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Hot Licks: Deft with the Left by Joel Rothman

Jul 13, 2020, 09:00 AM by Rhythm Scene Staff

As the title implies, the following exercise can be used to develop left-hand speed, skill, and control. Although the exercise is written for cymbal, snare drum, and bass drum, it primarily focuses on the left hand (on snare), while the bass part simply doubles the cymbal part. The left hand plays one, two, three, four, and five consecutive beats. Start slowly at first to get a feel of exactly what’s required of the left hand, but be sure to keep the same tempo throughout.

The first section of this exercise uses exclusively eighth notes, the second section utilizes eighth-note triplets, and the third section incorporates sixteenth-note rhythms. Each section should be practiced and repeated individually until comfortable, with the eventual goal of playing all three sections with a steady tempo in succession.

Enjoy the groove and the development of your left-hand technique!

Deft with the Left Notation

Joel RothmanJoel Rothman is one of the foremost writers and publishers of drum and percussion books used worldwide. He also writes humor book for children as well as adults. Although a New Yorker, he presently resides in London with his English wife, where he continues to teach, write, and publish books, including his most recent title, Just Rhythm. Visit his website at to view all of his publications or contact Joel directly at

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