tapping your foot!!!!!!!

tapping your foot!!!!!!!

I am trying desperately to tap my foot while playing, with little success. I sometimes struggle to keep my speed constant in a tune, which my tutor says is because i don’t tap my foot. Having tried and tried i find i lose my concentration when trying to play and tap my foot at the same time.
Is tapping your foot the only way to keep your timing?
Is it vital that i learn to do this? Or is there an easier way?
Advice most appreciated.

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

If you sang a simple song like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ could you tap your foot to it? If you can then you will be able to tap your foot to anything…in time! (by that I mean in the course of time)
You presumably just need to slow down, sing the tune whilst tapping your foot and then transfer it to your instrument.

Twiz

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Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

I used have trouble with it, too and discovered with some observation by my teacher that I was trying to overlay the foot tap onto a bowing style that had nothing to do with what my foot was trying to do . I had learned the the tunes without tapping my foot and had developed a bowing situation that was largely unrhythmic. Try slowing down a tune you think you have cold and tap your foot twice per measure, i.e. once for every four 1/8th notes in a reel or every three in a jig, and adjust your bowing to the rhythm. Good Luck!

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Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

This probably doesn’t help you much, but the only way to learn to tap your foot is to tap your foot. :-|

Try https://thesession.org/discussions/123, maybe something there will help out…

Zina

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Tapping the foot is not the only way to keep tempo. I think the only way is to practice keeping tempo to something else: another player or a metronome. Metronome is best, because it’s ruthless and stupid. :-) Tapping the foot actually doesn’t help much, because you’re still keeping tempo to yourself. If your foot tapping is not regular…

But back to foot tapping: maybe you’re doing too much movement and that’s throwing off your bowing? Try "tapping" just the big toe of one of your feet, inside your shoe.

But practicing to the metronome should help you. Practice *slow*, slower than session speed.

g

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

I’ll take a metronome over a toe anyday. I have a recording of a PEI fiddler playing in time quite nicely, and in the background, his toe is everywhere but on the beat!

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Musicians who come into trad from a classical background come from a background where foot-tapping is officially frowned on. Having said that, some classical musicians in an orchestra might occasionaly be seen to quietly tap their feet during rehearsal (when one hopes their tapping is in exact sync with the conductor) if it helps them to find a way through a passage with a particularly difficult rhythm. But doing it during a performance is rare, although I once saw an anxious conductor loudly tap (or rather stamp!) his foot in an abortive effort to get a wayward solo pianist back on track during a performance of a Chopin concerto.

In trad, of course, foot tapping is integral with the music itself, and if you see someone like Martin Hayes in full flight on stage you realise it can be a minor art form in its own right.

m

Re: putting your metronomes on pedestal taps…

well,scotty, i will take a tapping foot over that devil’s metronome anyday,so there.
i don’t care if it’s not in time down to to the last nano-second or whatever they’re called these days. if you want to play with a metronome in public,then fine,practise with one all the time.
but not many people practise how to breathe with a metronome,i’ve noticed.
and before we get back onto the metronome thread all over again - fine,if you think it works for you etc,etc - but i would treat them with caution as i think that playing with a metronome helps you keep time with….a metronome.try and play with other people and use your lugs.
re foot tapping and that breed of people who call themselves conductors:i’ve noticed some conductors tapping their foot on the rostrum; strangely,the foot tapping was out of sync with the arm-waving.maybe they should have practised with a metronome,arf arf.
my own experience,from a classical background, was that it took me a long time to start tapping (in orchestras it is frowned upon,as macsheoinin says) and i don’t do it all the time but it just started off its own bat one day and felt natural.
just remember that total symmetry = death in the natural world,
ooh er,missus
i remeber once seeing Liz Doherty play and boy,did she tap her foot - and it enhanced what was already a great sound and rythm

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Hey, Celtic! How’ya doin’?
Ask around here and you shall receive!

