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  #1  
Old 11-12-2011, 12:23 AM
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Default Drumming with fingers missing

Hi guys,

I've just begun helping a friend of mine to learn to play the drums. However, I'm being forced to be quite creative about this as he has only two fingers and a thumb on his left hand, the middle and ring fingers. Obviously this is a bit of a game-changer as far as technique is concerned! My first thought was to teach him traditional grip as the stick is then held between the two fingers he does have, with the thumb providing additional control. I thought I'd mention it in case anybody had experience of this sort of thing or could provide me with any useful advice.
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:35 AM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Sorry I don't have direct experience in this situation but trad grip was my first thought also. I guess this would really make sense.
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Old 11-12-2011, 02:52 AM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

You show him both and stand back, if hes into it he'll learn. He has the fingers he needs, and the thumb will unable them to work. Without the thumb its difficult to do anything. Good luck to him and have him join in here just tell him to say he has Leedys or something thats out of business hahahaha!!!! Doc
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Old 11-12-2011, 05:31 AM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

I would probably explain the concept behind a nice, repeatable stroke with a consistent fulcrum, and hand him a stick. I think if you hand him a stick butt-first, the way he takes it from you may well be the way he should hold it to play.
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Old 11-12-2011, 05:39 AM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

cool man, like doc said, he has the fingers he needs, i would recommend a shorter stick, anything with a 15'' length like a 7a or steve gadd signature. i read an article about drummers with unique physical forms (injury related, genetic, etc.), there was a guy who had missing fingers and said that shorter sticks helped.
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Old 11-12-2011, 09:49 AM
Jim Mattingly Jim Mattingly is offline
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Great topic that I can personally relate to, maybe not to your friends extent but I can still relate. I began my drumming career as most of us did using the traditional grip. About 8 1/2 - 9 yrs. ago in a work related accident I lost a portion of my ring finger and smashed the tip of my middle finger on my left hand. I actually took the attached picture last week after a show we played and in this picture my pinky finger is broken, once again a work related accident. I no longer have any feeling in my ring finger and in only a portion of my middle finger. I had to learn how to play matched grip and have done very good with the transition, although for the show we played last week with my pinky finger broken I had to try and play traditional due to not being able to bend my pinky and from excruciating pain. I was able to get through the four sets but it was not the easiest, I actually lost 2 sticks during the show which is not common for me to lose any sticks at all, all in all it was suprisingly good.

I guess the best advice I could give your friend would be to play whichever way not only feels the most comfortable, but the way that will best enable him to become a solid/good drummer. He may not have blinding speed but being a speedy drummer does not make you a good drummer anyway. If he is serious and truly wants to become a drummer he will make it work. Wish him good luck and continue to be in his corner and be positive with him.
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:21 PM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
I would probably explain the concept behind a nice, repeatable stroke with a consistent fulcrum, and hand him a stick. I think if you hand him a stick butt-first, the way he takes it from you may well be the way he should hold it to play.
+1

See how he takes the stick and work from there, it has to feel natural for him...

Good luck.
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:35 PM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Well, obviously I'm teaching him matched grip with his right hand, so he'll be able to apply that to his left hand if he wants to. He seems to agree so far that trad grip is the way to go.
The index finger is pretty important in matched grip.
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:43 PM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

I have two drummer friends who have lost fingers from working in sawmills. They are both still playing, I can't really say how they hold their sticks. One uses gloves, I know that much.

I'd suggest you check out the Vic Firth Danny Carey sticks, they have an indent where your fulcrum sits and a thicker butt end which may make gripping the stick a little easier. Though, they are at the bigger end of the scale. There are some other sticks around like this as well.

