Hessler's Open Handed Playing Vol. 1

Drums&Beer

Senior Member
Hey There,

I am curious about this book as an added resource for developing left hand lead techniques & coordination ideas for open handed playing. Can anyone vouch for it?

In the past as a tool for seeking balance and fluidity in my playing I have used some standards like Dowd's Funky Primer & the DeJohnette/Perry book to play left lead. I have also worked extensively with The New Breed. I know Hessler is a great open-hand player, & I am always looking for new approaches to this, especially since I am a righty.

In short, would Hessler's book provide added value or am I barking up a similar tree as the The New Breed, or turning around Reed's Syncopation Exercises with various left lead patterns?

thanks...
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I worked my way through Claus'/Dom's book and really enjoyed it. It also gave me ideas with which I could work further.

I've come to realize that most everything in coordination can be learned with Jim Chapin's Advanced Techniques and Reed's Syncopation, if you know how to get creative with them and apply them in new ways. You still need to get out of 4/4, which Steve Fidyk's coordination book does. Jeff Johnson recommended that one here on the form, and I found it very interesting and a lot of fun.

Claus' book is challenging. If you look though it and see those figures as a challenge, then I would work with it.
 

jivadayadasa

Senior Member
I am naturally right handed and I made the switch to open-handed playing in earnest in December 2009. I got Claus' book and have really enjoyed the ideas it has given me. There are certain sections that I wish were longer but it is indeed a valuable resource that I believe will be a great addition your other books like the New Breed. It is ideally for people who are buying into this approach all the way and it's definitely worth the small retail price.

I communicate relatively often with Claus (and Dom) and think he's one of the most generous drummers out there. He has given me extra ideas and reminded me of just how to use the book to maximize my creativity on the set.

Some of my peers thought I was crazy "starting over" with this approach but, now that I am 4 months into the journey, I am glimpsing a comfort level that I thought would take me a LOT longer to achieve. If you have the extra cash, please support Claus Hessler and buy his book. I very much doubt you'll regret it.

Jiva
 

Drums&Beer

Senior Member
Ken,

Would you recommend the Hessler book in conjunction with Fidyk's book or one over the other.

Jiva,

Thanks for the input and positive recommendation. It's good to know that it's a valuable resource on it's own merit and not just a rehash of other material written for left hand lead. Actually a lot of the players I know ask the same thing...."why the hell are you basically relearning the kit?, etc. etc." But there is an inexplicable feeling I get when I play open-handed. I know it stems from a greater sense of balance behind the drum set, but also from that feeling you get when you conquer rhythms that demand more complex interdependence. Mostly I enjoy the challenge. The thing that I find most interesting at this point is that my right hand is stronger but my left is capable of a greater dynamic range. My right hand at this point doesn't do ghost notes, Ha Ha.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Ken,

Would you recommend the Hessler book in conjunction with Fidyk's book or one over the other.

Jiva,

Thanks for the input and positive recommendation. It's good to know that it's a valuable resource on it's own merit and not just a rehash of other material written for left hand lead. Actually a lot of the players I know ask the same thing...."why the hell are you basically relearning the kit?, etc. etc." But there is an inexplicable feeling I get when I play open-handed. I know it stems from a greater sense of balance behind the drum set, but also from that feeling you get when you conquer rhythms that demand more complex interdependence. Mostly I enjoy the challenge. The thing that I find most interesting at this point is that my right hand is stronger but my left is capable of a greater dynamic range. My right hand at this point doesn't do ghost notes, Ha Ha.

There is a beauty to having 'different hands,' one stronger one more subtle. But the ability to have more flexibility with both hands will free up your creativity. I like Gary Chester's attitude and that is that OHP will free up your creativity to create new groove ideas. Along those lines, the Hessler book really is a very musical approach to getting around the set with OHP in a variety of styles, something that Chester started.

The Fidyk book is different because it deals specifically with jazz. It is really a further development of Chapin's work with additional melodies and time signatures. I found it invaluable to work on my 3/4. I would get both.
 

jivadayadasa

Senior Member
But there is an inexplicable feeling I get when I play open-handed. I know it stems from a greater sense of balance behind the drum set, but also from that feeling you get when you conquer rhythms that demand more complex interdependence. Mostly I enjoy the challenge.
I totally identify with this. An inexplicable feeling, an intense challenge, and an awesome pay-off when you start really gettin' it.

Right on man!
 

Drums&Beer

Senior Member
Once again thank you both for the info on the Hessler book, and Ken thanks for the tip on the Fidyk book. I can always use more jazz books. I don't think I own too many dealing with odd time.

I'll make these my summer challenge.

