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Watch Anika Nilles break-down her push-pull bass drum foot technique

‘Playing for the song’ is great, but sometimes the song requires busy 16th-note bass drum parts, and in all honesty, who doesn’t enjoy playing fast, busy parts from time to time?

Recently, German drummer and educator, Anika Nilles sat down with Evans Drumheads to film a demonstration/lesson on how she achieves fast 16th notes with a single pedal using a technique she calls the push/pull.

Similar in concept to the heel/toe, Anika’s push/pull is all about getting more efficiency out of a bass drum stroke, turning a single movement into two notes rather than one - much like the stick technique of the same name.

As Anika demonstrates, it starts with a heel-up stroke played with the toes. From here, the rest of the foot is then dropped onto the footplate, creating the second note. 

Anika explains, it’s important to get a feel for your pedal’s footplate and the way it rebounds when executing the first part of the technique. She goes on to note that the push/pull technique is a tool for playing fast notes - both in terms of creating the type of movement to the pedal’s footplate and the requirement for efficiency.

Anika recommends practicing with both feet creating the same motion on the bass drum and hi-hat in order to make time-keeping with your left foot easier when you’re playing the push/pull along with a ride cymbal. 

Conversely, she suggests working both feet in opposite movements is also a good idea so that you’re comfortable with playing the bass drum in odd-number groups (3/5/7) against the even-number time-keeping of your hi-hat foot.

She then goes on to demonstrate a groove incorporating some speedy 16th-notes before the video's outro kicks in with 16th-note triplets played using the same technique. it might take a bit of time to really get the feel down, but it’s a great technique for single-pedal players who want to increase the number of notes they can play. 

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.