Photo is quite big, might take a while to load: http://www.vicfirth.com/product/images/lg/SDC.tif

There also 'Gig Grips' - http://www.giggrips.com/ - Don't have any experience with them but might be worth checking out.
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:48 PM
Jim Mattingly Jim Mattingly is offline
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Quote:
Originally Posted by PQleyR View Post
Well, obviously I'm teaching him matched grip with his right hand, so he'll be able to apply that to his left hand if he wants to. He seems to agree so far that trad grip is the way to go.
The index finger is pretty important in matched grip.
Your last statement actually brought back a memory of a guy I knew way back when who used to hold the stick in his left hand and he would place the stick between his middle and ring finger, sort of in a fist type matched grip, he was actually a very good and proficient drummer. I have never seen anyone else who held a stick like this, something to ponder. That really is an old memory, glad I still had had it in the achives, you never know, maybe this might be a good answer....
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  #11  
Old 11-12-2011, 11:56 PM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

One of the most inspirational drummers ive ever seen was a guy called Brian who played for a band called Figure 5 i once saw at Brixton Academy...

anyway, this guy was drumming amazingly...and he had nothing beyond the elbow!

He had sticks strapped to his arms before the elbow using some kind of special harness, was so amazing to see someone still playing their instrument ridiculously well with this kind of impairment, and getting somewhere with it too!



Does make you think, nothing should get in the way of doing what you love
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  #12  
Old 11-13-2011, 05:36 AM
ddrumman2004 ddrumman2004 is offline
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

I have a grip problem with my left hand.....although I have all my digits on that hand.
I dang near cut my left hand off at age 6 and my dear departed dad always said the doctor that did the repair.."screwed it up". His words.
All the tendons and whatever were cut and I have what one doctor termed..."a claw deformity" and he gave me a 50% disability in that hand.

I have to play matched grip and I can't manipulate the stick with any of my fingers or use my thumb to any advantage other than to grip the stick.

I am not able to straighten the fingers completely out except for my little finger. Even then, i can't spread them apart or even bring them back together. When I straighten them out, the little finger sticks out to the side.

Anyway, I am able to hold my own playing, even though I'm no speed demon or able to do any fancy stick tricks or speed strokes. This guy, over time, will adapt...just like I have and at age 59, I have been dealing with it a long time.

Good luck!
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  #13  
Old 11-13-2011, 06:10 AM
Jim Mattingly Jim Mattingly is offline
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Quote:
Originally Posted by SitBack View Post
One of the most inspirational drummers ive ever seen was a guy called Brian who played for a band called Figure 5 i once saw at Brixton Academy...

anyway, this guy was drumming amazingly...and he had nothing beyond the elbow!

He had sticks strapped to his arms before the elbow using some kind of special harness, was so amazing to see someone still playing their instrument ridiculously well with this kind of impairment, and getting somewhere with it too!



Does make you think, nothing should get in the way of doing what you love
Frickin awesome, how inspirational is this, thanks for posting this....
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  #14  
Old 12-13-2011, 11:24 PM
carguy37757 carguy37757 is offline
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Hey, sorry for resurrecting an old thread, but I'd like to share my advice on this. I'm 32 and have been playing since middle school. We were taught both matched and traditional grip, though our primary focus for our drum corp was matched.

At age 19 I had a work related accident where I lost part of all 4 fingers on my right hand with no damage to my thumb (middle knuckle up on index finger, just below knuckle on middle, ring and pinky).

As others have mentioned, it's going to be what works best for your friend in maintaining control over the stick and still being able to apply the right amount of controlled force for striking the drum head. For me, initially, I had zero control either way. I actually started out with a modified glove for my right hand that had a loop in it to slide a drumstick in to that provided a way for me to hold the stick in as close to a matched grip position as possible, but I found that I was using so much more force from my wrist and arm to strike the head that I was in a lot of pain.

In the end, I ended up ditching the glove, wrapping my index and middle fingers in non-stick medical tape (the kind that only sticks to itself) for grip and playing with my stick between those 2 fingers with my thumb for support and fulcrum.

For me this ended up being the most comfortable way to play. Now, many years later, I'm to the point where I can play a little with a normal matched grip without wrapping my fingers around the stick, but not for a long period of time.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it may take some experimenting to get exactly what works for your friend. You're in a good position though. You're in a position where you can help coach your friend in proper technique for striking the drum and fills, and as he progresses, he will modify his grip and technique to what works the best for him.

Sorry for the long winded post, but I wanted to share my own personal experience.

