Tenor Drum Playing Zones

Dc header tenor drum playing zones

Tenor drum playing zones are a crucial fundamental when it comes to playing tenors on a drumline.  Playing with proper playing zones on tenors helps you be more efficient your technique motions and also allows you to play with great tone quality.  In this Drumline Chops Tech Tip, Matt Penland is going to teach you the fundamentals of tenor drum playing zones as well as a quick trick that you can use to play with consistent playing zones.  Let's get started.


Why Tenor Drum Playing Zones Are Important

It goes without saying that if you play an instrument incorrectly, you're going to get a poor tone out of it.  By understanding what the proper playing zones are on a set of quad drums, you put yourself in a situation to consistently play with great tone quality.

Another reason tenor drum playing zones are so important is they help you make your motions more efficient as you move across the drums.  Knowing where the tenor stick should make contact with the drumhead gives you something to aim for as you practice your drumline music or drumline exercises.  By aiming for proper playing zones every single time you play a drum, you develop efficient motions within your technique and become a more consistent player.


Tenor Drum Playing Zones Video


How to Play with Great Playing Zones on Tenors

When you're focusing on playing with proper playing zones on tenor drums, you want to think about two things.

1) Play about an inch away from the rim of the drum.  If you play too close to the rim of any of the drums, you'll get a high pitched tone with a lot of resonance to it.  If you play too far away from the drum (in the middle of the drumhead), you'll get a very dry and dead sounding tone. By playing an inch or two away from the rim, you find a balance between the two extremes and your tone will be clear and articulate with a balanced blend of resonance and low end support.

2) Keep Your Tenor Drum Playing Zones in a Straight Line.  Even though tenor drums are built and arranged in a semicircle, think of your tenor drum playing zones as a straight line across the four front drums. If you do this, you will prevent yourself from pulling your elbows back when you move to drum three and drum four.  The reason you want to avoid this is because pulling your elbow back can a cause extra stress in your arm joints as well as slow you down from moving back across the drums in the opposite direction if needed. Another reason you want to avoid pulling your arms back when you play on drum three and drum four is the fact that you want to maintain a consistent technique across the entire set of tenor drums.  If you change your technique for two of them by pulling back, you won't have as much consistency in your technique.


Why Consistency is Key

Playing with perfect playing zones on a set of tenor drums is challenging, especially when you're first getting the hang of it.  However, it's important that every time you play on a set of quads, you strive to play with perfect playing zones.


Well, even though you may miss some of the playing zones every now and then, striving to play them perfectly every single time will raise your standards and make you much more consistent than you would be if you were to just acknowledge them and then forget about them. As a result, always strive to play with perfect playing zones on your tenor drums so that you can develop a high level of consistency in your playing.


Tenor Drum Playing Zones Conclusion

Tenor drum playing zones are important to pay attention to because they help you play with good tone quality on the quad drums and help you play with more efficient motions as you move around the drums.  In order to play with great tenor drum playing zones, thing about playing about an inch away from the rim of the drum and keeping your tenor drum playing zones in a straight line across the front four drums.  By applying these things to your own quad drumming, you should be able to significantly increase your understanding of tenor drum playing zones as well as your ability to play more consistently.

Get FREE Drumline Exercises Today!

Create an account and get free drumline lessons, exercises, and routines that help you break through your glass ceiling and turbocharge your chops!


Pat McLaughlin

29 January 2013 in Education
Pat mclaughlin headshot

Pat McLaughlin

Pat McLaughlin is the founder of Drumline Chops.  He graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in music education and is currently the percussion director at West Bloomfield High School.