It’s a common fact that you have more control, strength and endurance with one side of your body. As a drummer, more than speed than flashy stick tricks it’s vital to have good control over what you’re playing. Holding the tempo by playing a simple beat with the right dynamics puts you ahead of most drummers. One thing to concentrate on here is how you play and continue to improve with your weaker side of the body. Since most drummers are right handed, their left foot and left hand are major areas of concern when it comes to dexterity. I’ve always found it a lot more difficult to develop control over my feet than my hands so I’m focussing mainly on foot strength here.
Firstly, I think it’s very important to use the hi-hat pedal with your left foot whenever a song allows you to. When you’re home, practice using the hi-hat pedal a lot. It’s there for a reason. Opening the hi-hats on a quarter note and closing them at the next quarter note interval with your left foot is a good way to start off while practicing. This improves limb independence as well. So while your right hand is playing over the other cymbals, your left leg maintains a constant pulse. This also ensures you stick to the tempo. Once you’re comfortable playing them at every quarter note interval, you can do the same at every 1/8th interval and work around other patterns. This concept of playing the hi-hats greatly helps if you’re dealing with modulation of beats. You’ll exactly know at what part of the beat you are in and you’ll know when to join back to the regular groove after you’re done having fun in modulation land.
While the above doesn’t help greatly in developing strength in your left foot, it certainly is a start to build some control over what you’re left foot is doing and makes your left foot a lot more independent. More importantly, using this in songs can really add a lot to the song on the whole.
It’s common these days for drummers to buy a double bass pedal with their kit even though that does a lot more harm to your playing in most cases. Once you have a double bass pedal, speed becomes a major aspect of playing and it clouds other characteristics of playing. So while you maybe able to play a continuous 16th note pattern on the double bass at 180bpm, you may still struggle to alternate between your feet during patterns of in groups of 3 or 5 or any odd number of notes which will have to end with your dominant right foot and begin the same pattern the following time with your weaker left foot.
The easiest way to start off developing some power in your left foot is to play the exact groove you normally play but with your left foot handing the kick. Practice this everyday and your left leg will slowly develop some strength. Rudiments have an overwhelming effect on your playing and can significantly improve your foot control. Do not neglect them. A simple Paradiddle can do a lot of good. But it’s important to move on from the paradiddle to other rudiments and also syncopated patterns that include both you right and left foot. Spending a little time on this on a daily basis is always the best way to go about it.
For speed and endurance the Derek Roddy exercise works like a charm. Look it up online if you’re wondering what it’s about. He is such a phenomenal player and has brilliant control over his playing.
It’s pretty much the same with the hands as well. Rudiments have helped me immensely over the years. Even though my left hand and feet are still a bit weaker compared to my right side, it’s a lot better than it was a year back and it’s continuing to improve.
Feel free to comment on other methods that’ve worked for you when it comes to developing strength, endurance and control.
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Gears : DB , Zildjian ZBT , Vic Firth, Wincent
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