What's your opinion on open-handed drumming?

RevWrona

Senior Member
Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming? I spend about ten minutes of my regular routine playing open handed. While I currently have no intention of playing open handed while playing live I do this broaden my dynamics. I approach this as the same reason why I learn all my rudiments on with my feet.
 

PeteN

Silver Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

Huge improvements to one's playing can come from open handed practice. You'd be amazed what playing a song like billy jean open handed over and over for an hour straight could do to your pocket and your left hand.

Also a lot more fum than just working on your left hand by itself.
 

longgun

Gold Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

I think it is necessary to learn to play open handed.....I suck at it, but it has helped at times......mostly when I've cramped up, dropped a stick, etc
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

I think it's great. Why limit oneself and not learn it... Drummers are striving for balance and open handed playing does this - feeing you up for new things and giving you more flexibility.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

At the risk of having eberyone jump all over me, it's totally overrated.

Why spend countless hours teaching yourself to play something lefty that you can already play righty? That's what the large majority of open handed practice time is, teaching yourself how to do stuff you already know.

The practice time could better be spent developing something that will actually expand your musical vocabulary.

Some of the common "pro" open handed argumemnts:

1. "It develops the weak hand." Truth is, a proper hand technique practice regimen will do everything for your hands. You do not need to spend time using your left hand as a ride just to develop singles.

2. "It expands your musical horizons": This one always cracks me up. Where is all of this incredibly amazing music being made by the "new generation" of drummers? Just because you can now hit a tom easily while not stopping the ride doesn't automatically qualify the technique as groundbreaking.

Why don't guitar players play lefty guitars as well for that matter? I'm sure the effort required to relearn the instrument would be of some benefit somehow but they don't do it. Why? Because the accepted boundaries of the instrument have been established and, within those boundaries, true creative expression occurs. Just moving the boundaries does NOT automatically constitute creativity.

OK, let the piling on begin!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

OK Jeff, I'll start the dogpile...

Have to disagree. I think a standard hand technique practice regimen is not enough. The left hand needs to be able to lead the way just as capably as the right hand, which feels quite retarded when you first "switch roles". I believe left hand lead is essential practice for a drummer. The guitarist comparison doesn't work with me. Drummers need equal capability between hands, as they are both striking the drum. With guitarists, their picking hand doesn't fret (touch playing excepted) and their fretting hand doesn't pick (generally speaking)

With drummers, both hands hit drums in the same manner. It is in the best interest of the drummer (and their listeners!) to be equally capable between hands. It's a fantastic goal, equalization. I think open handed playing helps a great deal in getting the weak hand to lead the beat. You could have equal hands, but it's a brain thing leading with the left. Equal hands, equal brain halves, that's my goal.

I just became equal this year after about 8 years of pursuing that particular goal. OMG my left hand is adding stuff to my beats, without me even trying. It's like I grew a new brain for that hand, for real.

So in summary, the left hand lead is great for strengthening the left hand. But the brain coordination is the real benefit. One can strengthen the left hand without leading with the left. But leading with the left is where the real benefits come in to play. Try writing your name with your weak hand. Or brushing your teeth. The strength may be there, but the coordination is way under developed.

Shuffling with the left hand on the snare with a rimshot backbeat is just a killer exercise, as is the jazz ride pattern played on a cymbal.
 

PeteN

Silver Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

OK Jeff, I'll start the dogpile...

Have to disagree. I think a standard hand technique practice regimen is not enough. The left hand needs to be able to lead the way just as capably as the right hand, which feels quite retarded when you first "switch roles". I believe left hand lead is essential practice for a drummer. The guitarist comparison doesn't work with me. Drummers need equal capability between hands, as they are both striking the drum. With guitarists, their picking hand doesn't fret (touch playing excepted) and their fretting hand doesn't pick (generally speaking)

With drummers, both hands hit drums in the same manner. It is in the best interest of the drummer (and their listeners!) to be equally capable between hands. It's a fantastic goal, equalization. I think open handed playing helps a great deal in getting the weak hand to lead the beat. You could have equal hands, but it's a brain thing leading with the left. Equal hands, equal brain halves, that's my goal.

I just became equal this year after about 8 years of pursuing that particular goal. OMG my left hand is adding stuff to my beats, without me even trying. It's like I grew a new brain for that hand, for real.

So in summary, the left hand lead is great for strengthening the left hand. But the brain coordination is the real benefit. One can strengthen the left hand without leading with the left. But leading with the left is where the real benefits come in to play. Try writing your name with your weak hand. Or brushing your teeth. The strength may be there, but the coordination is way under developed.

