Left Hand Technique for Drums

by Chris Brower
Start drum fills with your left hand instead of your right to improve your technique.

Start drum fills with your left hand instead of your right to improve your technique.

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Most people are right-handed, so for most drummers the left hand is the weaker of the two. Naturally, a right-handed drummer favors his right hand, so often his left is less developed in its technique and skill. This can hurt your overall playing; as your right hand can do challenging things that your left can't, it diminishes your ability to play complicated rhythms using both hands simultaneously. However, you can develop your left hand using a number of techniques and exercises.


Rudiments are drum exercises that improve your technique. In addition to being good practice material, rudiments are valuable as warm-up exercises to get you loose before playing. Practicing rudiments can also improve your left hand technique. Play rudiments starting with your left hand instead of your right; this makes you rely on your left hand more, building up its strength and agility.

Use Only Your Left Hand

Spend time every day during your practice routine playing a snare or drum set with just your left hand to improve your left hand technique; as you'll have no right hand to use, you'll rely on your left. Practice playing rhythms with just your left hand as well as moving your left hand from drum-to-drum and cymbal-to-cymbal around your drum set. At first this will seem very difficult, but with practice your skill will improve.

Open-Handed Playing

Typically, drummers play the drum set by crossing their sticks on the hi-hat and snare drum; for a right-handed setup, the hi-hat is usually to the left of the snare drum, but drummers play the hi-hat with their right hand and the snare with their left. Open-handed playing reverses this, meaning you play the hi-hat with your left hand and the snare with your right. This builds up your left hand technique by assigning it a different role in standard drum set playing by hitting the hi-hat instead of the snare drum.


You can improve your left hand technique through a variety of resistance exercises; for example, practice drumming on a soft pillow. Pillows don't have the bounce-back that drums do, so it's harder to play consistently and quickly, and forcing yourself to adapt will build your strength. You can also use a heavier stick for your left hand, or wrap stick weights around your left hand's drumstick; because the stick is heavier, it requires more strength to play it than normal, building up your muscles and skill after continual practice.

About the Author

Chris Brower is a writer with a B.A. in English. He also spent time studying journalism and utilizes both to deliver well-written content, paying close attention to audience, and knowing one word could determine whether a product is a success or a failure. He has experience writing articles, press releases, radio scripts, novels, short stories, poems and more.

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