Thursday, March 13, 2014

Drill: Developing the left hand

As taiko players, it's important to have both hands be strong.  When one hand is weaker, it limits the tempo and difficulty of the patterns we can play.

Most taiko players are right handed and most patterns are right-hand oriented (don doko, don tsuku) - the left hand gets a bum deal.  The best solution is to practice a lot of patterns switched, starting on the left.  However, a lot of training can happen outside of practice time, if you really want it.

When I was doing accounting work for a company many many years ago, the 10-key calculator was in between two different computers at my workstation.  Half the time it was on my left, and half on the right.  It was too much of a pain to unplug it and move it each time to make it on the right side of the keyboards, so I dealt with it on my left side half the time.  Although it was a pain at first, I got faster and faster with my left hand and I felt the results of that "training" in my playing in those years.

So I got to thinking about what other things a person can do to work their weaker hand, outside of the studio or practice pad.  Try doing these things in the weaker hand, or switching which hand does what:

  • Using chopsticks/fork/spoon
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Turning a key in a lock
  • Using soap/shampooing
  • Using a remote control
  • Scissors (really hard to use in the left hand unless they're left-handed scissors!)
  • Washing dishes
  • Washing the car
  • Pouring a drink
  • Throwing something
The list can go on and on; I'm sure you can think of others to add.

(As for the picture above, that's a Gyro Ball.  A fun little toy that really works your grip and wrist strength.   I recommend getting one if you can; they're not too expensive, easy to use, and actually gives you a workout!)

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