Teaching a left handed student

What do you do? Do you rearrange the kit every time you have a left handed student? Do you try to teach them to play right handed from the beginning? If you let them play open, how do you work around the ride cymbal and floor tom placement? Is a lefty just always going to experience more hardships in the beginning, which will eventually lead to a better, well rounded player if they stick it through?

What's the best approach?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I think switching the kit will be required. Trying to force someone open handed if they aren't into it won't work out well, imo.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
What's the best approach?
Present them with the two options, outline the consequences of either option, and let them make the decision.

I'm a lefty and play righty because socializing and making music with other musicians is more important to me than adhering to the notion of an optimal setup.

For me, leading with the right hand was infinitely more difficult than the limb interdependence required to play a right handed kit.

I also play right handed guitar and switch hit, but cannot for the life of me throw a ball right handed or use a right handed hockey stick.
 

Spaz

Senior Member
It is a pain in the butt but I rearrange the kit yes. But I leave the hi and mid tom alone. He's learned to deal with the sound.

I have two lefty students. But it only takes a minute to do the swap on a simple 5pc setup.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
It doesn't happen much.

Only time I had a left handed student I had 3 kits and set one up left handed. If I had two students at the same time I'd simply use the left handed kit myself, so it pretty much stayed that way. We played simple stuff, so it was fine.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
open handed would be great though because if you ever sit in on a gig, or share gear, 99% of the time its a right handed setup.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I tend to expose everything.
Matchedtrad
French,American/German
Grossed/open handed
Talk about the world of mostly sharing right handed setups.

This is just information, though.

I'm not gonna push a beginner who already has enough to think about. I let them do what is comfortable. In this day and age, even hand technique is a very open concept. We start with being loose, bounce and controllng with all fingers and then just slowly move on as it seems appropriate.

I've taken over a bunch of students who have played for years and only play low with a very stiff anf rigid index finger fulcrum, which I'm sure was normal for their teachers back when they learn for school band, but it's really hard to open that up to different possibilities. Drives me nuts. I'd much rather teach the concept of what and why and let them slowly understand and explore a bit for a couple of years.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I think which hand they write with is basically irrelevant to drumming. I'm left handed, and play right handed; I know one other professional who is right handed, but plays left handed. If they're a beginner, or near beginner, I have them play right-handed-- or I strongly recommend it, if they have an opinion/preference. I've have had good results with that, with zero/little adjustment period. I think teaching a beginner to play "open-handed" is malpractice-- that's a decision the student should make for himself once he's experienced enough to understand the issues involved.

If they're more than a year in, and are playing left handed, I go ahead and switch the drums around.
 

Rochelle Rochelle

Senior Member
As a lefty, when I took lessons, we changed the kit around. Took a couple of minutes and was no big deal. I am very much a lefty and can't do much at all with my right hand and my left foot is much stronger than my right also.
 

John Lamb

Senior Member
Depends. There are different types of lefties. Some left handers are "true lefties" ... meaning that the "right brain/left brain" division of resources are totally swapped, mirror-image-like . Many-to-most left handers are partial lefties ... meaning that the division of labor is mixed up - some things that would normally be on the right are on the left and other things that are on the left or on the right, but it isn't a mirror image - in fact, a lot of things can actually be in the wrong place. (If you stutter, this is probably you.) For these drummers, anything goes.

Forcing a true lefty to go right (for a young enough student) can actually "shatter" the lateralization and even cause someone to have a permanent stutter. You have to be pretty extreme (studies here focus on lefties forced to write with the right) but it actually be a bad idea. For these drummers, a mirror image kit is generally best.

So, like the others, I lay out the options and let my students choose what they'd like to do, and give them freedom to change their minds at any time. There are a lot of ways to be lefty and they'll know what feels best to them.

Odd-Arne Oseberg said:
I'm not gonna push a beginner who already has enough to think about.
Well said.
 
The problem is when you present the issues to a child they usually can't make up their mind. The one lefty I have plays open now and we're working on leading fills with the right hand, I'm just wondering if I should encourage him to now work with keeping time on the right hand for the Ride as well.
 

Superman

Gold Member
I'm left handed and I feel that lefties should be encouraged to play left handed unless they are adamant about otherwise like Kamak. It takes 2 minutes to turn the hats, ride and floor around..the toms can stay as is. When I was a kid my dad contacted someone who said he would not teach a kid to play left handed and I avoided him. I don't agree with teaching someone to play open handed at all, that is something you learn later on.
 

Lennytoons

Senior Member
Depends. There are different types of lefties. Some left handers are "true lefties" ... meaning that the "right brain/left brain" division of resources are totally swapped, mirror-image-like . Many-to-most left handers are partial lefties ... meaning that the division of labor is mixed up - some things that would normally be on the right are on the left and other things that are on the left or on the right, but it isn't a mirror image - in fact, a lot of things can actually be in the wrong place. (If you stutter, this is probably you.) For these drummers, anything goes.

Forcing a true lefty to go right (for a young enough student) can actually "shatter" the lateralization and even cause someone to have a permanent stutter. You have to be pretty extreme (studies here focus on lefties forced to write with the right) but it actually be a bad idea. For these drummers, a mirror image kit is generally best.

So, like the others, I lay out the options and let my students choose what they'd like to do, and give them freedom to change their minds at any time. There are a lot of ways to be lefty and they'll know what feels best to them.

