4 Months Since Switching to Open Handed Playing.

bigbonzo

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I stand corrected.

But, still an interesting article.

I've got the matched grip thing down really well, after playing traditional grip for many years.

However, I am still having difficulty getting the open-handed thing though.
 
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dcrigger

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One of the reasons Steve Smith (along with Steve Gadd and Vinnie Colaiuta) has switched to matched grip is the problems he's encountered playing traditional grip:

There's been a noticeable switch to matched grip in the last few years from some longtime practitioners of traditional grip, including Steve Gadd (a few years ago he was seen playing matched grip at a recording session at Skyline Studios in New York City). This doesn't surprise Weckl, who admits that he, Steve Smith and Vinnie Colaiuta are all experiencing hand problems stemming from using traditional grip. In a surprising move, jazz drummer's jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette has changed to matched grip, according to Weckl. This in addition to Teutonic powerhouse Thomas Lang's recent switch to matched grip. Dave remarks, "We're all experiencing hand problems from playing traditional. There is a definite thing with this grip, beating the water out of your thumb for 40, 50 years. Repetitive stress is going to take its toll, and it's definitely taken its toll on me-I've got bone spurs, arthritis, all kinds of crap going on in my left hand. The funny thing is I generally don't feel it when I play. I feel it at times, but it just takes me a minute to get back into playing consistently and in position where the fatty/muscle part between the thumb and first finger cradle the stick more, and then I don't feel it so much. I don't know if Steve (Gadd) actually has any trauma to his hand or not. The only thing that he did tell me person-to-person was that playing matched grip is just easier. And Thomas Lang is switching to mostly matched now, for the same reason. He said it's just so much maintenance and he's also got his own injury issues."
I hadn't been keeping up on this - but it doesn't surprise me one bit.
We are simply playing a lot louder than 40-50 years ago... a lot louder.
And "pulling" that stick with the left thumb at those volumes is pretty nuts. Can you imagine trying to drive nails holding a hammer with that grip, yet that is what it pretty much amounts to at today's volumes.
 

dcrigger

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It seems that being totally disagreed with is becoming my stock in trade, having no closed season or bag limit on sacred cows. I hear what you are saying. Most people have very weak left hands, physically and intellectually. For various reasons I recognized this years back and spent a considerable amount of time bringing mine up to speed, brushing my teeth, writing with it, throwing the ball with my son, just connecting those synapses to make it a force to be recon with on its own, so applying it to my drumming became a natural next step. Even then, trying to switch to open handed playing is a significant challenge.

So maybe it is not for everyone. Still, I think to play ride leads with either hand and have backbeat pattern options on an open kit is superior to having one hand locked down under the other. Both of my children play drums a little with me and I am steering them in the open handed direction so if it pans out I will be able to report back on how grossly negligent this unproven experiment actually is.

I think that Steve Smith is a good example of where I'm coming from. Obviously a top tier drummer who was trained in the traditional approach to drumming by others who were trained in the traditional approach to drumming. Then something happened with Smith, you could just see it in the way he started to dress, his mannerism and speech, his musical interests...his drumming. Some doors of perception were definitely opened for this guy. And what do we see from him when the shackles of conventionality are shrugged off? Open handed playing. Break on through to the other side, break on through to the other side, break on through, break on through, break, break, break , break ,break.

Sorry - I don't see what that video has to do with open handed drumming???

If you're taking what I'm saying in doubting open-handiness as some brave new world to mean not to develop one's weak hand - not to work towards playing things exactly like this solo - then you are misunderstanding me.
I'm saying there's no reason - particularly from day one - to learn to play a basic rock beat with one's weak hand on the ride. Or go through the Chapin book with one's weak hand on the ride. It purposely making things more difficult from the get go for no advantage other than not crossing over to play the hat. And for 99.9% of the history of playing - that just hasn't been much of a handicap.

