Getting a good sound from timpani requires the player to not only play the drum on the correct playing spot but to also have the proper striking technique with the mallet. Remember; the best playing spot on the timpano is about 3 inches from the rim of the drum and directly in front of the player. When striking the drum it is important that the mallet come off the head smoothly as if it were not even being held by the player. A fun experiment can help the player understand this and develop a smooth stroke.
Watch the Video Lesson to Learn How to Develop Your Timpani Stroke
Here’s a fun experiment to help you practice Timpani strokes:
For this experiment you need a ball type mallet and not a cartwheel mallet.
Here’s the step by step process:
- Hold the mallet by the tip of the handle so that the ball is about 18 inches above the drum.
- Now, drop the mallet straight down onto the playing spot and catch it as it bounces from the drum.
- Do it again and watch the motion of the stick as it drops, hits the head and then bounces up again.
Listen to the sound and how resonant the drum sounds. There’s no harsh attack; just tone from the drum. The motion of the dropped stick is natural. It drops, hits the head and immediately bounces up. There is no hesitation anywhere and the entire process from the drop to the catch is completely smooth. This is what your Timpani stroke should emulate when you hold the stick in a playing manner. Try to copy the exact movement of the dropped stick with your playing motion. Go back and forth from a drop to a stroke and make sure that you watch as well as listen to everything.
You will soon be able to make your stroke look and sound just like the dropped mallet. Make sure you do this with both hands.