Like all clichéd essays written by lazy high school students, this article begins with a question, specifically “why do you even need to improve your weak hand?” Well, fake person, let me tell you.
When you’re playing the kit, you might occasionally notice that you’re lacking in speed and control. Maybe you’ve started a big, badass, glam rock fill on the wrong hand and things have gotten out of control. If you spent 10 minutes per day working on your weak hand, these scenarios would crop up less often.
While I mentioned speed and control, this article isn’t entirely about that. Unfortunately for a drummer with a lack of time on their hands, these key areas are made up of smaller points that need individual focus.
We’re going to be talking about improving your weak hand, today and your weak hand is the often-overlooked key to gaining speed and control of your playing.
I noticed I was beginning all my fast fills with my left hand, as it’s naturally my dominant, but I play right handed, likely because my teacher didn’t want to set 2 kits up at lesson, so I do these exercises to improve my right hand.
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to use left hand as the weak hand when adding sticking to notation.
If you’re a left-handed drummer, flip it round. To be honest, it wouldn’t hurt to practice all these exercises with written and reversed sticking. Play them all at a comfortable tempo, like 100 BPM.
I once heard on a podcast that Travis Barker uses this as a warm up and I just took it as gospel. I don’t know what evidence the claimant had, but regardless, it’s a handy exercise that forces you to tackle some 3-in-a-rows.
If anything, this one exists just to keep your brain working while you’re playing through some monotonous exercises. Like with all of these, your weak hand is forced to do some heavy lifting, while the dominant hand only pops up to keep you on your toes.
Pay attention that you’re not dragging in the middle of this one, as so many weak hands in a row has a tendency to encourage.
Obviously, it was all leading to this. Keep it consistent in volume and tempo while running it for a minute or so. A way to keep this exercise fresh is to add accents in odd places, to ensure you do in fact have control and you’re not just on auto pilot.
Let’s move on to triplets. The change in beat division ensures you’re not phoning it in and are still paying full attention.
This exercise is pretty standard, but not worth overlooking. Try playing it with the sticking as written, then reverse the sticking in the following bar and repeat.
This one is surprisingly tricky. Often with triplets, we’ll stick to one sticking pattern, like with the last exercise – you always know one of your hands will be leading and one will be filling in the latter two beats. With this one, the sticking jumps from 1 2 to 1 1 1 (if that makes sense).
As with the quaver exercises, now play a minute or so of triplets with just your weak hand, then your dominant. While that seems excessive, paying attention to dividing beats differently and correctly is good for your weak hand, which so often just plays back up.
I apologize for the formatting of the final exercise, but hopefully you get the gist.
Basically, this one is just playing ruffs, but with each one, swapping the hand that begins the rudiment. You’ll probably find that playing a ruff starting on your weak hand is annoyingly difficult, considering how easy it is for your dominant hand. This exercise also serves as a good measure of progress, as you’ll be able to clearly hear the difference and progression in each hand.