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  #1  
Old 03-28-2013, 02:13 AM
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Default What to do with a rogue left hand?

As a drum newbie, no challenge is as frustrating as my rogue left hand. I've spent weeks just trying to get it to bring the stick straight down on the snare so that the tip bounces back up to the same place it started. Heaven forbid I should let my attention wander to the kick or hi hat. Who would have thought simple up and down would become the source of such aggravation?

Anyway I'm looking for practice tips to zero in on this problem. Some variety would be nice. I've sat there for 15 minutes doing nothing but 1-2-3-4 with the left on the snare, and it often turns learning into something like punishment.
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Old 03-28-2013, 02:26 AM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by okiemuse View Post
As a drum newbie, no challenge is as frustrating as my rogue left hand. I've spent weeks just trying to get it to bring the stick straight down on the snare so that the tip bounces back up to the same place it started. Heaven forbid I should let my attention wander to the kick or hi hat. Who would have thought simple up and down would become the source of such aggravation?

Anyway I'm looking for practice tips to zero in on this problem. Some variety would be nice. I've sat there for 15 minutes doing nothing but 1-2-3-4 with the left on the snare, and it often turns learning into something like punishment.
Hi! do you have/can you make a video of what you're practicing, to get a feel for your current technique? Are you playing matched or traditional?

Much of what is needed to achieve equal hand development is that boring technique-stuff. There's no easy way. It'd be easier to narrow down ideas and suggestions if we can see what is going on and how you are practicing.

Last edited by Brian; 03-28-2013 at 02:37 AM.
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:15 AM
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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.
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:27 AM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

I feel your pain. I was a long-time traditional player who switched to matched grip. I still have to devote more attention to the rogue left hand, even after years of playing matched.

There is no substitute for practice, but, like MikeM, I have too short an attention span to do something torturous and too repetitive. One of the best things I did was to practice playing open-handed or left hand lead. I don't perform much this way, but it has been great for teaching my brain to think of the left hand more like the right.

Then there are still days where my left hand feels about as useless as a club with digits, lol. But it's really not that bad.
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:44 AM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

All rogues should be beaten into submission! That or severed and fed to the pigs....that'll teach 'em!
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:46 AM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

Great post Mike and ID,

My only idea for you would be to try to practice those 15 minutes with shorter strokes using mostly your wrist for the stroke motion. Look at it this way...what is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again the same way expecting a different result. Right? I know that exaggerating the situation a little, but it would be worth it trying it a different way. Try learning the Moeller stroke. Just search for it on YouTube or whatever.
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Old 03-28-2013, 05:14 AM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

Practicing getting a good stroke can be mind numbing, or a real challenge. It all depends on your attitude. You can't be bored if you're challenged.

Just a heads up...I've been working on getting my left had equal to my right. It's been 10 years now, and I just about have it. My point is it really took me a lot of time, so don't expect miracles. Slow single strokes to a metronome is a great way to get the right timing separation happening between hands. 16th notes at 40 BPM...anyone can do that. Just practice that and try to get the trajectories identical, assuming matched. No need to go faster until you can get control over the firing of your stroke and it's trajectory, shortest distance between 2 points. It's almost useless without a metronome though, you gotta use it.

If you can't play to a metronome, your time needs work. There's no way around that. Time is THE most important thing for a drummer. It's all about the time. So since you're a beginner, this is a great opportunity to save yourself a world of grief and just start with a metronome right away. Remember metronomes aren't boring, people are boring.
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:10 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
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.
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Old 03-28-2013, 05:43 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

Wow, my teacher was right when he said this forum has lots of participation. Should have mentioned I'm using matched grip. I'm going to copy all your suggestions into a crib sheet and set it next to my practice spot. Also, I'm going to pick some songs I like that have good left hand work, and try the old play-along method. If I mix that with ordinary exercises, it could help reduce the punishment aspect. The music I'm pursuing is alt-rock, generally mid tempo with a bit of creativity in the percussion to support the song structure. (The only thing unusual I want to learn is African polyrhythms; I'll deal with that in other posts.)

