5 Tips for Improving Your Weak Hand as a Drummer
Perfecting your technique, practicing slowly, and leading with your weak hand even during practice sessions are great ways to improve your weak hand drumming. You can also try playing open-handed or basically do everything with your weak hand to improve it.
Drummers strive for perfection in timing, ease of expression, dynamics, and speed. If your weak hand is seriously lagging then you’re always going to remain imbalanced. It’s very difficult to achieve total ambidexterity with both limbs, but it’s worth trying to get as close as possible to it!
Which one is your weak hand? If you’re a right-handed drummer then this will most likely be your left hand. The opposite is true for lefties!
Making it a serious part of your routine to focus on your weak hand. Get started right away with the tips below:
1. Check Your Technique
Before you jump into a practice routine, play next to a mirror and compare your form. If you’re using matched grip then your motion should be very similar for both arms, wrists, and hands.
Start slow and increase speed. Your drumming form might be similar for low-speed strokes but it might greatly diverse as you increase it and get smaller muscles and joints involved.
If possible, seek the guidance of a local drum instructor to check out your form. It may help you get on the right track, and get out of the way of the drumstick!
2. Lead With Your Weak Hand on the Practice Pad
Get out your practice pad and go through each of the rudiments, but focus on leading with your left hand. If you don’t often do this, it can be quite a humbling experience. Rudiments you thought you were very solid at can start to feel difficult again.
If you don’t have a practice pad then get one. Every drummer should own at least one of these!
3. Practice Slowly
“Learn to walk before you run” – keep the speed relatively low for starters when you are trying to improve your weak hand. Oftentimes, drummers simply have less control and fluidity with their weak hands. Their strong hand is comfortable with fast speeds, therefore they expect that simply working on speed will be what’s needed to improve their weak hand.
There’s an issue with this. Practicing at very fast speeds will often prematurely skip the most important parts of development: building the foundations and essentials of drumming with your weak hand.
So practice to a metronome, and do it slowly; much slower than you might expect. Then gradually increase the speed over time as you feel your weak hand is getting more comfortable with the exercises.
4. Play Open-Handed on the Drum Set
On the drum set, you can also practice playing open-handed. In this case, your weak hand plays the hi-hat instead of crossing your arms. It might be more comfortable to lower the height of your hi-hat when doing this.
Playing open-handed is a great way to improve your overall coordination on the drum set, while also improving your weak hand. The difference in position can also change your perspective for drum beats and fills, as your strong hand gets into a position closer to your toms.
5. Do Everything With Your Weak Hand
I got this tip from an old video drum lesson by Ginger Baker, where he talked about improving his left hand by leading with that in everyday life. This could include everything such as unlocking your door, using the mouse on your computer, brushing your teeth, etc!
I know many people won’t go to such extremes as this. However, doing so for a little while makes us realize that our strong hand isn’t just dominant because we practice more with it.
It’s also strong because we lead with that every day. We likely have better overall coordination and muscle memory for that very reason! Therefore it’s no harm in starting with the basics.
It can often feel like an uphill battle to improve your weak hand, simply because we know what it feels like to have a much stronger one. Though the benefits are well worth putting in the time. Focusing on your weak hand will improve your coordination, speed, and technique. Doing so will make you a more versatile drummer and improve your range of expression.