Stupid old me decided to play basketball with a friend. After jamming my pinky finger I can't practice or song-write etc.

I am studying Jazz Theory heavily out of Mark Levine's book, working on sight singing out of Sol Berkowitz's book and working on my right foot comping out of The Art of Bop Drumming.

What's the most effective practice while dealing with injured (LEFT) hand? I'm right-handed.

I play drums, guitar, piano... and sort of bass and singing.

4 Answers 4


Playing guitar and piano fully is going to be more than a challenge - and may exacerbate the injury. However - there's a lot of r.h. playing to be done, on piano especially, and tuning the guitar to a chord (say E) and learning some finger picking patterns.

Can't see why song-writing is out, singing shouldn't be affected, and drumming with three appendages shouldn't be a problem - ask Def Leppard's drummer. There's lots of drumming practice that can still happen, in fact, possibly still using l.h. as left fingers aren't always needed. And you can still read the Levine book!

If you're asking about rehab., that's a different question, and obviously can't even start till pinky is almost back to normal again. I sympathise with you, having had to do gigs on guitar with a broken shoulder, but life goes on (hopefully...).


I'm going to assume you have your pinkie taped to the next finger (this is the most common way to look after it) so you should have no problem with:

  • song writing
  • playing guitar (you don't need to use all fingers on your left hand)
  • drums (barring some techniques where you would use the little finger)
  • bass (unless you really use all fingers)

Never hurts to give your ear a workout. Transcribe stuff. Listen to things that are interesting but hard to tell what's what, and try and figure it out. Can also put more time into the sight-singing.

There's always the Chopin Piano Etude #1 (LOL). Probably can still do some simple walking bass piano with limited left, and work on right-hand comping from Levine. Modal and bebop melodic patterns are another option.

Interesting book by Joshua Waitzkin: "The Art of Learning" where he describes using visualization when he messed up his left arm while training for a martial arts tournament. Even though it was in a cast for a couple months, because he visualized exercises that included it, when it came out of the cast there was surprisingly little atrophy. So, maybe you can do some visualization practice work using the LH.

  • Interesting last para. Wonder if there was actually any muscle work, or whether it was all in the mind.
    – Tim
    Mar 11, 2017 at 17:54
  • It's been years since I read the book. Waitzkin was a very strong chess player (prodigy) before taking up Tai Chi as a competitive sport. He's the kid in the film "In Search of Bobby Fischer". So he had to have a lot of mental discipline to draw from. The arm definitely was in a cast for a long period. What can one do besides clenching? He described visualizing fairly elaborate routines. I also knew a piano whiz who could read a score like a book and then practice in his head. He could memorize pieces this way. IQ 180's. But maybe the rest of us can benefit also from doing this. Mar 12, 2017 at 2:45

I'm not going to touch on stuff covered by the other answers, so this would probably be just an extention to those.

Apart from concentrating on the instruments you can already play, it is a great idea in time of difficulty due to restrictions caused by accident as in your situation, to learn some odd new instrument that does not involve the damaged body part. It will keep you busy and distract your mind.

In the mean time, you can also try new technics on the instruments you know to adapt to your restrictions if learning a new instrument is a no-no

  • 1
    Trumpet is one - only three valves to press down - all with right hand fingers!
    – Tim
    Mar 12, 2017 at 10:32
  • I should buy a trumpet Mar 15, 2017 at 1:41

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