Well said.
^ This. As a true lefty ( left handed and left footed) the only way I can really play is full on left handed, Phil Collins style. I can play open handed but that requires playing right footed which I can't do. To me, you need to find out if he is LEFT FOOTED as well as left handed. If so, full lefty is the only way. If he can play left hand lead but also play right footed, open handed with a righty kit is great! Makes it so much easier on jam night...just move the ride and voila.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
if they are old enough to comprehend I always give them the chance to try the kit fully lefty to see if there is any comfort level leaning either way.

if they are very young it almost does not matter if they start righty or lefty because neither is developed at all... blank canvas

I do have students that play open on a righty kit and we put the ride cymbal just above the hats where a righty player would usually have a crash.
they seem very comfortable with the right foot on the bass drum and rounding the kit clockwise

but if a student is most comfortable on a lefty kit .. yes I will change it every time.
it literally takes under 2 minutes
 

PineyplayParadiddles

Senior Member
I just went with the open handed approach, there were 4 other students in my music group and they were all right handed. I never was given any choice in the matter, but actually open handed has always been comfortable and now I never have to worry about reversing the kit. I've taught a few students that were lefties and most took to open handed drumming very easily.

While a child probably won't know what's easiest, maybe try open and lefty drumming and see if you can notice which comes more naturally to them.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
The problem is when you present the issues to a child they usually can't make up their mind.
Right, if they're young, or not informed enough to make a decision, you have to use your expertise and decide for them-- ask them to do it the way you think is smart, given their current state of development.

The one lefty I have plays open now and we're working on leading fills with the right hand, I'm just wondering if I should encourage him to now work with keeping time on the right hand for the Ride as well.
Assuming we're talking about the same kid: why not? How much time does he have invested in this open-handed configuration? He's going to have to learn to ride with his right hand anyway, if he ever wants to ride on the ride cymbal, or floor tom, or anything on the right side of the set-- the side of the set where most of the stuff is.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
About halfway in, I think that article is pure alarmist BS, frankly. Like this:

Earlier in my teaching career I listened to bad advice and taught a number lefties to play right-handed. It was years later when several returned, frustrated with their playing and looking for help, that I realized my role in their predicament.
That's not a unique "predicament." Most people are frustrated with their playing at that stage-- a few years after their first teacher. Most people are frustrated with their playing forever, because they don't practice and play enough. For a developed player, natural preference is such a marginal factor as to be basically 100% irrelevant. Again, I'm a left handed person, right handed drummer-- pretty strongly RHed, because that's what my method is based on. I've practiced a lot, and I'm really good at it. I also have a strong left hand-- not because I'm actually left handed, and my natural abilities were finally unleashed, but because I worked on it a lot.

Now I have to work on a line-by-line refutation of that thing. Anytime anybody starts getting into which foot is dominant-- as if it has any bearing on drumming-- they have to GTFO. That stuff really irks me. :)

EDIT: Reading more, I think maybe "pure alarmist BS" is a bit strong. I agree with a fair amount of it, actually-- a lot of what he says reflects some of the problems/issues with open-handed drumming. I totally disagree with his conclusion that handedness in everyday activities is important to handedness in drumming.
 
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ronyd

Silver Member
I'm fortunate to have 4 of my kits setup in my home: 2 in the basement and 2 in my spare room as my drum room. I setup one kit righty. But, as recommended by Anthony, I also put my ride just above the hats. So when I want to work on my weak side, I go to that kit.

I'm a devoted left from day 1, sports, etc. But when I was yound I played an accodion. And I didn't know or care if it was lefty or righty. Strapped it on and played. pretty weird...

When I take a lesson, it literally takes couple of mins to switch. Let the student do the switching... it's good practice. when the lesson is done, let him switch the kit back.


if they are old enough to comprehend I always give them the chance to try the kit fully lefty to see if there is any comfort level leaning either way.

if they are very young it almost does not matter if they start righty or lefty because neither is developed at all... blank canvas

I do have students that play open on a righty kit and we put the ride cymbal just above the hats where a righty player would usually have a crash.
they seem very comfortable with the right foot on the bass drum and rounding the kit clockwise

but if a student is most comfortable on a lefty kit .. yes I will change it every time.
it literally takes under 2 minutes
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
Lately for me it seems to work like this with new students:

I show them the "normal" way of crossing over. When some of them (happened
last summer) automatically play left-handed over the course of 1-3 weeks, I
explain to them the pros and cons and eventually let them play open handed
if they decide so. I absolutely avoid mirroring the kit though. And I've never
encountered a strongly "left footed" kid personally so far.

Pros and cons of playing open-handed to me:

+the right side of the kit is open while grooving (incorporating toms etc)
+hitting the snare with hard full strokes is no problem at all

-when having the ride to the left side, the crash is kind of a pain: Either
you place it on the right side and can't comfortably hit it with your left hand - which
seems to be a problem when leading fills left; or you place it on the left side
as well, so space will be kind of tight, especially with the rod of the hihat in
the way, plus maybe a music stand, too.

(Side note: I've visited the lesson of a fellow
teacher who actually always has his students place their crashes on the left
side, and their music stand on the right side. Worked well, interestingly.)

-The question of whether leading fills etc. with the left or right hand is kind
of tricky.

-side stick playing can be more difficult, depending on hihat placement.

Important thing: Open-handed players should set their hihats quite low.
 
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