Life is to short. IMO the initial flame of desire for playing is too precious and too fragile - to PURPOSELY make things more difficult in some belief that it will be worth it later on. If it's worth later - then like you are - do it later on.

It pains me to hear you describe the path that countless drummers over the decades have followed to successfully become Steve Smith, Vinnie Coliauta, Dave Weckl. Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Tony Williams, and on and on as a sacred cow... to be tossed out (and whether you realize it or not - throwing out the concept of dominant hand lead is a HUGE deal) on an unproven theory.
 

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Sorry - I don't see what that video has to do with open handed drumming???

If you're taking what I'm saying in doubting open-handiness as some brave new world to mean not to develop one's weak hand - not to work towards playing things exactly like this solo - then you are misunderstanding me.
I'm saying there's no reason - particularly from day one - to learn to play a basic rock beat with one's weak hand on the ride. Or go through the Chapin book with one's weak hand on the ride. It purposely making things more difficult from the get go for no advantage other than not crossing over to play the hat. And for 99.9% of the history of playing - that just hasn't been much of a handicap.

Life is to short. IMO the initial flame of desire for playing is too precious and too fragile - to PURPOSELY make things more difficult in some belief that it will be worth it later on. If it's worth later - then like you are - do it later on.

It pains me to hear you describe the path that countless drummers over the decades have followed to successfully become Steve Smith, Vinnie Coliauta, Dave Weckl. Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Tony Williams, and on and on as a sacred cow... to be tossed out (and whether you realize it or not - throwing out the concept of dominant hand lead is a HUGE deal) on an unproven theory.

dcrigger, what that video has to do with open handed drumming is that you are watching Steve Smith, a world class drummer, who came up in the most traditional training, play a solo completely open handed, albeit with traditional grip. He did not cross over once and played his leads with either hand with equal competence. That is significant. Smith is saying that on his Quixotian quest to advance his drumming to the next level he has spent a tremendous amount of time and effort to shatter the mold and learn this new skill. He recognized it as having value.

The only reason that the drummers that you named have followed the cross over path that you herald is that they were taught and influenced by guys who were taught and influenced by guys who played this way. That does not necessarily make it the best way to approach the kit. That is follow the leader.

If you want dominant hand lead, well you can still have it for the entire right side of your kit, just switch hands when you go to the left.
 

gbow

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In my opinion, learning to do things open handed, also makes you a better cross over player. And playing with traditional grip and matched also helps you. To me, the more different things you can learn to do with your hands, the better you'll be.

A good friend of mine and fellow drummer, used to set up our kits left handed. Hihats on the right, left foot on the kick, etc. and play. Yea, it was a disaster at first, but with some patients it helped our overall drumming. It's not for the faint of heart and not for someone learning who might get discouraged. But if you're a life long player and want to challenge yourself, give it a try.

Good for you Nacci for giving it a go. Keep at it and you'll see benefits.

gabo
 

Olderschool

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I hadn't been keeping up on this - but it doesn't surprise me one bit.
We are simply playing a lot louder than 40-50 years ago... a lot louder.
And "pulling" that stick with the left thumb at those volumes is pretty nuts. Can you imagine trying to drive nails holding a hammer with that grip, yet that is what it pretty much amounts to at today's volumes.
Really? That's surprising to me given the studio technology, mics and amplification systems we have today. I would have thought it was completely reversed.....50 years ago people had to pound to be heard. Both live and studio. Not disagreeing.....just surprised.
 

dcrigger

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dcrigger, what that video has to do with open handed drumming is that you are watching Steve Smith, a world class drummer, who came up in the most traditional training, play a solo completely open handed, albeit with traditional grip. He did not cross over once and played his leads with either hand with equal competence. That is significant. Smith is saying that on his Quixotian quest to advance his drumming to the next level he has spent a tremendous amount of time and effort to shatter the mold and learn this new skill. He recognized it as having value.

