Playing Quirks

posted on #1
mpointon Supporter
Posts: 518
Joined: Feb 27, 2015
I was listening to WhiteDrum55's splendid funk add from the other day and its syncopated hi-hat work (which DFD also does brilliantly) reminded me of techniques that should be simple that I find difficult due to being left-handed. Whilst being left-handed shouldn't make a difference, it makes a big difference when you're left-handed but play a kit completely right-handed. If you were to watch me play, you'd think I was a right-handed player but I'm not. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to being 'the wrong way round'.

Advantages include the fact my kick drum (right foot) and leading hand (right hand) have been forced to keep up with my naturally good left half because they do the majority of the work in a right-handed setup. As a result, I'm more 'ambidextrous' on a kit than a right-handed player. Cymbal crashes are a good example - I hit with the most convenient hand rather than the right - many drummers are ingrained with finishing fills on the right hand because that's the downbeat. Also it's the reason things like snare ghost notes are easy to me - my left hand didn't need much persuading to it.

Disadvantages include the above struggle with hi-hat syncopations but, most annoyingly, is ultimate tempo. Where a right-handed player could happily do, say, a 100bpm 16th note groove one-handed on the hi-hat, I just cannot. 90bpm is about my limit. My hi-hat hand just cannot stay fluid at high subdivisions, hence the reason I avoid them. Learning to 'lead with the right' was a steep learning curve for me. It's now natural and doing it with the left seems alien - I can't even play open-handed, leading with my left! A simple two-handed 16th note groove is less easy and accurate for me as the right hand has to come across to play the backbeat on the snare. I find being accurate and consistent with such a beat hard, even after all these years of playing.

Anyone else play instruments 'differently'? Are you a left-handed guitarist playing right-handed, for example (I'm no guitarist but what guitar I can play I also do right-handed)? What did you find harder/easier when learning? What seemingly simple things do you find challenging?
posted on #2
FrankieJ Supporter
Posts: 203
Joined: Jul 16, 2015
That is amazing to me. In all my years I recall only one other drummer that was left handed
but played right handed.
I've tried playing a lefty guitar and that was a disaster.

The only thing I think I might do differently than many guitarists is how I use the plectrum.
I hold the pick between the thumb, index and middle finger.
I did not always do it that way. For my first 10 years or so of playing I held the pick between
thumb and index finger only.

The change was the result of too much bourbon and a disagreement with my bassist at a gig in the late 70's.
He punched me and I punched him back and broke my hand.
I played for two months after that with a cast which required I hold the pick with 3 fingers.
I never could adjust to using only two fingers again.
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posted on #3
titi Supporter
Posts: 79
Joined: May 11, 2015
If you look at a harmonica player, they all play the instrument with the left hand, and do wha wha effects with the right hand.
I am right-handed, and never did the idea of ​​holding my harmonica with my left hand to act like the big ones in my idea.
The bass is on the left and the treble on the right. I am well like that and am one of the few harmonicist not to follow the rules enacted.
Formerly when I was a child, the little ones who wrote with the left hand were systematically retaken and corrected to be right-handed.
Our educational system of the time was led by assholes who did not let the children flourish freely ...
I am right-handed but am a left-handed harmonicist because I hold it right ... lol

I think some guitarists were playing with high-pitched strings at the top and bass strings at the bottom ...
The important thing is to create; the rest is nothing...
posted on #4
Posts: 284
Joined: Apr 8, 2014
I was born a lefty.... but was the tail end of a generation where it was ok to “ beat it out of them”.....the only thing I now do left handed is bat and ball games.... I bat left handed but bowl right handed. The benefits of this are....I never have to play golf, cos all! My mates who play are right handed and have right handed clubs.;)
Hmmm maybe I would play guitar better if I tried left handed!?
posted on #5
Posts: 57
Joined: Jul 24, 2014
What a fascinating discussion! I'm a left handed drummer, and fully self taught as my drum teacher tried to force me to play right handed - why I will never know. I had one or two lessons and packed it up, only to start again a few years later and do it in the way that was natural to me. However I play guitar right handed! I think that's because my left hand is slightly more supple due to writing left handed and all the finger control I've learned and practiced over the years, so I can form chords easier, and striking the snare with my right hand makes for a good strumming arm. Makes sense to me! Oddly though, I play all racket sports left handed, but bat in cricket right handed...Ringo Starr is left handed but plays right handed and Steve Upton (from Wishbone Ash) is left handed who plays with the open handed technique.

To be honest, as long as you play what is natural to you and play with correct technique generally speaking and where possible, which I did by reading dozens of books, watching dvds, chatting to other players and getting hints and tips etc, I think that is the main thing.

All these little quirks make us all individual and different! That's the beauty of music and musicians! :)
posted on #6
mpointon Supporter
Posts: 518
Joined: Feb 27, 2015
Funnily enough, I play right-handed because my first teacher didn't want to swap his kit round, amongst other more valid reasons.

In truth - and in hindsight - I can't thank him enough for helping me work through the barriers such a layout used to present. As I mentioned above, forcing my right arm/leg to 'get good' meant my weaker side was trained much earlier on to keep up, equalising my limb usage. Many right-handed drummers struggle or don't fully learn to make use of their weaker left side whereas I had to battle with starting and ending on my right arm from the outset! All rudiments, fills, etc., had to lead with the right. Because it's such a fundamental part of learning to drum, I caught up relatively quickly. It wasn't easy but, in my opinion, was worth the initial investment of time and effort!

Many mainstream instruments are inherently 'handist' and, often, more expensive. Left-handed guitars, left-handed double pedals, etc., cost a lot more. Most importantly, I could attend jam nights and the like without forcing the kit to be swapped round, which is a bonus when you attended as many jam nights as I did!

It also made shared kits for gigs a lot easier!

I keep meaning to get down and learn open-handed playing. Watching the amazing freedom of movement round the kit shown by open handed players such as Simon Phillips or Carter Beauford makes me really want to knuckle down and get on with it. But I've been playing for 30 years and going back to such basics has proved daunting!

I've also got Stanton Moore's Groove Alchemy book to work through which is going to be distracting!
posted on #7
Posts: 57
Joined: Jul 24, 2014
mpointon - Very interesting reading! Yes, I used to avoid jam nights (feeling like a freaky lefty..) And doing gigs alongside other bands on the back of trucks where everyone can see you swap the kits over made me feel like I was some kind of a circus act...Of course its not so, but half the time the crowd don't notice anyway!

I read an article on Simon Phillips, he apparently locked himself away for 6 months and forced himself to play left handed (to open up weaknesses / creativity)

The best book I found was Gary Chesters New Breed which is invaluable for opening the weaker side and open handed playing, and also 4 way co-ordination, by Dahlgren / Fine.

I can't honestly see the difference between playing right handed or left handed, apart from lazy teachers! and having to reverse sticking patterns when reading books, but Phil Collins? Ian Paice? Huub Jansen? Frank Bellucci (time check solo on youtube!!! WOW!!!!!)

Yes, Stanton Moore! Absolutely brilliant!!

Any lefties reading....dont be put off!!!!!

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