Shuffling with the left hand on the snare with a rimshot backbeat is just a killer exercise, as is the jazz ride pattern played on a cymbal.
It's a great thing when your left hand starts to have equal control, independence and creativity like your right hand. My only regret is that I would have committed to this many years ago.

I've spent many hours so far practicing beats open handed out of my funky primer and my advanced funk studies books and I love the balance I'm getting between my hands.

When I decided to learn to play open handed I spent many hours playing along to billy jean on my edrums and now I work mostly on my books to the metronome on the acoustic kit. The beats in the books are easy to play with my right hand and at first seemed impossible with my left hand but now I can swap hands between measures and it's fluid sounding and smooth. Love that control.

My fills have benefited a lot as well my stick control.

Open handed practice is a win win in my book.

Jeff....I definitely disagree with you lol, but hey if we all agreed life would be boring!

To be honest....tackling the stuff I can't do makes my journey more interesting and rewarding.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

...... but now I can swap hands between measures and it's fluid sounding and smooth. Love that control.

My fills have benefited a lot as well my stick control.

Open handed practice is a win win in my book.

To be honest....tackling the stuff I can't do makes my journey more interesting and rewarding.
I'm with you brother. It's the things I can't play that hold the most interest for me while practicing. I'll just go down and play, and within a few minutes, I'll stumble onto something that doesn't come out naturally. Then I just stop and work that until I get it.
 

rock fan

Junior Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

So Billy Cobham and Carter Beauford both open handed drummers are overated?
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

At the risk of having eberyone jump all over me, it's totally overrated.

Why spend countless hours teaching yourself to play something lefty that you can already play righty? That's what the large majority of open handed practice time is, teaching yourself how to do stuff you already know.

The practice time could better be spent developing something that will actually expand your musical vocabulary.

Some of the common "pro" open handed argumemnts:

1. "It develops the weak hand." Truth is, a proper hand technique practice regimen will do everything for your hands. You do not need to spend time using your left hand as a ride just to develop singles.

2. "It expands your musical horizons": This one always cracks me up. Where is all of this incredibly amazing music being made by the "new generation" of drummers? Just because you can now hit a tom easily while not stopping the ride doesn't automatically qualify the technique as groundbreaking.

Why don't guitar players play lefty guitars as well for that matter? I'm sure the effort required to relearn the instrument would be of some benefit somehow but they don't do it. Why? Because the accepted boundaries of the instrument have been established and, within those boundaries, true creative expression occurs. Just moving the boundaries does NOT automatically constitute creativity.

OK, let the piling on begin!
I have played open handed, left hand hats and ride, for 30 years, and never played any other way, and I largely agree with you. If you can play fine crossed, then there's no need to play open.

Funny you should mention guitarists playing "left-handed." Playing left or right handed has absolutely no connection to playing crossed or open. Don't you mean how come no one plays guitar with their hands crossed over each other? For the same reason no one plays piano, types, eats, drives or does anything else with their hands crossed. Crossing the hands to do anything is awkward and promotes injury. Must be an "accepted boundary" of ergonomics!

If you play like everyone else, you will sound like everyone else.
 

LukeSnyder

Gold Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

2. "It expands your musical horizons": This one always cracks me up. Where is all of this incredibly amazing music being made by the "new generation" of drummers? Just because you can now hit a tom easily while not stopping the ride doesn't automatically qualify the technique as groundbreaking.
I'd just like to address this one point, by just linking to a single video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SITWnpJGOyQ&feature=plcp
 

kettles

Gold Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

I've always been a fairly regular practice pad user. And my left hand is still WAY behind my right. My right hand has to ride fast on a tom, alternate between the bell and bow of my ride (accuracy), play fast 16ths one handed on the hats, using a Moeller stroke... When I learned all these things I had no other choice but to use my main, already coordinated hand. Usually started from having to play a cover or original song how I wanted to play it. A few years ago we learned Badfish by Sublime, which has fast 16ths on the hats for the whole song. Pad practice is all well and good but there's nothing else like actually using your hands on different surfaces, at different angles, and moving between them like playing on a kit.

So now I'm leading with my left hand wherever possible to help build it up.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

I'd just like to address this one point, by just linking to a single video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SITWnpJGOyQ&feature=plcp
I'm largely with Jeff here. As a traditional grip player, I find that I like my hands to be different. They communicate with each other in a different way and I play very differently when I'm playing traditional as opposed to when I'm playing matched. I play fewer rimshots, for instance and it's not all entirely conscious.

