Left hand triplet fluidity

Acidline303

Senior Member
I realize there's probably a thousand threads here about "developing left hand speed" or something to that effect. I'm looking for advice on something more specific though.


For a right hander playing matched grip 90% of the time, I feel like I'm fairly even R vs. L when it comes to single stroke dynamics and control over alternating doubles. But when it comes to linear triplets, my right hand is Godzilla stomping on my puny left hand abilities. I can use the push pull concept with my right hands fingers quite well. Playing very smooth, quick triplets (double or the whole triplet) sensitively within the groove is easy, so long as it's my right leading. This unfortunately confines me to leading on specific parts of the kit, following certain patterns on a tom run, or if it's the hi hat, I can only use them while crossing over. Obviously this also completely prohibits leading with musically useful doubles on the snare if I'm playing the ride as well.

I'm not quite sure how this inequality happened. I'm sure I was guilty years ago of not practicing these as diligently with the left as with the right. I feel like most right handed drummers somehow develop a better left doubling triplet because of the frequency of grooves that seem to use them on the snare.

Anyway, are there any specific exercises/videos, hand practices during downtime, ect some of you run through to address this? thanks
 

JohnW

Silver Member
I think you just have to slow down enough to the point where your left hand can keep up with your right. And then maybe a bit slower than that. It might be a lot slower than you'd like so be patient. But once you get that tempo, make sure you bring your left stick to match your right, rather than dropping your right to match the left. There's a tendency to get lazy and want to do that (at least a tendency of mine). Use a mirror or record yourself and then play patterns that focus on the left, but not necessarily completely isolate the left.

One exercise I play has the main notes of triplets played on one hand, with the opposite hand dropping in or "meshing" notes. So with the left I would go L-L-L-LRLRLR, L-L-L-LRLRLR, etc. Sometimes I'll use Stick Control as a 'code book', where Right means triplet with one hand and Left means alternating sextuplet starting with that same hand. Then you reverse hands for the same line. The 1st column of page 5 would start out:

Line1: R-R-R-RLRLRLR-R-R-RLRLRL 4X Switch Lead: L-L-L-LRLRLRL-L-L-LRLRLR 4X

Line2: RLRLRLR-R-R-RLRLRLR-R-R- 4X Switch Lead LRLRLRL-L-L-LRLRLRL-L-L- 4X

Line3: R-R-R-R-R-R-RLRLRLRLRLRL 4X Switch Lead: L-L-L-L-L-L-LRLRLRLRLRLR 4X

Line4: RLRLRLRLRLRLR-R-R-R-R-R- 4X Switch Lead LRLRLRLRLRLRL-L-L-L-L-L- 4X

Line5: R-R-R-RLRLRLR-R-R-R-R-R-RLRLRLR-R-R-RLRLRLRLRLRL 2X Switch Lead L-L-L-LRLRLRL-L-L-L-L-L-LRLRLRL-L-L-LRLRLRLRLRLR 2X

Line6: R-R-R-RLRLRLRLRLRLR-R-R-RLRLRLR-R-R-R-R-R-RLRLRL 2X Switch Lead, etc.

Sometimes I play a slight accent at the beginning of each triplet/sextuplet grouping.

To make a smoother transition switching leads, I'll play alternating singles for the last triplet. I'd write it out but you'll figure it out on your own pretty quickly as you work through the exercises.

Another warmup exercise we play as a corp is a triplet variation of the "Stone Killer" exercise:

3 on a hand alternating. No metronome, just an agreed upon tempo. When everyone settles in, we go to 6 on a hand. Then 12. Then 24. When everyone is settled in, we go back to 3 on a hand, ratchet up the tempo and go through the whole exercise again. The whole thing is played at a medium loud to loud volume. When the last person drops out, we end!

If I do it by myself, I do 16 reps of each grouping.
 
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JohnW

Silver Member
I just want to amend the last post. I'd start out with the more calisthenic exercise: 3, 6, 12 & 24's on a hand to warm up. Then I'd try the simple version of 'meshing' singles, just short groupings like: R-R-R- R-R-R- RLRLRL R-R-R- R Stop. Then repeat. Your lead hand should feel uninterrupted when you drop in the alternate strokes. You can use any technique to achieve it (say, controlled wrist strokes) but it's designed to work especially well with finger technique and bouncing. I do a slight lift and throw for the accent stroke (the underlined letters). The following two strokes of the triplet are not exactly thrown away bounce strokes, but they're not over controlled either. Experiment with different feels, volumes and tempos. When you get it right, it feels effortless, though it may be hit and miss for awhile. Stick to one hand until you get comfortable. Then switch to left hand lead.

Listen for evenness. Make sure your sticks are balanced for pitch & weight and that you're not playing with half of your pad over a table leg (which can make one stick sound different). Watch yourself for evenness (in the mirror or recorded video).

Only when you get confident playing that pattern, should you play the Stick Control variations.

And for slight resistance while you're doing the warmup calisthenics, put a linen napkin or dish towel over your pad. Don't do it for the bouncing sextuplet/triplet singles exercise, though. That's more for control and finesse than endurance.
 
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