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Hi guys this month I'm talking about sticking related to the jazz phrasing.
It's important to understand when and where playing alternate/double stroke sticking.

As usual feel free to write me via email and subscribe to my youtube channel, facebook page and instagram.

check out my new record available in Vinyl and digital download:

Drums Organ Vibes Ensemble
"Here we Are"


ed saindon Wed, 11/27/2019 - 07:14

That was an excellent lesson Giovanni. Very clear and filled with good exercises in there. I'm looking forward to hearing the new recording. My best to your dad. Ed

giovanniperin Mon, 12/02/2019 - 03:51

In reply to by giovanniperin

It would be nice to have a closer look to your concept of 4 mallets sticking cause it's really a third way (in my opinion closer to a classical marimba player but applied to jazz).


tonymiceli Sun, 12/01/2019 - 12:08

Great lesson Giovanni! I think a little different about this.

I think it has nothing to do with old school and new school. It does have to do with phrasing, yes. I think the most important thing is to be able to alternate stick. That's first for me. Next not even thinking about phrasing, just as a necessity for sticking we have to double stick. I think both of these are important to know as mallet players. Regardless of this fine point your lessons is great and would be cool to talk about more.

giovanniperin Mon, 12/02/2019 - 03:49

In reply to by tonymiceli

You are right tony I should stress more about the phrasing results of alternate vs double stroke sticking.
As a matter of fact (and also because old classical teacher tent to think/teach this way) in the old day they preferred alternate.
I know you David and many more advance and modern player are using both with great results! and this is the way it should be taught.

tonymiceli Mon, 12/02/2019 - 10:50

first of all take me out of this. i'm sure a lot of players might not call me a modern player. maybe, maybe not. maybe i'm a more traditional player. i don't care.

of course there's phrasing differences, that goes without saying right?
probably the most modern young players out there are sasha berliner, chien chien and of course joel ross. i think it's important to note, that two of them joel and chien chien are two mallet players. is shasha? i bet you they do more alternate sticking. just pointing that out. and maybe i'm wrong. putting this here for discussion!

i know i disagree a bit with david as I think you have to have your alternate sticking together, period. that's what a mallet player needs first and foremost. maybe some of you disagree.

anyway, i think we are in agreement about all this giovanni, i'm just continuing the conversation.

let's see what other people say.

David Friedman Tue, 12/03/2019 - 10:26

In reply to by tonymiceli

I never said alternate sticking is not important. I think what a mallet player needs first and foremost is sticking flexibility. If you ONLY practice and use alternate sticking you'll trip over yourself in an improvising context. Sometimes one hears a line that is so awkward to execute with alternate sticking that double sticking in this intance is a must.
But what I DEFINITELY disagree with is the idea that one swings more with alternate sticking. That's like believing in the boogeyman!

tonymiceli Tue, 12/03/2019 - 11:39

In reply to by David Friedman

I guess honestly I think single sticking does swing more than double sticking.

When I double stick I think for a fraction of a second I am a 1 handed vibe player. Just for that instance. I know players who play chords in the left hand and solo with only the hand, doing lots of double sticking and triple sticking. Do you think that triple sticking swings like double sticking or single sticking? I guess it depends on the tempo. Another point right?

hmmm, maybe yet another point is when you use double sticking in the best way, you can swing. I def think you swing great (David) and I would say you use technique in a way that really serves the music so of course you swing. Maybe double sticking is a super power that can be used for good or evil!

The players I think swing the most are both 2 mallet players and primarily I think single stickers, using double sticking when needed.

Just my 2 cents. Putting it out there because this is a great place to talk about all this.

Randy_Sutin Tue, 12/03/2019 - 13:03

In reply to by tonymiceli

I was going to stay out of this particular conversation, largely because I openly admit that the technique I employ is arguably lame and even probably works against me from time to time; it may very well simply be the result of bad habits in many expert's opinions. I'm guilty as charged and, at 61, probably not going to change that much.

That said, Tony, I have to disagree with you about the swing/double sticking correlation. We often talk about how vibes can be more like guitar than piano, but this is the exception to that. Melodic patterns are not symmetrical on a vibraphone as they are on a guitar, so playing the same melodic phrase in a different key involves different motions on the instrument, which invariably results in different phrasing. For me, often the only way to play the same pattern with the same phrasing, but in a different key, is to use a different sticking.

