Lesson: Left Hand Finger Technique

Left Hand Focus at Different Speeds

I find that most drummers do not hold the stick with proper leverage, which is essential for a good rebound stroke. Some drummers hold the stick to far to the end and others to close to the middle of the stick. Neither way offers proper leverage for a good rebound. There is sweet spot on the stick that gives a drummer the best possible rebound. The Billy Gladstone style of playing has a lot to do with letting the stick do half of the work by getting the best possible rebound. If you hold the stick loosely in the fulcrum and just bounce the stick with the right hand you should find the best leverage. If you hold the stick to far to the end you can see how the stick dies after a few rebounds. A lot of drummers move their wrist when trying to use finger technique using traditional grip. This limits the stick’s movement to the speed of the wrist. The finger muscles are smaller and can move faster than the wrist muscles and if trained properly will offer greater speed and control.

If you find it very difficult to move the fingers alone, try the following. Hold the wrist with the right hand and practice just moving the fingers over the stick for 15 to 20 minutes a day. You will develop an ability to move the fingers independently with out wrist movement. You will start to manipulate the rebound of the stick using just your fingers with practice and time. A straight well balanced stick is very important when developing this technique. I always use Pro-Mark 5A Drumsticks with Nylon Tips, which through the years I have found to be perfectly balanced, and everytime I buy new ProMark sticks I am very satisfied.

Using both a metronome and a drumometer together will enhance your finger technique. I recommend keeping a log for each. The metronome helps keep the time and the drumometer records the speed. Practicing the finger technique with the left hand using this method will result in an increase in speed while finger control is maintained or improved.

For example, if you play left hand eighth note triplets at 160 with the metronome, the drumometer would read out 480 after one minute. If you maintain good finger control and can increase your metronome speed, the drumometer speed will show the speed increase.

The first three videos are one exercise at a relaxed pace, allowing the sticks do half of the work. We broke it down to 3 videos so it will be easier to download. Each video increases in speed by 3 beats on the metronome. I am not playing any substitutions with the right hand. When the right hand hits the drum I am going into a sixteenth note triplet or half a triplet. The left hand is playing without missing a stroke. There is no gimmick or trick to this, just practice.

Practicing without stopping, relaxed and not at top speed for long periods of time will strengthen the finger muscles. The goal is to have the strength to play faster when the music requires it. If you can do 160 playing triplets for a minute, then practice 150 for 15 or 20 min. In time you will find that you will be able to play more than 160 for a minute.

I prefer to practice with a tap button on the metronome. Your relaxed speed for 15 or 20 minutes will normally differ on a daily basis. Don’t strain or create a lot of tension, just start your endurance exercises where you are that day and work with it. If you feel a strain or a lot of tension then stop for a while, regroup, lower your speed and continue. The short term practice will eventually increase the long term goal of increased control and speed. Finger technique has a lot to do with controlling muliple strokes such as double stroke rolls, paradiddles and all the rudiments. These will be included in my technique video, soon to follow.

Single Strokes Both Hands

Watch Art Play Single Strokes Both Hands

In this video, I am not playing at top speed at all. I am playing very relaxed and working with the rebound of the sticks. This is an example of playing a single stroke roll using the Billy Gladstone method and letting the stick do half the work.

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