Another "bad left hand" thread

Magenta

Platinum Member
I didn't want to hijack Duck Tape's thread so here goes.

The ring finger of my left hand has been broken in a couple of places: the metacarpal, and between the middle and top knuckles. Both have resulted in slightly reduced mobility: if I lay my hand flat on the table, I can't lift that finger by itself, and when I clench my fist the finger doesn't close properly.

This means of course that my matched grip isn't truly matched. The stick feels different in my left hand and isn't cradled as securely in my fingers. My little finger barely touches the stick, if at all, so this means that it's mostly being held in the first two fingers. It's consequently not particularly surprising that my control isn't terribly good, especially when playing doubles.

I can't be the only drummer on here with dodgy fingers (that sounds awful) - how do other people compensate? I've been spending 2+ hours a day most days for the past two weeks on rebound strokes, accents and doubles using Tommy Igoe's Great Hands DVD and it's been this that has really flagged up the discrepancy between my hands. The offending metacarpal is also aching a bit, and I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad one.

Does anybody have any wisdom?
 

evolving_machine

Silver Member
Perhaps you may need some elastic to help your hand movement. I am not sure which way your hand is not moving so you may have to experiment a bit. Using rubber bands and band aides, or even surgical gloves, they may give you some assistance in moving the fingers. Be careful not to restrict the blood flow.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I don't want to get into traditional vs matched grips, but have you thought about switching your left hand to traditional and see if that works better for you? In terms of fingers, traditional grip would take the burden off your ring finger and you'll focus more on the fulcrum and your index and middle fingers.

I know it takes a little while to develop a grip, but maybe you could try a week or two of rudiments with traditional grip and see if it's any better for you...
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
I am not sure which way your hand is not moving
Apologies, I can't have explained it very clearly - it isn't something that would be helped by what you suggest, but thank you for answering :)

have you thought about switching your left hand to traditional and see if that works better for you? In terms of fingers, traditional grip would take the burden off your ring finger and you'll focus more on the fulcrum and your index and middle fingers.
That's a good idea and I can see how it might work. I have absolutely NO natural affinity for traditional grip. I'll get some lessons and see what happens. Thanks!
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
I don't want to get into traditional vs matched grips, but have you thought about switching your left hand to traditional and see if that works better for you? In terms of fingers, traditional grip would take the burden off your ring finger and you'll focus more on the fulcrum and your index and middle fingers.
I actually disagree with this

there is a pretty heavy burden on the ring finger with trad grip ... and also a quite heavy responsibility

it is the sticks main resting place where the stick will land every time returning to the home position ... and also the main propeller of the stick in pull outs , snap ups , and will throw and catch in constant motion during double strokes

... and I'm a full time trad player so I am in no way trying to make a case against trad grip

it is worth a shot but will not take any responsibility away from your ring finger
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Disclaimer: It's really hard to evaluate without seeing the hands in motion.
Disclaimer #2: I'm not a teacher.

But I think limited mobility of the ring finger is not exactly a death-knell for developing hand technique; you should be able to overcome that. The fulcrum is still the bread and butter of any grip. Most of us have naturally inferior left hands (or whatever side your weaker hand is on), and they require a lot of attention. It seems possible that some of the awkwardness and asymmetry you're experiencing is attributable to the gap in coordination and strength between hands that most of us experience even without injuries.

Again, I wouldn't take my advice. One of the teachers here or local to you would know better. Just my two cents.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
it is worth a shot but will not take any responsibility away from your ring finger
Hmm yes, I've just had a quick YouTube session and I see what you mean. The problem I have with matched is that the finger simply isn't strong enough to control the stick (maybe that's why the muscles in my hand have been hurting). Am I correct in thinking that with trad, although the stick is going to be resting on and controlled by the ring finger, ultimately the weight rests on the hand, and if so, does the finger need to be as strong as it needs to be for matched?
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
Hmm yes, I've just had a quick YouTube session and I see what you mean. The problem I have with matched is that the finger simply isn't strong enough to control the stick (maybe that's why the muscles in my hand have been hurting). Am I correct in thinking that with trad, although the stick is going to be resting on and controlled by the ring finger, ultimately the weight rests on the hand, and if so, does the finger need to be as strong as it needs to be for matched?
absolutely it needs to be as strong ... I may even argue stronger

but the responsibility is different ... give it a try
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
It seems possible that some of the awkwardness and asymmetry you're experiencing is attributable to the gap in coordination and strength between hands that most of us experience even without injuries.
Yes that's what I've always been told by my teacher, and I didn't doubt it. It's just that now the difference between my hands is greater than ever. I suppose that means I just keep on working hard then, doesn't it - whichever grip I end up with.