I believe my digital camera can make short videos, so I may be able to offer those next time around! Thanks all.
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:14 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

Just a few extra tips outside of drumming that benefit equal hand dev:

Hand strengtheners (light tension)
Martial arts, hand yoga, stretching etc.
One-hand clap (finger, hand dexterity)
Two-hand clap(wrist dexterity/endurance)
learning to write, throw, bounce, etc. anything you do righty can be done lefty.

there's plenty more possibilities but these helped me massively in the past decade.
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:44 AM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PspqYMZ-EXA

Practicing the free stroke has helped me tremendously to get my left hand working. I can honestly say that 6 months ago, I couldn't do it with my left hand. I kept dropping the stick, had trouble letting it rebound. I realize now of course, my left hand technique on the kit must have been a disaster!

By now I can play clean 16th note singles at about 90 bpm with my left hand for a few minutes, and I can pull off 32nd notes with both hands at 100bpm for 1-2 minutes. Of course my left hand is still retarded compared to my right but it's getting easier :)
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

Getting the weak hand on par with the strong hand is one THE most satisfying things for a drummer. It really expands your possibilities. I'm not stopping until it's equal to my right. Actually, that's when the practice really starts.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:45 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

Stick Control. every day.
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:11 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
Just a few extra tips outside of drumming that benefit equal hand dev:

Hand strengtheners (light tension)
Martial arts, hand yoga, stretching etc.
One-hand clap (finger, hand dexterity)
Two-hand clap(wrist dexterity/endurance)
learning to write, throw, bounce, etc. anything you do righty can be done lefty.

there's plenty more possibilities but these helped me massively in the past decade.
This sounds to me like complete waste of valuable practice time.

My teacher tells me to practice free strokes making sure both hands are using the same amount of finger and wrist in both hands. I started practicing those using the fulcrum only, also the finger adder exercise where you play a measure of eight notes with the fulcrum (first finger) then adding a finger every measure making sure it feels the same all the time. All 4 fingers have to be riding the stick equally.

Also every exercise has to be symmetrical which means it changes the leading hand so both hands get to lead equally.

Also practicing french grip will increase the finger control but the best grip overall is american since it's both french and german combined and being able to gradually change between them is a good thing to learn. However the grip depends on the situation and learning them all will give you the ability to choose the best one automatically for the task at hand.
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Old 03-29-2013, 06:19 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

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Originally Posted by EvilDrummer View Post
This sounds to me like complete waste of valuable practice time.

My teacher tells me to practice free strokes making sure both hands are using the same amount of finger and wrist in both hands. I started practicing those using the fulcrum only, also the finger adder exercise where you play a measure of eight notes with the fulcrum (first finger) then adding a finger every measure making sure it feels the same all the time. All 4 fingers have to be riding the stick equally.

Also every exercise has to be symmetrical which means it changes the leading hand so both hands get to lead equally.

Also practicing french grip will increase the finger control but the best grip overall is american since it's both french and german combined and being able to gradually change between them is a good thing to learn. However the grip depends on the situation and learning them all will give you the ability to choose the best one automatically for the task at hand.
How can that be a waste of time? The reason people's right hand develops quicker is because its being used more in the first place. Gene Krupa said he used to go around using his weaker hand to do things like opening doors, etc., to get it more coordinated. It's a good suggestion to do anything to get your weaker hand more coordinated.
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Old 03-29-2013, 06:28 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

EvilDrummer, I disagree with your POV here, too.
Is this merely your opinion based on nothing but assumptions or did you actually give some of those things a go?

EVERYTHING involving one's weaker limbs will improve control over/feel with that limb, absolutely. Besides, many of those things can be implemented in one's life everywhere, anytime. Thus, it's more of a general mindset than a waste of time, plus, how can it even be practice time if this is stuff you'd incorporate in your daily life _outside_ your regular drumming?

Personally I have many years of experience using a GripMaster. I can guarantee you that I had a lot of benefit from that thingy (although in a guitarist context as that was my orig. instrument before getting into drums). I can't give you any figures on how much of a benefit brushing my teeth with my left hand has brought me (what it clearly has is proving to myself that this can be learned - which is an accomplishment I appreciate) but just try it and you'll see what an effort it is to even get started with your other limb in everyday activities. HUGE difference.

In fact, everything Brian mentioned is great stuff to think about and give it a try.
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Old 03-29-2013, 08:31 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

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Originally Posted by EvilDrummer View Post
This sounds to me like complete waste of valuable practice time.
.
I prefaced the post by saying "outside of drumming". In no way did I mean that someone should use their dedicated practice time to doing such things, but I wouldn't say that is necessarily right or wrong too. I meant more like in the car, for ex, or any time where you cannot really "practice" but can still be productive. Again, just imo, not at all saying it's correct or not.
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Old 03-29-2013, 08:47 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

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This sounds to me like complete waste of valuable practice time
It might sounds like a waste of time at the first degree, because it's not directly linked to drumming exercises.

