Master Playing Bucks

A few days ago, Sergio a question from how to teach young players to master playing bucks:

Here’s his question:


“Hey Anthony, I just found out about your website and I appreciate what you’ve done!!  I wanted to ask you for an approach on how to teach young girls (middle / high school) to master playing bucks.  Usually, the marching sticks are way too heavy for their little muscles.  It’s difficult for them to control the accented down stroke.  Any advice would be helpful.

Don’t get me wrong, young males also have trouble controlling the down stroke because of their little muscles as well.  Just wanted to see if the information is the same for males, as it is for females.




Thanks for the kind words Sergio and here are my responses:

Sergio, if you want to help your students master playing anything, particular bucks then it’s SUPER easy and I’ve got you covered.

1)  Bucks ARE TOTALLY OVERRATED when it comes to build huge chops.  What they really need to focus on, is how to develop CONTROL over their sticks.  In my opinion, and the most natural approach i’ve used, is to follow what feels comfortable in your hand; that’s how you master playing anything really.  Try this approach:  You lift the stick from the wrist, and use some finger to reach the appropriate height.  For example, if I wanted to reach vertical on my right match hand, I’m raise my wrist as high as it could go, then use finger to reach the vertical height.

With me so far?

From there, I’d let the stick hit the drum and naturally the stick is going to want to jump back at you.  To control this, you just need to keep your grip close (not tightly forced, relaxed), then bounce the taps for the bucks.  Use gravity to hit the drum, and control the space of the stick IN YOUR PALM and let the taps bounce and breath.

In short: Gravity with the downstroke, and soft “dribble” with the tops.

Practice that WAY SLOW and from there just build.  That’s how you MASTER PLAYING BUCKS or anything for that matter.

2)  In terms of their muscles, I do believe that their muscles will develop however in my experience sometimes the younger players hands may be a little on the smaller side for some of these beefier marching sticks.

I’d DEFINITELY RECOMMEND using indoor marching sticks, or the next size down until their muscles build up.  As they grow, you can move them up to the heavier outdoor marching sticks.  Also as members grow, it’s important that they use sticks that they personally like and want to use.  Maybe as they build up, give them two options and they can settle on the outdoor sticks they prefer later.

Like I said, the important thing to learn FIRST is how to control the stick.  From there, it’s all muscle build from there.

Take the time out in the beginning, or NOW, to learn how to correctly play, then you can always build your muscle after.

Simple yet POWERFUL formula to help your students or yourself master playing bucks or anything for that matter.

Also, if they need help on building chops, have them check out my “How To Build Chops FAST” post here ->“How To Build Chops FAST”

Thanks again to our reader Sergio for the great question and if anyone has any additional questions, feel free to email me, or reply by comments.

To you or student’s success,

Anthony Huerta