The only reason that the drummers that you named have followed the cross over path that you herald is that they were taught and influenced by guys who were taught and influenced by guys who played this way. That does not necessarily make it the best way to approach the kit. That is follow the leader.

If you want dominant hand lead, well you can still have it for the entire right side of your kit, just switch hands when you go to the left.
That's all well and good - but again, I never said "Don't develop one's weak hand". And never said this has no value. But....
What I did say is that the path to get there is the PATH HE TOOK - and the path you're taking. Which doesn't mean starting that way.
He didn't. You didn't. It is a huge leap of logic to pressure that even though you developed this later, and Steve Smith develop after already becoming what most would agree - a master drummer.

What in any of this story suggests that starting a player this way would work? Or even be a remotely good idea?

Heck, I found that getting deep into odd meters helped my playing overall. Maybe we should lay into that right from the get go.
But we don't do that - and we shouldn't. Because it doesn't work.

Again - I think it's great you are exploring this. Every drummer should explore this at some point. I did. And still work on it.

But introduce it to beginners? IMO absolutely not. There are too many other things to work on first - that have been proven through the tests of time to be successful. Inflicting teaching a young student to play the jazz or rock ride/hi hat patterns with their weak hand, when a player as great as Steve Smith can only "sort of" do it makes no sense to me.

Again - to what end??? To not cross-over??? Why? And what of the ride cymbal? Move it to left? Learn to play both ways.... from the beginning? Sorry, I won't do that to a student.

It took me countless hours as a kid to develop a workable ride pattern... my first teacher suggested that, even when watching tv, grab a stick and play... ding-ding-a-ding... hours and hours, muscle memory. So split that time in half... half on one side, half on the other. Leading to what? A few years later... a having HALF of a decent ride feel that I can play with either hand???? Again why?
I'm all for pedagogy moving forward... but baby steps... Think about - a 100 or more new drum instruction books are published each year... and how many in the past 50 years have stuck... become a part of the standard method. A dozen? Maybe a few more... or less.
Anyway - that's all i'm talking about... is the teaching aspect to this.
 

dcrigger

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Really? That's surprising to me given the studio technology, mics and amplification systems we have today. I would have thought it was completely reversed.....50 years ago people had to pound to be heard. Both live and studio. Not disagreeing.....just surprised.
I know, weird. But... the Beatles complained about not hearing themselves over a screaming arena crowd... wouldn't be the case today,

Check out any video of Bonham - or Ginger or Mitch - playing back in the day. And then compare that to how hard virtually any modern pop/rock player hits. Heck I'll play that loud on wedding gigs.

My fav example though is check out Buddy playing with his band... then watch the Gadd/Vinnie/weckl clip of them playing the same charts. Notice that no matter how many accents Buddy is playing on the snare and bass drum, we can still hear the ride cymbal. Yet the modern guys as they start playing set-ups and accents... the ride cymbal just gets lost.

Not surprising - since pretty much everything is louder... we have louder home stereos, louder amps and PA's, louder TV's, it's all just louder... :)
 

Mongrel

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Regarding students....

Why can't we make the call whether to explore open handed playing on a case by case basis? As a teacher surely you can look for certain aptitudes and attitudes that will signal whether a student would be a good prospect to explore an open handed approach....or not?

If you would have seen me at 14 I would have sat down at your kit and started banging out a beat using my left hand on the hats and my right hand on the snare. No one was there to tell me it was right or wrong. That is just how it felt right to me....

Would you have made me cross over to use my dominant hand on the hats?

However, my dominant hand IS my right hand so when the hat pattern required more intricate playing....I started to cross over. I HAD to cross over because my left hand was (IS) crap in comparison to my right...

To me....the 800 pound gorilla in MY drum room isn't open vs cross.
It is NOT developing my left hand equally with my right.

To me that is the most important aspect of playing-equal dexterity. Now if a beginner happens to show some natural ambidexterity? Only then would I pursue introducing them to an open handed concept. At least early on.

Just an old dog's observations.
 

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