While hi-hat cymbals are a typical part of any drum kit, they don’t always receive love and respect from drummers. In fact, some drummers never really learn to play the hi-hat. However, learning basic hi-hat techniques overwhelmingly enhances drum skills and sound and improve your coordination and sense of rhythm. The hi-hat makes an obvious difference in the sound and quality of your music, and mastering the drums includes mastering these cymbals.
The number one problem most drummers experience with the hi-hat is a lack of necessary flexibility and nimbleness, particularly in the left foot. You want to be able to control the pressure you use because that makes a difference in the sounds produced, and that control may require a lot more focus and concentration. The fundamental hi-hat sounds are a result of how much pressure the drummer puts on the control. Without hi-hat control, these cymbals are practically pointless in your drum kit.
It is important, when practicing hi-hat techniques, to understand how the hi-hat sounds without using drum sticks or brushes. When learning foot control and deciphering the effects pressure has upon the cymbals, listen closely to the differences in sound and tone. As you get to know your own hi-hat technique, you will master the technique sooner if you are aware of the nuances in sound as you apply various amounts of pressure.
Different drummers have popularized different hi-hat rhythms, techniques and styles, each adding an interesting sound and flavor to the beat. Drummers may use an "open" technique, play heel up, or down, add a little sizzle or even a splash sound by stomping the pedal. The ability of this cymbal to create a wide range of sounds may actually benefit a drummer and encourage further exploration of the sound. Then, as with splash, crash and effects cymbals, the accent technique can further refine the sound of the hi-hat.
To keep your hi-hat in its best shape, for the best sound and longevity, always be sure that the hardware is in good shape and that the cymbals are not attached too tightly. Many a drummer has broken, split or cracked a hi-hat due to improperly attaching the instrument.
No matter your intention or desire for the hi-hat, its use will only improve your sound. Just as you practice your rudiments, you need to practice your hi-hat techniques. Good hi-hat capabilities translate into a wider diversity in your music sound, possibly opening you up for more drumming opportunities and pleasure with your craft.