absolutely it needs to be as strong ... I may even argue stronger

but the responsibility is different ... give it a try
I will definitely give it a go, and I think that was what I was trying to say but you said it better! Thanks.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I actually disagree with this

there is a pretty heavy burden on the ring finger with trad grip ... and also a quite heavy responsibility

it is the sticks main resting place where the stick will land every time returning to the home position ... and also the main propeller of the stick in pull outs , snap ups , and will throw and catch in constant motion during double strokes

... and I'm a full time trad player so I am in no way trying to make a case against trad grip

it is worth a shot but will not take any responsibility away from your ring finger
True, and I'm full time trad as well, but to me the ring finger is a lot more static in terms of the metacarpals. It plays an important role in balancing the stick and pulling it out, but the finger doesn't need to bend like it would in mathced grip. It functions more like a base or a platform.

My impression from the post was that the finger was having trouble bending and closing, so I thought that having it act as the base and shifting the real finger motion to the first two fingers might better suit his condition. When I play trad I don't really bend my finger, I just use it as a base. When I'm pulling, I move my hand and use the ring finger as a base.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
My impression from the post was that the finger was having trouble bending and closing
Yes, that's the case.

so I thought that having it act as the base and shifting the real finger motion to the first two fingers might better suit his condition.
And yes, that's what I'm hoping will be the case. Tony describes it in his later post as the finger having different responsibility, so hopefully it will be up to the job.

However, in other news, I was just describing to somebody the weakness of the muscles in the hand, and showing them how I can't lift the finger by itself, and discovered that I can now raise it a little, which I haven't been able to do for 30 years. This leads me to think that the muscles are actually starting to strengthen as a result of all the work I've been doing for the past few weeks, and no wonder they ache!
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
True, and I'm full time trad as well, but to me the ring finger is a lot more static in terms of the metacarpals. It plays an important role in balancing the stick and pulling it out, but the finger doesn't need to bend like it would in mathced grip. It functions more like a base or a platform.
I still disagree... respectfully of course ... and was thinking about it ... so I shot a little slo mo that goes to real time at the end vid to see what my ring finger actually does
... it turns out that it does quite a bit of bending and pushing

so I still stand by my sentiment the ring finger has different but equal responsibility in each grip and does much more than function as a base
that a damaged ring finger may still feel the affect playing trad.
but giving it a shot is the only way to tell

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSdo99Tjo-w



.
 
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toddbishop

Platinum Member
Unless you're going to be hand modeling for drum media, it doesn't actually matter if your hands look matched. All that matters is that they sound matched, sometimes-- mainly when they're playing on the same part of the instrument. Most of the time when playing the drumset they just need to be able to balance-- to do different jobs at a complimentary volume. It sounds like you'll probably have to devise different techniques for each hand, and pay close attention to the sound you're getting-- just like you have to do if you're playing traditional grip.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I still disagree ... and was thinking about it ... so I shot a little slo mo that goes to real time at the end vid to see what my ring finger actually does
... it turns out that it does quite a bit of bending and pushing

so I still stand by my sentiment the ring finger has different but equal responsibility in each grip and does much more than function as a base
that a damaged ring finger may still feel the affect playing trad.
but giving it a shot is the only way to tell

