Hold each cymbal by placing your first finger under the strap close to the cymbal, as shown. Then, hold with a pinch between yuor first finger and thumb, wrapping your other fingers around the strap, as in the second picture.DO NOT place your hands inside the straps!! That is a marching band technique, used to make carrying the cymbals easier. Since we can (and often need to) put them down when we aren't playing, there is no need to do it.
Listen to each cymbal. The lower sounding cymbal is usually the heavier one. I like to hold this plate in my weaker hand (i.e. - left for right handed players). Position the cymbal on about a 45-degree angle. Position the other cymbal on a more vertical angle, and slightly off-center from the other cymbal.
An effective crash must get the cymbals to respond at their fullest vibration, while not letting air get trapped between the plates.Ideally, we'd like to do this with the least amount of energy expended by the player (after all, there can be a lot of crashes in a Sousa march!)
- I prefer to crash the cymbals using a downward motion. This let's gravity do a large part of the work, saving a lot of energy.
- To avoid getting air trapped, the cymbal player will actually strike the cymbals twice (see examples). This should feel similar to a "flam" on the snare drum.
Suspended Cymbal Techniques
For effective cymbal rolls, you DO NOT need to roll quickly. In fact, you want to create the best sound using as few strokes as possible. The less contact with the cymbal, the more freely it can vibrate.
- Place the mallets on the far edges of the cymbal, at about 3 O'Clock and 9 O'Clock. Roll using even, slow strokes.
- To dampen the suspended cymbal, you may want to feather the sound out more gradually by adding your fingertips one at a time, and then finally stopping the sound by closing your hands around the cymbal. For quick dampening, you can use your hands and you body by leaning into the instrument as you dampen it.
Many techniques are used on cymbals to create other effects. You may be asked to make the cymbal "sizzle" - if you do not have a sizzle cymbal, try adding a small chain link on the top.
Quite often the use of a coin to scrape across the cymbal is used. You'll need a cymbal with lathed ridges (most are this way) in it for this effect.
Sabian and Zildjian are the top makers of quality cymbals. Paiste also makes some fine cymbals.