I will go even further to say that sometimes, for me, the "awkward sticking" is superior for phrasing because it forces a note to pop out of the middle of a phrase that I wish to accent, often because I am bringing a hand a further distance than I might otherwise do and it has a bit more momentum. Yes, I am aware that the expert on this (Leigh) has a whole system of movement involving positioning the mallet and making the piston stroke which has, at its core, the intention of making it possible to make those large transgressions across the instrument without such effect. Yes! I think that is a hugely important concept to learn and practice. However, doing it "wrong" is one way to create an accent within a line that can be very useful when trying to articulate a bebop line and not lose the swing.

Given that we are hopefully making up a large part of what we do as improvising musicians in the moment and as we do it, it has always seemed sensible to me there is a need to be fluent with a variety of stickings. I find that, often, the obvious melody I wish to play for musical reasons is just not the one my hands are best prepared to play coming from the last line. A double stroke reverses whether I am leading a line with L or R, thus making that correction possible quickly and without disturbing the groove.

Bottom line, my vote is that the degree to which I can be more fluent with varied palette of stickings and accent patterns is exactly what will helps me swing, not hurts me.

tonymiceli Tue, 12/03/2019 - 17:05

In reply to by Randy_Sutin

i here you guys. but the sticking is very relevant. yes sometimes you have to double stick. and it's fine and it swings. i've watched drummers and many vibe players like you all have. my conclusion is single strokes swing better than double strokes as separate entities. Of course we use them together the next stick is already there, ready to go. we all double stick and yes with tricky sticking double sticking swings better than awkward single sticking.

i know many of you won't agree, and maybe someone will change my mind. but not yet. my top most swinging mallet players are ultimately single stickers and 2 mallet players. a lot of 4 mallet players i know play great and i love listening to them, but when you start throwing in lots of technique the feel starts to go even at a tiny level. in my mind that's how the switch works in our brain. IMHO. I assume I'm in the minority but I do think I'm right so far.


Randy_Sutin Tue, 12/03/2019 - 18:01

In reply to by tonymiceli

So, in my several encounters with him, he said very little to me about music. He didn’t remember my name even. But he did offer me this after hearing me play a set one day when I was still in my 20’s.

He said, “Don’t ever forget that you’re playing a drum. You wouldn’t play all those rhythms on a snare drum with single strokes would you? It’s all rudiments. Don’t forget that.”

Apparently, I had or he wouldn’t have said that. :)

David Friedman Tue, 12/03/2019 - 18:23

In reply to by Randy_Sutin

I don't mean to be a total jerk, but...Tony......What are you talking about drummers who use single strokes and, as you say, swing more? What? Single strokes on the snare drum? Everything drummers do that's NOT on the snare drum, moving around the drums, is done with DOUBLE STICKING! The ride cymbal...That's what speaks the truth about whether a drummer swings..It's all ONE HAND! Or doubles..d'ding, d'ding! Or am I missing something here? Finally a heated discussion on VW!!!! :-)

tonymiceli Wed, 12/04/2019 - 09:23

In reply to by David Friedman

i love it!

here's what i think. physically playing single stroke rolls are different from playing double stroke rolls. Considering muscles, your hands, your arms and your brain. Does anyone really doubt that part? so from a physical point of view these strokes are not the same. so that means the outcomes are not that same. they don't produce the same results. different muscles etc.

i think of it like this. play a solo with only single strokes. in fact play it on only 1 bar. now play a solo with ONLY double sticking. No single sticking at all. Quite different. I'm talking about isolating them. 1 or the other. No play a solo, 1 with alternate sticking and 1 with ONLY double sticking. I would argue that the alternate sticking is easier, more flexible and swings more. That's how I think of all this. It might be stupid to you guys, but when someone says Double sticking swings as much as single sticking. I isolate them to figure it out. They produce different results. I think completely different results. And that's the point. Each has a set of strengths and weaknesses. Now when used together everything changes. I would also argue it's easier to ONLY play single sticking than it is to only play double sticking.

