Blog

Common Left Hand Asymmetries

The most common differences in functionality between our right and left arms and hands, come from the way we play beats, particularly when the right hand is playing hi hat and the left hand is playing snare.

In this position the left hand spends more of it’s time flexed and with an ulnar deviation. This causes the flexor muscles in the forearm to work a lot harder than the less active extensors. Which is quite different to how the right hand tends to work.

D587324F-728A-4063-9FDD-72A7E3D443D5.jpeg

Solutions:

-Make sure you stretch your flexor muscles in your left hand regularly.

E2C6CFE8-39BC-4531-AD89-E0F8B2A5F111.jpeg

-Set up your drum kit left handed and practise some wrist-heavy beats. This will force your left wrist to behave differently and recruit the extensor muscles more.

 

Right Pectoral Muscles Tightness

Playing the drums involves a lot of dynamic movement from the arms. But a very common position for drummers is with the left hand playing the snare drum and the right hand reach across to the left to play the hi hat cymbal. This is a common position for playing beats.

%

Being in this position for long periods of time can often cause the pectoral muscles (pectoralis major, pectoralis minor) to shorten, which can create a issues like a feeling of tightness, and reduced functionality and reduced range of motion.

B8959E28-8C3F-41FA-ABDA-3E15DF18CB72

 

If you believe you have an injury in this are of your body, I recommend seeing your local health professional (Physiotherapist, Myotherapist, Osteopath etc).

However here are a couple of activities that will help with maintain functionality and range of motion.

 

 

1. Stretching

A great stretch for your pecs is the doorway pec stretch. Place the inside of your right forearm against the frame of the of an open doorway, and then slowly turn your body left until you feel a stretch. As a general rule, hold the stretch for at least 10 seconds.]

B8CAA6B1-B3AD-4180-A5B8-A2BC3E97F002

*always stretch both sides

 

2. Practise on a left handed kit

Reading Drum Notation Part 1 – How to Read Notes

This is a stave.

A777FB60-4815-4BD7-80A5-B8DF3300968A

A stave is where we write musical notes.

Here is a note.

E9BF93EE-0A04-4326-B1E9-D2DEC3EDD7A8.jpeg

Here is another note.

47BD5C9E-B5C7-4BDA-9DE5-98072B7A9397

As you can see, notes can be written on different spaces or lines of the stave. The space or line the note is written on, tells us what note to play, or what drum/cymbal to hit.

Notes can be written a few different ways.

Here is a note with a stem.

B4EAAB1E-9C0B-4F0F-9767-C0F5B06FCCA8.jpeg

Here is a note with a stem and a tale

3B84C70A-1559-4B7F-B4B1-00C7375C98C5.jpeg

Here are two notes with their tales connected to each other (a common way to neaten up tales)

C3612D79-8E4B-447C-99DF-31A213E84EB8.jpeg

Stems and tales affect how fast or long a note is but they don’t affect what the note is. We always look for the position of the note itself to know what note it is.

 

 

Here is a bass drum note. As you can see the note is in the bottom space. Bass drums are always written here

0AD83222-4DB7-4601-90CE-DC2F38E58796.jpeg

Here is a snare drum note. The snare drum is in the space second from the top. Snare drums are always written here.

FF2E5171-4570-4F40-8968-710C648C1677

Here are the notes for the tom toms. Tom 2 is unique as it is the only drum (in a basic drum kit) written on a line instead of a space.

733D0886-FDBD-4221-8CE7-E92592ED21F3.jpeg

Notes for cymbals look a little different. Instead of a black dot, they look more like an ‘X.’ There can be a lot of variations of cymbal notation. Most drumming books have a notation key at the start of the book, so always refer to that if you’re working out of a book.

Here is the most common type of cymbal notation that I come across.

0A8D5AD4-AB87-480F-A72A-D69D395136C6

 

In part 2 we will look at some basic drum beats and fills written out using this notation.

Lesson – Play Drums Left-Handed, It’s Good For You!

One of the best exercises you can do for injury prevention and general maintenance is setting up your drum kit for left handed playing and spending some time practising that way.

Doing this will definitely give you a whole new challenge in terms of coordination, and work your brain very hard, but i want to focus more on the physical benefits.

If you’ve ever seen a Physiotherapist for some sort of muscular problem, one thing they commonly look at is what is the opposite muscle doing. If a muscle is overworked, it’s opposite can often be underworked, and inactive, or tight or loose (or several other possibilities). Essentially the way we use one part of our body, affects how other parts of our body work (eg; when you hurt your right leg, you have a limp, putting more weight on your left leg).

I’d also like to make the point that just practising open handed will NOT work. It may help with coordination, but it fails to put your body in the reverse positions it is when completely flipping the kit. The only other option is to have a more symmetrical drum setup like Mike Mangini or Travis Orbin 😛

 

SOME COMMON ASYMMETRIES FROM PLAYING DRUMS:

-Your right pectoral muscles usually get short and tight because your right hand is reaching for the hi hat all the time.

Your left hand develops an ulnar deviation and in your forearm your flexors activate a lot more than your extensors due to the position of the snare drum.

-In your right forearm, your extensors are more active that your flexors due to the way you learn to play the hi hat.

-In your lower right leg your Tibialis Anterior is very active from bass drum playing, while your left foot becomes more of a stable balancer.