Shifting vs. Crossing


Ok…. just in case some of you are unfamiliar with these terms…you’re about to be enlightened.

Shifting and crossing are two sticking methods, in which the player’s hands  move from one drum to another drum. When you cross between two drums, starting on drum numero uno, the first hand crosses over the other hand’s wrist to drum numero dos, then the hand that got crossed over moves under the a fore mentioned hand, to end up on drum numero dos with his amigo. It’s a nutty game of leapfrog.

Shifting, on the other hand, is much less jovial, and more serious. Both hands stay in their matched positions and never break ranks. Let me explain…. if you are playing the sticking RLRL on the drum to your right, and then you want to go directly to the drum on the left, playing RLRL, after your last L on the right drum, you would shift both arms at the same time to the left drum. This way, the playing position stays in its nice, tidy ranks….capice?

Now to the heart of this discussion…. which method should you use….and when? Before that though, it should be said that as the superstar timpanist that you are, or will be, you must be completely comfortable with either method. 15 minutes of each method, per day, of random calisthenic type drills should get you in nice shape. You can basically take any snare drum method book, such as Stick Control, by George Stone, and find a page that has running notes, with sticking’s, like the one on page 5 of the above-mentioned book. Simply play these sticking’s on two drums…. then after a while, adding another drum…then, a fourth drum, perhaps. The more creative you are, the better.

So, now, which method when. It really depends on the situation. Speed could be a determining factor. Generally, most human beings can cross faster than shift, so that could answer the “which one” question right there. Or maybe it’s a flow thing. Crossing can have a bit more swing or feel…or whatever you want to call it. Maybe you’re going for very even articulation in a Beethoven or Mozart Symphony, this would probably be best accomplished by shifting.

Sometimes, I have no idea what method I’m gonna use and it just depends on my mood that day…. you don’t need to over analyze these things.  But, what I do know is that you need to be the cat’s meow on both methods, so that you can “call up” either method at will. That way, you can just have fun playing, which is what we’re all shootin for….amigo.