Thanks!
Nick S.
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  #15  
Old 12-13-2011, 11:40 PM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Mattingly View Post
Your last statement actually brought back a memory of a guy I knew way back when who used to hold the stick in his left hand and he would place the stick between his middle and ring finger, sort of in a fist type matched grip, he was actually a very good and proficient drummer...
Carmine Appice does that. He's a helluva drummer too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS0BP9SQC3Y
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  #16  
Old 12-14-2011, 01:33 AM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Mr. Brian is a great inspirational example to all of us in Drummerworld. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SitBack View Post
One of the most inspirational drummers ive ever seen was a guy called Brian who played for a band called Figure 5 i once saw at Brixton Academy...

anyway, this guy was drumming amazingly...and he had nothing beyond the elbow!

He had sticks strapped to his arms before the elbow using some kind of special harness, was so amazing to see someone still playing their instrument ridiculously well with this kind of impairment, and getting somewhere with it too!



Does make you think, nothing should get in the way of doing what you love
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Old 12-14-2011, 01:35 AM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Rick Allen / Def Leppard is an inspiraton as well.
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:02 AM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Quote:
Hi guys,

I've just begun helping a friend of mine to learn to play the drums. However, I'm being forced to be quite creative about this as he has only two fingers and a thumb on his left hand, the middle and ring fingers. Obviously this is a bit of a game-changer as far as technique is concerned! My first thought was to teach him traditional grip as the stick is then held between the two fingers he does have, with the thumb providing additional control. I thought I'd mention it in case anybody had experience of this sort of thing or could provide me with any useful advice.
Does your friend wear prosthetic fingers?

If so perhaps the sticks could be positioned into a grip position with such fingers.

If not, then you will just have to get your student to adapt, to find the most comfortable grip for themself. Traditional grip and matched grip have both been formed for drummers having all fingers.

I doubt traditional grip will work since he has only a thumb, middle finger and ring finger, the traditional grip also relies on a fulcrum between index and thumb, since he does not have an index finger, a fulcrum with the middle finger will be quite awkward with hardly any fluid range of motion.
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:31 AM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Agree that your student can and will adapt if he is really interested in learning. My father lost his index and middle fingers on his left hand in an industrial accident in his early twenties. He taught himself to play the guitar with only the 3 fingers on that hand and led his own bands up through his 50s (with myself as a drummer from age 13 on). He continued to play and sing up until his death.

The point is, if you really want to play an instrument, there is plenty of inspiration out there from those who are doing it.

Great job in helping your student learn...keep up the good work.
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:43 AM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Inspirational - watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uot1XC-_DPA

Jeff
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Old 12-14-2011, 08:14 AM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Alvin Law has been drumming for over 40 years:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rICEDYgig3w

Many words describe him: hero, courageous, inspiring, leader.

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  #22  
Old 12-14-2011, 12:26 PM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

My goodness, what humbling examples in this thread.

Sorry Ben, I have no advice to give you, as my full complement of fingers technique sucks, but I think it's great that you're taking time to help a friend. Props to you, you're a goodun!
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:48 PM
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Default Re: Drumming with fingers missing

Quote:
Originally Posted by PQleyR View Post
Hi guys,

I've just begun helping a friend of mine to learn to play the drums. However, I'm being forced to be quite creative about this as he has only two fingers and a thumb on his left hand, the middle and ring fingers. Obviously this is a bit of a game-changer as far as technique is concerned! My first thought was to teach him traditional grip as the stick is then held between the two fingers he does have, with the thumb providing additional control. I thought I'd mention it in case anybody had experience of this sort of thing or could provide me with any useful advice.
great thread man. i myself have a heart condition that affects the thumb on my left hand.it's a very rare condition. my left thumb is underdeveloped and isnt jointed to my hand.basically it's a useless floppy thing.

i hold the stick between my index and middle finger(like gerald heyward or carmine appice) but i manage well.feels very natural and it's not a problem. i recently tried traditional grip and it's actually working better than matched!

i had a student once,she had very weak fingers and i could relate to her very well.she griped the stick the same way i did after i showed her.very cool and humbling.she was really good and loved drumming!

here's a vid of my playing,so you can see how my left hand hods the stick!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=678BD...w&feature=plcp
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