When it comes to drumming excellence, there can be a laundry list of changes to make in order to appease a drummer’s appetite for perfection. No matter whether playing a djembe, congas or rocking out on a drum set, the never-ending quest to master the art of the drums can reside in one simple place: the strength of the drummer’s hands.
Building strength in the hands is a natural effect of drumming. Like any physical activity, the actions will naturally increase strength in the hands, as well as the wrists, arms, shoulders and back. Trunk or core stability also increases, adding to the overall physical benefits of being a drummer. However, almost every drummer has the problem of one hand being stronger than the other, and it is this perceived weakness that can be easily overcome.
Many times, the issue of hand strength is simply due to a “rightie” favoring his or her right hand for regular activites. Through the years, this develops the muscles and coordination in that hand, while the left hand remains unused. “Lefties” may have better strength in their right hands, as they have been conforming to a “right hand” world for most of their lives, making this minority a great lesson in improving the strength of a weaker hand.
It may be easier, in fact, for a left-handed person to understand the two-handed nature of drumming. Therefore, by acting like a leftie, you are training your brain to use your left hand (or, weaker hand) more equally. Simple, everyday tasks (opening a door, drinking coffee, clicking a mouse or snapping the fingers) can be accomplished with a non-dominant hand, and those actions help the brain understand better how to use that hand, ultimately increasing its strength.
For those playing a drum set, switching up the configuration of the cymbals and drums into a position better played by someone who favors the opposite hand can increase strength, as well. This also helps with coordination and the overall “muscle memory” of the weaker hand, which will lead to more strength in the rhythm. For hand drummers, swap hands when you play your open tones and finger flicks.
A drummer can also set out to increase the strength of the hand through drumming and other exercises that specifically target the weaker hand. Drumming rudiments, for example, are the building blocks of rhythm, and can certainly be used to build up strength in the weaker hand.
No matter the technique, a drummer’s beat can only be enhanced by the additional strength in a non-dominant hand. Through various exercises, practice and dedication, your drumming can become a two-handed, show-stopping rhythm in no time!