Luke, that video was good. One thing bothers me though. He's clearly an excellent player with fantastic balance between his hands but I have to question his mirror-image approach. In a track like that, having a 'mirrored' kit doesn't seem to make much sense. The cymbals on each side aren't really varied enough for most people to tell the difference. His balance is impressive but I suspect that a very good player could play substantially the same thing cross-handed. The 'mirror-image' approach just doesn't have enough variety in this instance.

I have to state that I see no point in switching if you've already learned one approach, there is little value in learning the other. Unless a very specific musical context arrives.
 

cp84

Senior Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

i'm with jeff on this one. i think leading with your left hand on the hihat is a bit of a waste of time.

hitting cymbals requires a different touch to hitting a snare drum. i'd rather spend time improving my time and my feel than spend it leading with my left.

playing jazz has done wonders for my left hand. when i practise my jazz style, my left hand does as as much, if not more than my right. i'd rather spend time developing my left hand with interesting ghosts and snare comping and expand my vocabulary that way than by simply reversing my hands and "evening" things out. things aren't meant to be even. On the jojo dvd he talks about ying and yang and I'd rather take that approach. I'd rather embrace the differences between my limbs than strive for symmetry.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

I'd rather embrace the differences between my limbs than strive for symmetry.
This actually crystallizes the entire subject. Some say Viva la difference while others strive for symmetry. Either preference is equally valid. I'm completely floored when I hear a creamy smooth SSR, when I hear an unbalanced one, I always feel the drummer wasn't up to snuff compared to the other instruments. Matter of pride. Symmetry seems harder to do, and I usually equate that to better.

So how does the middle ground stand on this issue?
 

drummerpig

Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

While I don't necessarily practice everything open-handed, I find it extremely useful for fills starting with the left hand. If you can use your weaker hand to start and end fills, you'll find an entire new realm of chops that are way easier to execute instead of crossing over to grab a hit on the hi-hat, for example.

You can end up with all sorts of new ideas and orchestrations that you may not have otherwise found or have been able to pull off using only your strong-hand as the lead. I guess it just depends on how you use open-handed drumming. I see it more as a gateway to new things instead of just solidifying what I already know.
 

The Black Page Dude

Senior Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming? I spend about ten minutes of my regular routine playing open handed. While I currently have no intention of playing open handed while playing live I do this broaden my dynamics. I approach this as the same reason why I learn all my rudiments on with my feet.
I ask .. why wouldn't a drummer learn ambidexterity if it meant that their playing would be unlimited and probably increase one's skill level? It doesn't mean you HAVE to play that way live. I watched Cobham from side stage once and the freedom that man enjoys because he can play open handed is astounding, same for Dom.

I would say from a learning stand point that any amount of time spent increasing your prowess on your less dominant side will automatically make you better in all areas of your playing .. time, feel, meter, independence, rudiments etc. By the very basics of it, you are exercising a part of your brain and body that doesn't get utilized fully ... a win win for sure.

When I did teach, I taught every new student to play open handed and they picked it up very quickly. In fact all my former students that I taught open hand playing to do not fully understand why crossing over is beneficial at all ... but they can play that way too if they want! They are limitless in their set up and ability! Always a good thing in music. ;)
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

I ask .. why wouldn't a drummer learn ambidexterity if it meant that their playing would be unlimited and probably increase one's skill level? It doesn't mean you HAVE to play that way live. I watched Cobham from side stage once and the freedom that man enjoys because he can play open handed is astounding, same for Dom.

I would say from a learning stand point that any amount of time spent increasing your prowess on your less dominant side will automatically make you better in all areas of your playing .. time, feel, meter, independence, rudiments etc. By the very basics of it, you are exercising a part of your brain and body that doesn't get utilized fully ... a win win for sure.

When I did teach, I taught every new student to play open handed and they picked it up very quickly. In fact all my former students that I taught open hand playing to do not fully understand why crossing over is beneficial at all ... but they can play that way too if they want! They are limitless in their set up and ability! Always a good thing in music. ;)
I have always played open, left hand hats and ride, and I am as set in my ways as any crossed drummer. I rarely ever play ride or hats with my right hand. Given the limited time I have to practice, I can't afford to cross-train my hands - it would seem to take about twice as long to learn anything, for dubious benefit. Kind of like double pedals - lots of work and relatively little application.

If someone is just starting out, I certainly advocate them learning open style - and sticking with their assigned hand roles.
 

ageadm

Senior Member
Re: Whats your opinion on open-handed drumming?

I think it's a great way to strengthen your left hand. I play open handed once in a while, not that often. I think I should start using it a bit more.
 
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