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Sanford A.

Moeller
Sanford Augustus “Gus” Moeller (1886 – 1960) was
an American rudimental drummer, a national champion,
educator, and author. Moeller was born in Albany, New
York, and began his music education by studying the piano.

olutionary War. The 'open style' approach and little finger stick grip are the trademarks regarding this 'ancient'
style of drumming. The roots of this approach stem from
Europe, and go back before the 18th century.

One of Moeller’s pupils, Allen Paley, said,
“Moeller...understood the instrument as well as a
surgeon does the human body. His system, for which
you had to modify in order to play sitting down — he
normally stood, was a matter of three strokes that you
brought together in a smooth flow. ... He [Gene Krupa]
warned me not to let Moeller’s method to overpower
He is also known for what is called the Moeller Method, me; it was originally fashioned for parade and concert
which essentially documents the way of playing snare drummers. To play with jazz and dance bands, one must
[2]
drum used in the army, particularly in the Civil War. modify what Moeller taught and proceed from there”.
Among Moeller’s pupils included Gene Krupa and the The two main modifications that most drummers make
late Jim Chapin.
regarding Moeller’s book are to use the thumb fulcrum for
both hands (matched grip) and to level the snare (instead
of continuing to play a snare drum set up slanted or on
an angle). Though Moeller recommended standing when
1 Moeller and drum instruction
practicing, he shows (on page 11 in his book) that some
of his pupils, such as concert and jazz band members, will
“The belief that anyone can beat a drum is discouragingly opt for sitting. These facts show that Moeller allowed for
popular!" - Sanford Augustus ‘Gus’ Moeller
two right hand grips in the lessons that he taught (refer to
Gus’ Moeller is usually associated with the "Moeller page 11 in his book for a picture of him seated at a snare
Method" or 'Moeller Technique' (considered by some to drum showing a right hand thumb fulcrum grip). In other
be a misnomer), which advocates the use of 'ancient' words, the little finger grip was not the only grip Moeller
snare drumming techniques that can be used by drum- recognized when working with his pupils.
mers when playing a drum set (drum kit).
While still a young man, Moeller also learned the snare
drum and studied with August Helmicke. He served
in the Spanish–American War. Later, Moeller moved
to New York, playing vaudeville shows with George
M. Cohen.[1] He also played for the Metropolitan opera
house and the Seventh Regimental Army Band.[2]

In 1925, Moeller compiled and wrote “The Moeller Book:
The Art of Snare Drumming”. It was reprinted in June
1950 by Leedy and Ludwig ... (followed by - 1956 Copyright assigned to Ludwig Drum Co.), (followed by - 1982
Copyright assigned to Ludwig Music Publishing Co).

2 Moeller as a drum builder

Moeller’s unique point of view was that he considered
drum students, who were learning to drum properly, to
be students of eurhythmics (refer to page 69 in Moeller’s
Book). Moeller based his lessons and instruction around
a playing style used by drummers who had served in the
American Civil War.

Moeller was also an expert drum builder. He made several deep marching snares and matching bass drums. Today, Moeller’s vintage-style rope drums are still being
played by marching organizations, annually.

The Mount Kisco Ancient Fife and Drum Corps has
the best known collection of Moeller drums - still being
The Moeller book speaks highly, in the publisher’s note, played today.
of George Bruce's method of drum instruction, and in- The Lancraft Fife and Drum Corps , of which Moeller
deed, The Moeller book has some similarity to Bruce and was a member from 1930 to 1935, purchased five snare
Emmett's The Drummers’ and Fifer’s Guide in that both drums at $85.00 each from Moeller who delivered them
have lengthy treatments of the rudiments,[3] and many of personally on August 8, 1954. The Moeller drums are still
the pieces in Bruce’s book also appears in the Moeller in use today and have been merged with “Buck” Soistman
book.
and Bill Reamer drums since then, (showing a definite onThis particular field drumming style actually arrived in going drum building style and lineage that was initiated by
the United States during the time of the American Rev- Moeller).[4]
1

Vol 1. such as Gene Krupa. Burt Korell. p. 58 [3] http://www. by Tommy William Hanson EXTERNAL LINKS . Percussive Notes. “Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer. is well known. He also instructed American drummer Jim Chapin. Retrieved 2009-02-17. Derrick.2 3 5 Moeller’s Pupils Moeller’s influence on the early jazz drummers.civilwarmusic. 4 References [1] Logozo. [2] Drummin' men: the heartbeat of Jazz.php Bruce and Emmett’s Drummers’ and Fifer’s guide [4] Lancraft website retrieved on 2011-09-03 5 External links • Article from Drummerworld on Jim Chapin (one of Moeller’s best known pupils) • An online review of the 'Moeller Book'. “Systems of Natural Drumming: Stone Gladstone and Moeller” (PDF). Coordinated Independence” carries a dedication to Moeller on the title page. Chapin’s well-known book.net/bruce_emmett.

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