By far, one of the most common challenges a drummer faces is strengthening their less dominant hand. You’ve probably noticed it when listening back on your playing or trying to work out a new groove or fill that requires a lot of input from your weaker side.
If you’re right handed, the reason why your left hand isn’t as strong or coordinated is simply because you aren’t working it as much as the right! This applies to both drumming as well as everyday life. In drumming, the right hand quickly becomes accustomed to handling the majority of the work. This includes the right hand hitting more accents, carrying the weight in stickings, leading a groove or phrase and playing a higher number of notes in general. In everyday life, it includes activities like using scissors, writing, brushing your teeth or using utensils. Try using your weak hand for these activities to improve strength and coordination away from the drums. You may find it’s a lot harder than you think! With time, your coordination will improve and those tasks will become much easier with your left hand, which will also spill over to your drumming. On a similar note, be sure to work out your left side just as much or a little bit more as your right when working out at the gym.
This “Left Hand Boot Camp” series turns the tables by focusing on your left hand rather than your right to strengthen your muscles and improve your coordination. Everything that your right hand has been responsible for in the past will now be the left hand’s duty. It also includes alternative workout tips for your hands in general. All exercises are notated with stickings.
HOW TO PRACTICE THESE EXERCISES:
Each exercise should be played at a slow tempo to start, especially when using them as warm-ups. Do not push yourself, as you don’t want to cause injury. Gradually increase speed, as you feel comfortable.
For the absolute minimum results, you should practice every exercise every day, at least five times through.
To increase your results, increase the amount of time spent practicing. In time, it’s guaranteed you will see a huge improvement in your left hand.
If you happen to be a lefty, don’t worry! Simply reverse the stickings in the exercises provided.
Left Hand Workout #1:
This first challenge of the series works out your brain as well as your limbs. It progresses from eighth notes, to triplets, to sixteenth notes, accenting every possible permutation within each rhythm. This gets your left hand to build up endurance as well as the ability to accent within different rhythms and speeds.
In the next segment of “Left Hand Bootcamp”, we’ll explore a new sixteenth-note based workout that will get your hand burning even more! Supplemental videos for each exercise are coming soon.