Cheers.
 

skreg

Senior Member
I'm working through the book now. I've set aside all my other coordination books to work on Hessler's because the way he has conceptualized coordination makes more sense than any other book I've owned. Instead of "Let's play a whole bunch of random patterns over some ostinatos" Hessler's book is very thorough and well thought out. The emphasis is on developing the feel for interlacing Moeller motions, meaning combining accent patterns with both hands over foot patterns. They feel really, really great to practice and have definitely changed my hands a lot. As opposed to other coordination books I've seen, the emphasis is placed more heavily on dynamic control (which is really just another level of coordination).

I was attracted to it not only because I love Famularo's and Hessler's playing and because I like playing OHP, but because, again, conceptually, the system makes the most sense to me.
 

Drums&Beer

Senior Member
I'm working through the book now. I've set aside all my other coordination books to work on Hessler's because the way he has conceptualized coordination makes more sense than any other book I've owned. Instead of "Let's play a whole bunch of random patterns over some ostinatos" Hessler's book is very thorough and well thought out. The emphasis is on developing the feel for interlacing Moeller motions, meaning combining accent patterns with both hands over foot patterns. They feel really, really great to practice and have definitely changed my hands a lot. As opposed to other coordination books I've seen, the emphasis is placed more heavily on dynamic control (which is really just another level of coordination).

I was attracted to it not only because I love Famularo's and Hessler's playing and because I like playing OHP, but because, again, conceptually, the system makes the most sense to me.
Skreg,

I just started the Hessler book about 2 weeks ago & I agree. Way more content that I could have ever hoped for and very well organized. Hessler's approach and his desired results for students of his book is not just about turning things around to play OHP, it's all about balance. I have barely scratched the surface of this book, but I feel I am starting to turn the corner with it. Having worked out of the New Breed for several years, I was afraid that this book wouldn't be covering much new ground but that's definitely not the case.

I also picked up the Steve Fidyk book that Ken had recommended to bolster my jazz playing a bit. Love the odd-meter sections in this one. It's challenging stuff, but very practical as well.
 

skreg

Senior Member
Skreg,

I just started the Hessler book about 2 weeks ago & I agree. Way more content that I could have ever hoped for and very well organized. Hessler's approach and his desired results for students of his book is not just about turning things around to play OHP, it's all about balance. I have barely scratched the surface of this book, but I feel I am starting to turn the corner with it. Having worked out of the New Breed for several years, I was afraid that this book wouldn't be covering much new ground but that's definitely not the case.

I also picked up the Steve Fidyk book that Ken had recommended to bolster my jazz playing a bit. Love the odd-meter sections in this one. It's challenging stuff, but very practical as well.
I've been averaging an hour a day on the Hessler book since October, and I have to say that it's quite the challenge. I'm still working things SLOWLY and really letting the motions secure themselves. I'm really stubborn and patient, so I'm working everything both left hand lead and right hand lead.

My teacher Randy Herbert assigned me the New Breed to work on last summer, and I spent about 40 hours on it and decided I needed something with more focus on dynamic control. I also wanted to work on triplet based patterns, which aren't contained in Chester's systems. I'm going to return to it after I feel like I've gotten control over the Hessler book - about a year from now, I figure.

I get to see Randy again in a few weeks, I sent him some stuff from the book and am very interested to see what he says.

It would be interesting to see how Hessler or Famularo would recommend integrating the left foot into these exercises. That's one thing that's great about Chester's book - seeing how to work the left foot into grooves.

If you haven't seen Hessler's videos on drummerworld, they're totally crazy. It really gives you a (humbling) perspective on what's possible using this kind of approach. Even listening to the play alongs in the book - "Fever Pitch" - you can really tell that his playing is different on some fundamental level.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I didn't get this from Dom, but one of the things I do is play the HH on the sixteenth note that isn't part of the left hand HH pattern.
 

skreg

Senior Member
I didn't get this from Dom, but one of the things I do is play the HH on the sixteenth note that isn't part of the left hand HH pattern.
You mean with your left foot?

On the DVD "Arrival" Russ Miller recommends something similar - don't remember exactly what it is - to develop really solid timing. When you watch drummers like Miller and Carlos Vega, you can see them lift the hat while they're playing patterns on it with their hand, but without making an open-hat sort of sound.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
You mean with your left foot?

On the DVD "Arrival" Russ Miller recommends something similar - don't remember exactly what it is - to develop really solid timing. When you watch drummers like Miller and Carlos Vega, you can see them lift the hat while they're playing patterns on it with their hand, but without making an open-hat sort of sound.
Yes, with your left foot. But in a 16th note pattern, it is going to be hard to to not get a pea soup kind of sound, though it is possible. The other thing I like to do is a straight 8th note pattern where the two and four are played with the left hand on the snare and the left foot plays the HH without getting an open sound. It really gets fun when you syncopate the snare and high hat.
 
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