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Thread: I Can't Tap My Foot

  1. #1
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    I Can't Tap My Foot

    My, oh my, how my guitar lessons have humbled me.

    I have learned thus far that


    • I don't hold the pick properly and I've been using the wrong thickness of pick
    • I don't grasp the neck properly
    • My strumming hand is too "active" and I rest the fat of my hand on the pickguard
    • I tend to avoid using my fretting pinky
    • My alternate picking sucks



  2. #2
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot (pt. 2)


    and perhaps the worst of all


    • I can't tap my foot to a basic 4/4 beat when trying to read music


    All this from a guy who's been mostly a rhythm player, and can play some pretty intricate rhythms.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm learning a lot and am really enjoying the lessons! But dang me if I can't tap my foot and play guitar at the same time when I have a sheet of music in front of me. I have added a super well-done metronome to my Apple TV, so I can have both the visual as well as audible timekeeping in front of me, but it frustrates me that the simplest piece of music is hard to play in the proper time when I'm also trying to read the music.

    It's like walking and chewing gum at the same time for me. Will practice make me better, or is there some other trick/method I can use to keep time with the music?

  3. #3
    Forum Member Doc W's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot (pt. 2)

    I have taught guitar for years and this a common problem. You might be trying to do too much (audio, visual, metronome). To get the basic feel of tapping your foot in synch with the song, it helps if you start out very slowly and, just for now, turn off the metronome. Pick a very slow song with a simple strum, maybe just a down stroke on every beat. Slow it down even more if you can (say, with the tempo control on youtube). Tap your foot to the song without any sheet music and just keep at it until it you can "feel" the beats. Always emphasize the first beat in every bar, just a little.

    When you can do that, try counting the off beats. When your foot is down, it is on the beat. When it is up, it is on the off beat (the "and") between beats, like this:

    1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

    On each "and" your foot is in the air.

    Man, this is hard to explain in a post!
    "The beauty and profundity of God is more real than any mere calculation."

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    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    I suggest you put down the guitar, take the sheet music and clap out the rhythm as you read. Once you have the rhythm tap your foot and keep the meter correct while clapping. When you can accomplish this, play the piece. It's important that you master meter. It all starts with playing in time. The wrong note at the correct time usually works better for the band than the right note at the wrong time. When you play the correct note at the correct time, you're being a musician.


    Mississippi's and potatoes help too.


    The main thing is don't get discouraged. As you're finding out, even learning to master the rudiments of reading is transforming your playing and taking you to a higher level as player, and isn't that the whole point of the exercise?


    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    Thanks, guys. You're both very helpful. Re-reading my OP, I realize that I didn't state that my issue is with reading individual notes and playing in time. Not that it makes a big difference, but strumming in time is for me a whole lot easier than picking.

    It seems I get so focused on the notes on the staff (no tab for this student!) that mentally keeping time while also identifying the proper note (string, fret, finger) is challenging. The good news is twofold: a piece I'm working on is getting sonically familiar, which makes finding and playing the notes easier, allowing me to better keep time. The second is that the MuseScore software I'm using lets me mute out voices, so I can either follow the notes in time, or I can mute out the solo guitar and play along with the other (it's a duet).


  6. #6
    Forum Member Old Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    Don't worry about it. As to drumming, I can play any tempo with exact precision. Any speed. No problem. However, I've been playing guitar since 1960 and I still cannot play fast. Think moderate speeds like B.B. or Billy Gibbons on a slow tune. That's me. Ted told me he's seldom seen a faster draw with a sixgun, but with a guitar my hands are like they're stuck in swamp mud!
    When I watch guys like Eric Johnson or Steve Vai I quit for a week or so. Won't touch a guitar. You'd think that after close to 60 years I'd gain some speed.... Nope!

    When sitting and playing, my feet are doing the drum pedals as if I'm sitting and playing my drums. But if I try to speed up the process with my feet, my hands go all stupid and won't work! I mean it goes to crap in a nanosecond! I figured ya don't play guitar with your feet anyway.
    So if tapping one's foot is an issue, keep it still and move on. One thing I've learned in all these years: No one is perfect!
    I forgot what I was going to say...