Yes drummers play a pattern on the cymbals. But that's a pattern. We are talking about solos and the difference between single and double strokes. I'm isolating them to see if there is a difference. And there is. The thing is to define that difference. And that's what we are doing. If I had to pick which type of stroke swings better I would argue using 2 arms swings more than using 2 arms half the time.

BTW, I do like heated discussions. I think that's how we grow. And you my fine Brooklyn Friend are quite an accomplished player so getting you heated up and getting your opinion is a great thing. I do wish more people would give their opinions!


Randy_Sutin Wed, 12/04/2019 - 11:00

In reply to by tonymiceli

Yep. I would never play a whole line, much less a whole solo, with only double stickings. Of course, I would say the same thing about single strokes.

Just like everyone, I have practiced scales and arpeggios with single strokes (leading with both left and right); I am very aware that some of them just don't flow well that way because of crossed stickings, etc.

For those who are reading this that don't quite get what I am saying, play a Bb and a B scale, tonic to tonic, for two octaves, up and down, leading with both hands, alternate strokes; The Bb scale will naturally flow better starting with the left hand and the B scale with the right. I still practice both of them to make sure I can do it if I need to.

But here is another option for Bb going up (reverse to go down) LRRLRLRLRRLRLRL. ...And here is one for B: RLLRLRLRLLRLRLR. Not that I would always play them this way, but just as an example. You gotta admit that the lack of crossed stickings make that a really more relaxed way to have the scale just flow out, which is at the core of the concept of swing.

Bottom Line: When I play, I use whatever feels best for me in that situation. Real lines only occasionally begin on tonic, and rarely only move in one direction at a time if they are well composed, so the actual scales/arpeggios practiced are only a starting point for that anyway. Basically, it seems you are saying the same thing. When they are helpful, you use double strokes. They are not your norm. They aren't mine either. But, I wouldn't be able to make most of my lines flow and swing without them.

David Friedman Wed, 12/04/2019 - 12:59

In reply to by Randy_Sutin

Tony.... NOBODY plays a WHOLE solo using double strokes! It would never happen One uses them for a certain kind of LEGATO phrasing, OR to make certain awkward phrases easier to execute. Now..go to page 36, etude nr. 22 in "Dampening and Pedaling". Play thr first 2 1/2 bars playing each 4 note pattern LLRR. That DEFINITELY doesn't swing less than playing everything with alternate sticking, AND it's smoother" If you stretch the 4 note gropupings a bit, playing then somewhat layed back you'll see what I mean. Ideally, one mixes double sticked phrases with alternately-sticked patterns. It gives you a real variety of phrasing and articulation and if you don't phrase the double-sticked lines like a dixieland player you'll swing like a MF!!!

tonymiceli Thu, 12/05/2019 - 10:38

In reply to by David Friedman

I”m having fun! You said double sticking swings as much as alternate. It does not in my opinion. If you want to say alternate sticking with double sticking swings the most. Ok, I can grant you that. But as two separate entities, alternate sticking swings more. So I would tell my students, your first priority is to make sure you have your alternate sticking together. Your second is double sticking. That’s if I had to put this in order. But I think it’s cool if a student studies double sticking and gets all the good stuff out of it and incorporates it. I think that’s what you do David.

There is definitely something about LRLRLRLRLRLRLRLRLRLRL and adding accents that is to me more cool than any LLRRLLRRLLRRRRLLRRLLLLLRRR. That’s what I’m saying. If it’s either or, it’s alternate. Next is double sticking. And that’s how most of us play. Mostly alternate sticking with added double sticking.

I have so much fun with alternate sticking. I just love it. I love playing lines like that to no end. So that’s where I’m coming from.

This is just how I think. You made a comparison and I compared. Didn’t combine, I, compared to make an informed decision. I think that’s important, at least to me. I’m sure some of you guys think I’m crazy but that’s how I think.

tonymiceli Thu, 12/05/2019 - 13:48

In reply to by David Friedman

it's anecdotal. I know what you mean precisely. I've sat in many of your workshops where you talk about double sticking and I agree with most of what you say. You are the master of all this. I don't argue any of this.