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSdo99Tjo-w
Thanks for putting in the effort and filming this! I think we're running into some of the variations of traditional grip. I tried looking on this forum and on the internet about finget technique with trad grip, and eveyone seems to have their own version. I know when I started it was with Fife and Drum music, so the finger technique wasn't used a great deal as the heads didin't have a lot of rebound. Now that I'm almost exclusively jazz, I use the index and middle fingers, but I don't do much with my ring finger other than use it as a landing/launch pad. It's much like playing brushes, eveyone learns a baseline and then it evolves with their playing.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
Unless you're going to be hand modeling for drum media, it doesn't actually matter if your hands look matched. All that matters is that they sound matched, sometimes-- mainly when they're playing on the same part of the instrument. Most of the time when playing the drumset they just need to be able to balance-- to do different jobs at a complimentary volume. It sounds like you'll probably have to devise different techniques for each hand, and pay close attention to the sound you're getting-- just like you have to do if you're playing traditional grip.
The trouble is that they don't feel matched, which I think is what is throwing me, as well as the fact that they don't function equally, of course. Bit of a lightbulb moment re devising different techniques for each hand: it seems entirely logical now that you've said it, but it hadn't occurred to me; maybe I'd got too hung up on being matched. Thanks, Todd.

I still disagree... respectfully of course ... and was thinking about it ... so I shot a little slo mo that goes to real time at the end vid to see what my ring finger actually does
... it turns out that it does quite a bit of bending and pushing [/URL]
That was very enlightening! I think you're absolutely right that I may well run into similar problems with the finger if I play trad though.

I have a lesson in a bit to try and find a way forward. It turns out that neither of the teachers I use are keen on me changing my grip, I think because they feel it will take too long. I'm not convinced they have taken into account the fact that I often have the time and even more frequently have the inclination to spend hours working on stuff, but that said, if we can manage to tweak what I'm currently doing, I suppose it makes more sense to carry on rather than start from scratch, especially as we may end up in the same place anyway.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
One thing that's not in the tommy igoe DVD is wrist strokes and I think they might help you. I think bill Bachman was saying that you should use your wrists as much as you can before engaging the fingers and I have heard that elsewhere. While you might find the lifetime warm ups challenging, I don't think your ailment will hamper drumset playing as much.

Anyway the wrist strokes are prob on YouTube but basically you keep your fingers still and focus on getting your sticks nice and high.

Kroy is a user on here and he taught me these in a Skype lesson, he's very good!
 

John Lamb

Senior Member
Depends on volume - many jazz guys play with French grip - and wrist strokes just don't work there. Wrists use the same muscles as the fingers, and are a step up. If you want volume, then that is exactly correct. I'm also sure he'd tell you that if you want to develop whisper quiet strokes, then stick with the fingers first. (but don't isolate the fingers only!)

Any sort of power playing should include the elbow and shoulder.... the trouble is that large strokes using the whole arm are so powerful that most people find it difficult to develop because they'll but the brakes on in order to soften the blow. Full speed movements are very small, but for many should be developed with exaggerated, slower movements.


Regarding your hand, it sounds like there is soft tissue damage somewhere. It may be worth nothing that the pink and the ring finger share the same tendon, and *perhaps* including your pinky more may help out your ring finger, and bring it back to to close to full speed. Other than that, I fully agree with Todd that a different technique is probably the best solution - if your hand won't move that way, no sense in fretting about it.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
I'm grateful to everybody who's taken the trouble to reply.

It turns out that it's an overactive wrist, which was stifling the action of the fulcrum and causing the fingers to work overtime in order to compensate. It isn't the first time we've tried to correct this hand, but for whatever reason I wasn't able to do it before. I also discovered that my teacher has broken all four fingers on his left hand, and which forced him to amend and correct his grip, back in the mists of time. He was of the opinion that my wrist didn't trust my weak fingers to do their job, so it tried to do it for them, and that made sense to me.

By the end of the session I was playing even, secure strokes that sounded very much like my right-handed ones, including (slow) doubles. Nothing ached, and best of all the stick felt comfortable and much, much more like it feels in my right hand.

So I "just" need to correct the bad wrist habit, and then find something else to fret about :) It's actually rather sad how relieved I feel that this has been sorted out!
 

Mart61

Silver Member
Glad to read that you're on the road to correcting your concerns. I must say that I'm inspired by you, Madge. Really must look to practise more rather than just trying to play grooves.

Must pick up that Tommy Igoe DVD too...
 
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