  7. #7
    Forum Member Doc W's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    Quote Originally Posted by OldStrummer View Post
    Thanks, guys. You're both very helpful. Re-reading my OP, I realize that I didn't state that my issue is with reading individual notes and playing in time. Not that it makes a big difference, but strumming in time is for me a whole lot easier than picking.


    If picking out the melody is your nemesis, then do what Offshore says, i.e., start by tapping/clapping out the rhythm with no instrument at all. I would still keep the foot in the picture (remember Lawrence Welk, "and a one and a two and a ..." but use either method just to get going

    All the beats are with the foot down, all the off beats are with the foot up. You can deal with triplets and other fancy stuff once you get the basic 4/4 with quarters and eighths.
    "The beauty and profundity of God is more real than any mere calculation."

  8. #8
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  9. #9
    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    There’s no proper rule about:

    holding picks: hold them however YOUR HAND feels good and does the job well. I’ve seen enough artists hold picks “wrong”, live and on videos, including Jerry Garcia.

    Pick size/thickness: see comment above

    grasping the neck: ok, this might be trickier, but the rule applies. Just take your time and see the stuff you have difficulties with, then try to study the best grip for it. Remember:you don’t hold the neck in a fixed position. Bar chords and bends, for instance, require different holds.

    strumming is also very variable. There are many patterns.

  10. #10
    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    Using your fretting hand’s pinky: it’s hard, especially for bends, but it’s the best way. I do it instinctively because I was trained in crlassical guitar. I just put each of the 4 fingers on the corresponding fret and play the music. It’s just a matter of training.

    alternate picking: you should definitely learn it, as you can’t play certain things without it. But there’s no need to get anal about doing everything alternate, as teachers will often tell you to. Most artists don’t. They’ll use repeated downstrokes either because it helps stressing notes, or simply because it’s more comfortable in some licks.

    tapping your feet? Just practice. Or play with a drummer and follow him! I learned how to keep the pace that way.

    :)

  11. #11
    Forum Member Laker's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    Quote Originally Posted by OldStrummer View Post
    My, oh my, how my guitar lessons have humbled me.

    I have learned thus far that


    • I don't hold the pick properly and I've been using the wrong thickness of pick
    • I don't grasp the neck properly
    • My strumming hand is too "active" and I rest the fat of my hand on the pickguard
    • I tend to avoid using my fretting pinky
    • My alternate picking sucks


    Can you imagine where BB, Freddie, and Albert would have been today if they listened to some guitar teacher tell them what they were doing wrong?? Blues music would maybe sound like a Lawrence Welk production.


  12. #12
    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    Quote Originally Posted by Laker View Post
    Can you imagine where BB, Freddie, and Albert would have been today if they listened to some guitar teacher tell them what they were doing wrong?? Blues music would maybe sound like a Lawrence Welk production.


    ‘xactly

  13. #13
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    So, to be fair and honest, my "complaints" above aren't exactly complaints. For 50 years I've done pretty well for myself. Taking lessons is like Tiger Woods having a golf coach (he does). Not that I play guitar as well as Tiger plays golf. The point is that being self-taught and now being in a structured learning environment are worlds apart.

    Some of my issues are "performance anxiety;" I want to play well for my teacher. Just recently, I've improved in all areas of my "structured" playing environment. Just last night, my tutor and I played the duet I've been practicing, and I held my own pretty well, I thought. He agreed. Not perfect, but way better than it was just before Christmas!

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    Acquiring a bass guitar (two, actually ) has helped immensely, also. I'll get argument on this thought, but to me, the bass plays a more important part in the rhythm section that does the rhythm guitar. If just thumping the root note in time with the bass drum, the bass guitar "anchors" the rhythm, and just noodling with the bass has helped me get a better sense of rhythm.

    My teacher is a Pat Martino school of jazz player, so he has strong beliefs in the hows and whys of guitar and music theory. My goal is not to become my teacher, but to continue to develop as an individual and unique guitar/bass player.

  15. #15
    Forum Member DanTheBluesMan's Avatar
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    Re: I Can't Tap My Foot

    I totally agree that bass helped make me a better guitar player.

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