Originally Posted by MikeM
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.
Brilliant post Mike, not only I agree with everything you've said, it's also resonate with me and I can relate pretty much to your post.
Everyone's different and will put the value and goals of "practicing" to suits their playing, and "practicing" comes in many many forms in a million of aspect about our instruments.
I, for one, believe that our limbs have a definite role to play on the kit, and as such, I "practice" accordingly, yes, my left hand is somewhat weaker than my right hand, but it doesn't serve the same purpose, still I'm fairly happy with the balance of my hands during fills or patterns which requires both hands in the execution.
Technique and practice are a mean to an end, it enable the musician to express himself/herself while playing music for real, let's not forget the main reason we're playing the drums (or any other instruments, for that matter): the MUSIC. Whenever we are in a studio recording, live on stage or just rehearsing with a band, only the notions of musicality, groove, taste, creativity and artistic involvement counts, it's never a question of technique.
To the OP, one aspect I find important with the hands is the control
of the strokes, being able to hit the drums at specific places to produce specific sounds, colors and textures, for this you'll need some accuracy with both hands to achieve it, if you're experiencing trouble with this, I suggest you draw little circles in various points with a felt tip pen on your snare batter head and practice hitting within the circles with both hands at various dynamics and speed, it might helps.