But Simon Phillips, who's totally ambidextrous on the drums, achieved his goal by doing exactly that, doing all the repeated actions we do everyday with his left hand, getting your hair done, brushing your teeth, writing, and so on. Doing as many things as possible with the left (weak) hand day after day after day, as well of course as practicing the drums with a similar approach. Simon was a right handed drummer, he decided to become ambidextrous in the very early 70's.

So no, it's not a waste of time, it's another source of improving the dexterity of the weaker hand.
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:48 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

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But Simon Phillips, who's totally ambidextrous on the drums ...
He's been a hero of mine since very early in my playing and that part of his playing always really stood out for me, but it was more a fascination than something I wanted to achieve myself. Until the last few years, that is.

Now I'm always on the lookout for an opportunity to play open-handed (which would be all the time if I were ambitious enough). As I said before, I don't really practice anything until I see some compelling reason, but I happened to stumble into the realization that my time is straighter when I lead with the left because of it's lesser ability and lack of familiarity with that role. I get a completely different sound to my groove by switching left/right roles; my 8th note ride patterns are straighter and my backbeats sit on top of the beat more. I think it's a nifty trick to switch it up for certain songs, or parts of songs, and open-handed playing opens up the rest of the kit for the right hand to get around on; the oft-cited advantage in the on-going and never-ending open-handed debate. Another fun trick I discovered (though I'm sure I'm not the first) while working ghosts strokes with my right hand is how easy and alluring that floor tom is just sitting there ... makes for a great accent with cymbal hits and moving some of those ghosts over from the snare can make for some really cool faux double bass parts or just floor/kick interplay. Sky's the limit on that one.

If getting your left to the same place as your right is the goal, I can't think of a better way of getting there than playing open-handed / left hand lead, as IDDrummer also pointed out. Time on the pad working things out and concentrating on developing muscles and muscle memory is great, but combine that with playing left hand lead on the kit could only be better.

And as MAD mentioned, it's about how it gets applied musically in the end. Technique is important and unavoidable, but it's still just a means to a musical end. Or, maybe not ... maybe for some the technique IS the end. But if that's the case and the goal really is to get your left and your right equal, then why stop at your hands? Why not set up your whole kit lefty and master that? As much as I like air drumming as a lefty - and I do a lot, I'm not ashamed to say! - I'm not about to start setting up my kit that way.
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Old 03-29-2013, 11:52 PM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

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Now I'm always on the lookout for an opportunity to play open-handed ...
Open-handed playing is certainly one way to develop the weaker hand IMO Mike, although, like you for many years I've never contemplated such an approach, after so many years playing a regular kit (right handed kit leading with the right hand) I did not wanted to re-learn everything by switching the leading hand, as it would imply a tremendous amount of practice for very little gain in my eyes. There's some automatism which have developed over the years, those automatism allow me me to play and express myself freely, and it would probably take the same amount of time to master the open-handed playing TBH, it's hardly worth it for me, but for someone at the beginning of their adventure or the highly determined individual it's certainly a viable option.

But I do play open-handed on the kit a lot, it's the by-product of having 2 hi-hats on the kit, one on the left, one on the right, I still lead with the right hand on the right sided hi-hat and perform hi hat's opening and barks with the left hand on the left sided hi-hat. The 2 hi-hats concept was introduced within my set when I played double bass drums to have an hi-hat voice while performing double bass patterns, but I no longer use a double bass kit nor I use a double pedal anymore, however, I kept the 2 hats concept and developed it, I'd say that about 50% of my playing is performed open-handed on the kit nowadays.
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Old 03-30-2013, 02:35 AM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

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I prefaced the post by saying "outside of drumming". In no way did I mean that someone should use their dedicated practice time to doing such things, but I wouldn't say that is necessarily right or wrong too. I meant more like in the car, for ex, or any time where you cannot really "practice" but can still be productive. Again, just imo, not at all saying it's correct or not.
I misunderstood, I thought you meant we should sit and learn to write with the left hand on our free time when you could be hacking away on the pad.

