Every drummer knows he has a 'weaker side'. For the right-handed drummer it probably is the left side, and vice versa. Canadian virtuoso Stephane Chamberland and Global Drum Ambassador Dom Famularo published a method called 'The Weaker Side,' to improve your balance and to get rid of those frustrations that many players have. The Weaker Side has 52 pages filled with exercises, a page for every week in the year. A course that anyone can easily do if you're committed to getting better on your instrument. This article features an introduction and lessons from The Weaker Side, presented by Stephane Chamberland himself. Click the links in the article to download lessons from the book.
Drummers are so dedicated to learning more about drumming every day that it's extremely rewarding to teach and share our skills. We have the opportunity to observe the common challenges that drummers encounter. With the evolution of drumming and open handed playing, we need more tools because of the new challenges with modern grooves and concepts regarding all styles of music. The most common challenge that students have asked about is developing equal balance between both their hands as well as their feet.
Equal Balance between all Limbs The Weaker Side is the first step to achieving equal balance between all limbs. Imagine how much more control you would have in your playing if your hands and feet were equal in execution! In my journey, I've had the chance to study many years with a great mentor, Dom Famularo, who was working on how to develop our weak hand and foot to liberate ourselves from the barrier of older concepts brought to us. We explored the horizon and decided to co-write a book called The Weaker Side. This is all about programming muscular strength into your weaker side for your hands and your feet. The ultimate objective is to be able to perform any idea you hear in your head. The more developed your skill, the easier it is for you to consistently express your musical ideas.
In any art form or sport, it's important to think about technique. Techniques are tools that will help you express what you feel, and good technique will prevent pain and damage to your muscles. We know a successful technique by the results we get from using it. All great drummers have one thing in common in their technique: they can play well with both hands and feet. A recurring challenge I see with my students is that one hand or one foot is weaker than the other and I believe this can be improved upon.
Strengths and Weaknesses Imagine having two right hands or two right feet. This is what we call freedom! It affects the way you play, the way you sound and also the way you set up your drums. Performing music creates new challenges. We cannot resolve a challenge without changing the thought process that created the challenge.
Let me give you a couple of exercises that will help you think differently and focus on the weak part of your technique. It is very helpful for us as musicians to know our strengths and weaknesses. When we acknowledge our weakness, it leads to action. But remember, there is no shortcut. It's all about doing a little bit every day. We must plant the seed, water it every day, and be patient as it grows. But this process will lead to constant and never-ending improvement. Consistency will guarantee your success in technique, drumming, and in life.
Daily Practice It is important to incorporate these exercises into daily practice:
The first point is to start using your weaker hand more in your life.
Try things like brushing your teeth with your weaker hand, opening doors, and writing using your weaker hand.
The second point is to do stretching exercises like the free stroke and the Moeller technique.
The third point will be to explore an open-handed style on the drum set.
That means, not crossing your arms to play your hi-hat, use your weaker hand and play open.
As you can see, this is about balance. Imagine how you would play if both your hands were equally as capable as your stronger hand! Or both of your feet were equal!! You would be able to express whatever was in your head. Freely releasing ideas around the drum set with fluidity while staying totally relaxed.
The Weaker Side in fifty-two pages The next adventure will be to check out our book 'The Weaker Side'. It has fifty-two pages and you can play one page a week. That makes one full year of working on the book. This is also thirty exercises for fifteen seconds to one-minute each. The primary goal is to work on technique, but you could also use the book many different ways to develop other skills as well. For example, use the bass drum and hi-hat pedals to play the written sticking while playing the jazz ride pattern in the triplets section.
We can easily say that The Weaker Side is a follow up to the George Lawrence Stone's book, 'Stick Control'. It's better to practice slowly at first and increase the tempo a little bit everyday. While playing the exercises, keep in mind to always watch your technique in the mirror, use a metronome and a clock, and keep track of your progress and your improvement. You may want to record yourself to analyze your work.
Work on these ideas and follow the book as planned... it is a one year exercise! This is the kind of dedication and focus that will get you to a place you can only imagine. This is where the adventure gets exciting. The harder you work, the more results you feel. Stay with it, follow a plan every day, every week, and the year will pass quickly. As you continue this journey, notice how much better you get around the kit. Most of all... have fun!