You have two bars that sound better double sticking. I'm sure those two bars sound better double sticked. I'm arguing that double sticking swings equal to alternate sticking overall. And I'm saying over all alternate sticking swings more. Overall. I'm saying play an (only) alternate sticking solo and then play a (only) double sticking solo. There we can see the limitations of double sticking as well as the limitations of alternate sticking.

Students should really have their alternate sticking together, and of course they're double sticking as well. I tell my students that alternate sticking swings harder than double sticking for many reasons including muscles and physics and articulation. (not that I know anything about physics) (Did you add in your mind "Yeah Miceli, and you nothing about articulation either Mo' Fo'). However alternate sticking can't stand alone, we need to master double sticking as well. The combination of the two is what makes a vibe player great. And how they use the two. Most if not all of us play way more alternate sticking than double sticking.

And I understand why 2 mallet players prefer 2 mallets. Overall I believe that two mallets swing harder than 4 mallets. I think that difference is not too bad so I play with 4 mallets. And 2 mallet players can do more alternate sticking I think.

Sorry I know I might be driving you crazy, but I'm not giving in unless someone really changes my mind.

Combining double sticking and alternate sticking is the way to go. Learning when and how to use double sticking and where. That's my 2 cents. To many vibe players do way too much double sticking. They comp with the left hand and only solo with the right. It sounds lame to me most of the time. The great players Beg, Borrow and Steal the left hand when needs to provide a lot of alternate sticking.

AND YOUR book "Dampening and Pedaling" is the master book to achieve all this. I tell all my students if you complete D&p and play each etude well, you have mastered the instrument technically and musically. It puts alternate and double sticking together in a great way and shows how and where you can use them. No other book does this. IMHO

tonymiceli Thu, 12/05/2019 - 14:30

In reply to by tonymiceli

I guess we can agree on the fact that if the player swings, then whatever they play will swing. Right? You heard Milt pick up Samuels mallets and play and sound like Milt right? Maybe that's a good way to close the argument.

jeffalpert Fri, 12/20/2019 - 13:17

In reply to by David Friedman

I completely agree but that's probably because I learned that from you, David. The fact that the first note of the double stroke is stronger than the second makes for an almost built-in swing.

David Friedman Sun, 12/08/2019 - 05:23

In reply to by tonymiceli

That's great!!! Who IS this guy? I'll find him! But on a more serious note... Did I just read is your next to last comment that 2 mallet players swing more than 4 mallet players? You wanted to close the discussion and then you drop a bomb like this????

tonymiceli Sun, 12/08/2019 - 10:07

In reply to by David Friedman

I know! This is just stuff I think about and make decisions on in my head. Everything is a trade off for something else and a benefit for what you are doing. I see two mallet players comp or use 4 mallets and it’s so limited for the most part. They gave that up for something else. That’s the main part, I believe every benefit comes with a cost. The goal is to minimize the costs or adapt to the benefit. I always thought Burton did that. He played music that fit his style. That’s what I think anyway. Just an opinion.

vibraman Sun, 12/08/2019 - 07:34

beside double or alternate sticking, what means swings harder? does it mean it has more triple feel like in the old days? maybe some players don´t want it to sound like that but more even. if you listen to modern drummers you can hear it all the time.

i bet some one could record a line in a medium tempo with double and alternate sticking and nobody of you could hear the difference.

i´m no pro but hardly believe whatever works for someone is good. look your grip tony...most of us couldn´t play like can. this is just 1 example.

i have this old linol hampton book called "the new vibraphon method" in there every scale and chord break ups are written out in both ways: alternate and double sticking and also starting with the left and right hand...i think this is simply the best way to learn then you can decide what fits best for you if you can play either way. unfortunatley this method takes a lot of time :)

just my 2 cents

tonymiceli Sun, 12/08/2019 - 10:05

In reply to by vibraman

Right Tarik, and that’s the main point. My opinion is simple that. What is swing to you, what is great to you, etc.

These are simply the things I think about and believe (for now). They are for talking and discussing and that’s it. And you sum things up really well.

And you need to know both alternate and double sticking. You have to be proficient in both of them.

Have not seen you in a long time, hope you are well!



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