I think there are some things you can do outside of drumming at work or anywhere you don't have access to sticks and pad. I'd say put your forearm and palm flat on a table, make a fist and move it up and down while the forearmis still on the table. Works the muscles and motion used for wrist strokes. Or put your hand next to your thigh and rotate it back and forth fast letting the pinky and thumb hit your thigh as alternate strokes. This develops the motion used in french grip.

However only if you are unable to practice. Alternatively if you have too much time.

Last edited by EvilDrummer; 03-30-2013 at 02:45 AM.
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Old 03-30-2013, 07:13 AM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

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I misunderstood, I thought you meant we should sit and learn to write with the left hand on our free time when you could be hacking away on the pad.

I think there are some things you can do outside of drumming at work or anywhere you don't have access to sticks and pad. I'd say put your forearm and palm flat on a table, make a fist and move it up and down while the forearmis still on the table. Works the muscles and motion used for wrist strokes. Or put your hand next to your thigh and rotate it back and forth fast letting the pinky and thumb hit your thigh as alternate strokes. This develops the motion used in french grip.

However only if you are unable to practice. Alternatively if you have too much time.
I am not saying what anyone should or shouldn't do, but just put a few ideas out there that helped. I personally spent hundreds of hours doing those things you called a waste of time, and still do, but to each his/her own. I've been playing around ten years and wouldn't have done anything different.\

I DO believe, jmo, that if you only practice with the sticks and feet on a practice pad or drum kit (or whatever it may be), and ignore the fitness/development part, it's a much longer road.
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:57 AM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

sorry to hijack this thread, but i have a very similar problem. i've been playing for about 9 years and my left hand is a real pain in the backside. i'm actually in a regular gigging band so it doesn't stop me from getting out and playing, but it's really frustrating that my left hand holds me back and i sometimes even feel like hanging up my sticks for good. i don't have trouble learning rudiments or awkward beats etc, i just have a problem with basic left/right sticking which prevents me from doing anything fast. i've tried every book, youtube vid and dvd going... in fact, i think this can actually be detrimental because it's information overload. i've also taken lessons with some great teachers but to no avail. i also use my left hand to brush my teeth, steer the car, operate my mouse, etc and i also use one of those powerball exercise things when possible.... still no joy :(

i've come to the conclusion that my left hand problem is not specifically drumming related, so the simple "practice rudiments" answer does not solve the problem (for me at least). personally, i think i've just got poor coordination - simple as that. some people are good at sport, some people aren't. some people are good at coordinating left/right hand movements, some people aren't. unfortunately, i'm not - which i find really frustrating when some people who don't even play drums can hit a practice pad left/right quicker than me :(
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Old 04-04-2013, 01:03 AM
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Default Re: What to do with a rogue left hand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rotherdrummer View Post
sorry to hijack this thread, but i have a very similar problem. i've been playing for about 9 years and my left hand is a real pain in the backside. i'm actually in a regular gigging band so it doesn't stop me from getting out and playing, but it's really frustrating that my left hand holds me back and i sometimes even feel like hanging up my sticks for good. i don't have trouble learning rudiments or awkward beats etc, i just have a problem with basic left/right sticking which prevents me from doing anything fast. i've tried every book, youtube vid and dvd going... in fact, i think this can actually be detrimental because it's information overload. i've also taken lessons with some great teachers but to no avail. i also use my left hand to brush my teeth, steer the car, operate my mouse, etc and i also use one of those powerball exercise things when possible.... still no joy :(

i've come to the conclusion that my left hand problem is not specifically drumming related, so the simple "practice rudiments" answer does not solve the problem (for me at least). personally, i think i've just got poor coordination - simple as that. some people are good at sport, some people aren't. some people are good at coordinating left/right hand movements, some people aren't. unfortunately, i'm not - which i find really frustrating when some people who don't even play drums can hit a practice pad left/right quicker than me :(
I don't think you're hijacking the thread. I think everyone is dealing with 'weaker hand' syndrome. Perhaps as was suggested, you should just start doing things with your left hand. Open doors, write? Cook? Anything you'd normally use your right hand for, use your left. This advice was given.

However, if it makes you feel any better, Davey Tough admitted that he could not roll. What he lacked in technical facility, he made up for in his massive swing groove. That's why people hired him. I don't think he neglected his technique, he just put out there what he did best. I feel like I do this every time I go out and play. I do not put a spotlight on what I can't do when it matters ;)
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