The Moeller method, or moeller technique, is named for drummer Sanford A. Moeller, as described in his book The Art of Snare Drumming, also called The Moeller Book. It is believed that he described the method after observing drummers who had fought in Civil War in the 19th century. He later taught the system to Jim Chapin in 1938 and 1939. Chapin worked to popularize this method until his death in 2009.
The method combines a variety of techniques with the goal of improving hand speed, power, and control while offering the flexibility to add accented notes at will. The method has been perceived in the drumming community as a secret method. It is considered difficult to learn and no consensus has been reached as to what this technique actually consists of.
The technique uses a specific "whipping motion" that allows gravity to do most of the work, allowing the drummer to play faster, by staying relaxed. It has been promoted as requiring significantly less effort and carrying less risk of injury than other methods. Some are of the opinion that this method incorporates a whip followed by rebounds. Chapin asserts in his video that the technique does not rely on the rebound - that you must master the hand motion while playing each note as an actual stroke - while Dave Weckl in this video says it does rely on the rebound.
The Moeller book discusses two different right hand grips for traditional grip: the little finger or vintage grip and the modern thumb fulcrum grip. Moeller's favorite grip is pictured on page 4. His 2-grips concept, missed and overlooked by many, was pointed out by Moeller advocate, Tommy William Hanson, in a 2004 online article reviewing Moeller's book .
Gripping the right drumstick with the little finger was normally associated with 'ancient style' drumming, aka, a pre 1920s grip style that was normally taught to military drummers going back to the American Revolution.
The 'vintage' grip consisted of pressing or gripping the drumstick predominately with the little finger. The other fingers would then be curled gently around the drumstick without pressing tightly. With this approach, the fulcrum is situated at the back of the hand. Besides being the recognized vintage right hand grip, the grip also works well for heavy rock drumming and can provide a heavy back beat using little effort on the part of the drummer.
In contrast, the thumb fulcrum right hand grip (the second recognized grip in 'The Moeller Book') works better for jazz drum set, rendering closed rolls and for playing cymbal rhythms that require a more delicate touch.
- Moeller, Sanford A. (1954). The Moeller Book. Ludwig Music Publishing. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
- YouTube - Jim Chapin - The Definitive Moeller Explanation
- Several (explanations and demonstrations) via drum videos on Moeller Method - by Jacob Kaye (former student of Jim Chapin)
- YouTube - Jim Chapin on the Moeller Technique.
- YouTube - Manuel Bartholdy explains Moeller Technique
- YouTube - Jeff Queen - Moeller Demo
- YouTube - Moeller Demo - Two notes each Hand
- YouTube - Dave Weckl on the Moeller Technique
- Everything you ever wanted to know about Sanford A Moeller's Book and were never told