playing brushes, is our imagination.

At my store, I sell drum tracks of me playing brushes. These are popular with music producers, composers and arrangers. They often sample my sounds, or slice and dice my tracks and arrange them with their compositions.

Thanks Mr. Rausch for the inspiration! Learn to play this exact groove in my brushes course.

I believe the uses for drumming brushes in music will continue to grow and the demand for this skill will increase in the future. Now is a great time to add brushes to your skill set and open up new playing opportunities.

If you’d like to dig deeper into brush playing, you might also enjoy another article I wrote about the art of playing brushes. I encourage you to explore drumming with brushes and see how they can improve the expressiveness and musicality of your drumming.

Are you comfortable drumming with brushes?

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