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Old 03-28-2013, 03:15 AM
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MikeM MikeM is offline
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 5,012
Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

I agree that there's no way around practicing to get your left doing what your right can do. But I also sympathize with the punishment angle. To avoid that feeling, which comes very quickly for me as I have a short attention span, I simply avoid practicing things like that!

Seriously, if it isn't part of what I'm trying to play, I generally don't worry about it. My left and right hands play very different roles in my playing so I tend to focus only on the techniques that are holding me back the most, and even then, they only get worked on in the context of my playing.

For example, I play a lot of ghost strokes with my left hand as well as solid backbeats. Learning to get the right finesse out of the ghosts just came with repeated attempts to get them to sound right, so that at this point, I can get them to sound good as singles, doubles (accenting either the 1st or 2nd hits), triples (on a good day), and press rolls (which I don't usually find very useful).

But I embarrass myself when I get on a practice pad! It's just not my favorite mode of practicing, though I know it's good for me.

This is one of those areas where it depends on what you're trying to do with your drumming. If you're looking to play snare drum in a drum line, you'll have no success if you don't suck it up and put in the hours. If you're just looking to bang away on your kit with a rock band where those techniques aren't emphasized, and if it's enough like punishment to where you start to avoid playing because it's too much work and not enough fun, then it may not be worth the effort.

Only you can know what the right balance is.

I don't want to minimize the value of solid practicing, and nobody ever became a worse drummer for putting in the time to sort out those fundamentals, but I've also never been inspired by a drummer who wasn't clearly having fun. I've seen many well-practiced drummers who can blow me out of the water with skill but bore me to tears with content.

I've also been hugely inspired by drummers who blow me out of the water with skill AND content. Maybe I should've practiced all that stuff after all ... which brings up a highly tangential philosophical angle: there are costs associated with everything we do in life called "opportunity costs".

What are you giving up by not practicing? Answer: having the skills at the ready so you can execute new ideas that pop into your head without being encumbered by having to stop to figure them out.

What are you giving up by practicing? Answer: (hot-button issue alert!) Not having inspiring ideas pop into your head in the first place because you had it drilled into your head that you need to learn to crawl before running a marathon. When you simply sit down at your kit and run with the first idea that pops into your head, playing at the edge of your ability and good taste, you're exercising and developing that part of the brain where child-like curiosity and creativity resides. There's no way to exercise that "muscle" without actually going there, and to my mind, that qualifies as "practice", though not in the rote practice pad sense.

The best approach, of course, is to do both. But in reality, all of us are optimized differently so what works for me may not be what's right for you and almost certainly won't be what any qualified drum teacher will tell you.
My kit: It's not just good, it's good enough. Recent band.

Last edited by MikeM; 03-28-2013 at 03:41 AM.
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