If you’re like most drummers, you have one hand that doesn’t always like to cooperate. And for some, the frustration that ensues makes it much easier to just ignore the problem and favor the dominant hand. Over time, while the stronger hand gets better control and technique, the weaker hand just gets… well, weaker and weaker.
But just like switch hitters are invaluable players on a baseball team, learning how to build strength in your weaker hand can make you a much more efficient drummer. Here are a couple of tips to get you started…
(1) Switch it up.
Try using your non-dominant hand for every day activities like opening doors and brushing your teeth. It might seem silly, but training that hand is part of the process. The more you use it, the more efficiently you can train it.
(2) Practice rudiments that utilize the weaker hand.
Practicing certain rudiments can help with your stick control, leading to increased speed and improved dexterity. And by focusing on exercises that stress the weaker hand, you can work your speed up until you can play evenly and smoothly. Set your metronome to a slow setting, and practice patterns of quarter notes or sixteenth notes with your weaker hand. Make sure you’re keeping the volume level, as well. As you get more comfortable, increase the tempo a bit more each time.
(3) Work on open-handed drumming.
Open-handed drumming exercises will also help. Basically, this means flipping your normal hands; if you normally play the hi-hats with your right and snare with your left, switch it around so you’re leading with your left hand. This may be hard at first, but it will get easier with more practice.
Bonus tip: Try practicing your rudiments on a pillow! Since you’ll be getting less rebound than a typical drum head, you’ll be working harder to pull your stick up, which will improve your strength. Ditto goes for using heavier drumsticks.
Just remember: no matter how frustrated you get, keep practicing! With patience, time and deliberate practice, you’ll master that switch hitting expertise.
Photo by Kuba Bozanowski.