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I got a beginner mesh drum kit for Christmas and set it up according to the picture and have been trying to learn the basics on my own. I’m very left-handed in life. I always start out with my left hand or left foot. If I tap, I tap with left foot. So I’m trying to learn the first basic thing, but my right foot on the bass drum pedal doesn’t want to cooperate much meanwhile my left foot is over there tapping away. I also am not liking tapping on the hi-hat with my right hand. It feels like trying to write with my right hand. My left hand wants to do it but the how-to folks in the YT videos are doing it with the right. I read the benefits of learning on a righty setup, but I am starting to wonder if my body would like it better if I switched things around. Thank you for advice.

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    Whether you should learn left handed or right handed is purely a matter of opinion and the opinion which matters most is yours. Feb 5, 2022 at 21:31
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    My son enjoyed fooling around on his brother's drumset at a young age (three-ish I think). Because he was left-handed, and because I had no idea how to help him, there was some confusion about which hand went where. I asked the brother's teacher to give him a short "mini-lesson." She convinced him that he could play comfortably like she did -- with what I guess was the standard approach -- despite being a leftie herself. It worked out great. Moral of the story, before you despair you could take one lesson and then consider the teacher's suggestions, see how they work out for you. Feb 5, 2022 at 23:55
  • Closely related: music.stackexchange.com/questions/67575/… Feb 6, 2022 at 0:32
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    I think a point to consider is that in rock music most of the interesting things happen on snare and right hand is just playing straight 8ths or 4ths. The traditional drum setup on the other hand is from jazz era when drummers would play complex patterns on ride cymbal. And it just happens that Ringo Starr who is left-handed was playing right-handed way in a wildly popular band just when the style change was happening.
    – ojs
    Feb 6, 2022 at 12:53
  • See it this way: Ringo Starr is left-handed and played on a right-handed kit and he did quite well in the Beatles. So go ahead
    – Campfire
    Feb 11, 2022 at 20:29

3 Answers 3

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The other answers have good points. I'm a left handed drummer who plays on a right handed kit. I've played for more than 20 years now so my 2c:

The points made in the linked guitar question are relevant, but drumming has some nuances you may not have considered.

Everything will feel like writing with your wrong hand

By far this is my most important point. Learning drums does not feel like learning other instruments.

When you begin, you can expect everything - for quite a long time - to feel like writing with your wrong hand. This is irrespective of your kit set up. You will get used to this feeling. You should be seeking out this feeling, not avoiding it, as that's the feeling of you training your brain. If you avoid this feeling, it means you won't learn.

As you've learned, hands are not truly equivalent in drums

The ideal experienced drummer is completely ambidextrous. None of us are that drummer.

You will practice training the other side of your body a lot, and you'll end up much less left-handed than you are now. However, even as an expert, the limbs on a drumkit are specialised. For example, almost no right-handed players will use their left hand on the hi-hat, even though that arguably makes more sense. As another example, on a right-handed kit, the right hand will almost always play the main beats when you play a fill. This is because it's extremely awkward to cross the left stick over the right while moving your arms clockwise between toms. Given most people are right handed, I don't think it is purely by chance that the right hand ends up playing more than the left, and striking the main beats, in most forms of music.

Do I feel I am disadvantaged for playing on a right-handed kit? Not even slightly. With learning, my right side simply learned. That said, as a learner, it might be easier to begin if the kit set up matches your dominant side.

Ignore your feet

It sounds like you would kick a ball with your left foot? Having that foot on the bass drum will make life easier. Training feet, though, is relatively easy relative to hands. There are only a few kinds of movements feet need to do and coordinating with your other limbs will come with practice.

Where are you playing?

This is a lesser concern but worth considering.

If you're teaching yourself, and you will always play with your own gear, it doesn't matter if you're a leftie or not.

If you will be learning on your drum teacher's kit, particularly in a situation where you are in classes with other students, things get awkward. You will be re-arranging the kit every time you go to play, and if you have three toms, your fills will sound...funny.

If you want to take this seriously and end up playing some gigs or similar, there may also be times you end up playing other's gear. It can be pretty frustrating to swap while you're new.

My recommendation

Make this a non-issue by learning snare drum (rudiments) first. It can be a bit ...dry... but it will give you a strong foundation and also push you closer to being ambidextrous in playing. As suggested by others, you will learn everything left and right hand leading.

This is how I learned and by the time I switched to the full kit I didn't really have a truly dominant side. I didn't even think to mention to my teacher I was left handed: I was more balance and had learned the mindset of chasing that awkward wrong-handed feeling.

In truth, now I am experienced I love playing right handed. My right hand can play strongly while my left can perform subtleties on the snare that I know would be more difficult the other way around. But really, just get started. Just play. And don't avoid feeling awkward.

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Unlike with guitar, I don't really see a reason to ponder the question of which way to learn. Just try it both ways. You don't have to buy any special instrument, just rearrange your drum set, and you don't need to worry about “practising wrong” because being able to play stuff the other way around can only ever be an advantage. Leading with the left hand can come in handy for playing more interesting fills on a right-hand drum set, and being able to play kick drum with the left is actually necessary for double-bass.

The one thing you should definitely be wary of is that doubts like this can easily destroy motivation. If you always think “this is wrong for me” it'll take away all the fun, and if you always keep rearranging your kit instead of sticking to one position for a while just to practice somehow, you also won't make as good progress. (Even just a single practice pad can be better than the most amazing 20-piece kit.)

All instruments require, more than anything else, perseverance to master them. IMO the best motivation is to play a lot with other people.

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Check out answers for my question that leftaroundabout has kindly highlighted.

In reality, one hand needs to be as good as the other, drumming-wise. Take rudiments paradiddles. They can be played 'backwards', and as such, each hand needs to be equal in control.

Playing a r.h. kit can be done playing 'open' rather than the usual cross-arms for hi-hat, and cymbals can easily be moved. It's the legs that can be the problems. Generally, the kickdrum foot/leg works harder. You could try a double-bass pedal, so the left foot plays the kick, but that then makes the hi-hat an awkward problem.

There's no real answer - it's squarely up to you. Having a couple of lessons with a good drum teacher is well worth considering - they'll have come across this problem (as I have!) and will have found different solutions. Failing that, try for a couple of months r.h., and then a couple l.h. If the l.h. is still more natural, that's your way. But don't expect to find many kits set up that way!

And - finding a pair of left-handed drumsticks could help somewhat...

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