On the topic of foot tapping, I never forced myself to do it. At the beginning, I couldn’t tap my foot and play, too. So I had to just listen to the leader of the session or a bodhran player who had a steady rhythm. At home I’d play into a tape recorder when I felt my rhythm might be off—mainly speeding up as I played—or played along with a CD. Without thinking about it, one year I found myself tapping my foot while playing at the same time in a session, and , it’s been going ever since.

I just didn’t think about it or try to make it happen, and, voila! It did!

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I wholeheartedly agree with Bigdave. The only use I can see for a metronome is to establish an initial tempo for the player when practising, and then switch the damn thing off. Music is too fluid and part of nature to be constrained by the rigidity of mere mechanical devices.
Why is a metronome necessary anyway? If you want to establish a tempo just use a watch with a seconds hand or display and count the number of beats you need for a minute. Most of quick ITM is around 120 beats per minute, but, in the right hands, fast music can often be played slower and paradoxically sound quicker. Speed isn’t just a matter of so many beats per minute; it depends on how you play the music. A good player can make 90 sound like 140 whereas someone less skilled can attempt to play at 120, perhaps playing all the notes correctly, but still make it sound an unholy mess. The principle applies right across all types of music, as I expect Bigdave will agree.

m

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Celtic1234 says,"I sometimes struggle to keep my speed constant in a tune…", and is requesting helpful advice. Through the ages, musicians of all abilities, including the great ones, have resorted to the metronome, and the artform hasn’t suffered for it. Celtic1234, the metronome is a helpful aid to strengthen your timing. It will not transmogrify you into an automaton. The metronome is part of the tradition of this music, and you will benefit from practising with it.

Funny that macsheoinin mentioned Martin Hayes earlier in this thread. He will be at a gathering in the Toronto area next weekend, and I will ask him for his views on using the metronome, and report back to all of you. I’ll bet a dollar to a donut that he has put in thousands of hours with one.

I have no objection to tapping the toe during performance, I do it myself. I wouldn’t consider performing with a metronome, either.
It has been my experience that those who eschew the metronome are precisely those who would get the most benefit from practice with one. I agree with bigdave that the rhythm in most sessions is not nearly as steady as a metronome. The session certainly benefit if the timing were stronger. That is one reason why the "big boys" prefer private sessions, where the better players keep better time.

For an example of what great timing can do for a tune, check out the interplay between the fiddle and the piano on Winston Fitzgerald’s recording of Sleepy Maggie. The piano seems to be lifting the fiddle, and all the power seems to be emanating from the fiddle. It is an illusion of the ear, that was made possible by extremely precise timing between the fiddle and piano. That recording was so powerful, that 50 years after it was made, it is still considered the ultimate rendition of the tune among Cape Breton style fiddlers. Ashley MacIsaac was able to build a career based on his version of the tune, but he still didn’t eclipse Winston Fitzgerald.

In essence, this music is dance music, and the key is a steady rhythm with a clear beat. Do whatever is necessary to get that rhythm.

Best of luck
Scott

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Linda is right.
Don’t try to force it. It’ll just come out sometime. Sooner than later.

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

A freaind of mine who is not familliar with diddley music came to a session the other day and one of the things he couldn’t stop taking about was the huge range of foot tapping. Apparently, we all tap in wildly different ways, some 8 in the bar some 1 per par, combinations of heel and toe etc etc, some not at all.
I think the point I’m making as that it’s not important. If your teacher is trying to make you tap your foot, then all they are doing is giving you an extra thing to think about that will put you off you playing.
What you should be saying instead of "I’m desperatly trying to tap my foot while I’m playing," is, "I’m trying to play in time". All of the above answers are good ones, (the discussion about whether to use a metrenome etc). But remember that the "gaol" is to play in time, not tap you foot. Foot tapping is incidantal

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Whoa. Here we go again with the metronome thing. Celtic, if your teacher is telling you that you need to tap your foot in order to maintain a steady beat, well then, that’s what you should do. Usually, what that translates out to is that you do not as of yet play with a steady, integral pulse and beat (which are two different things, by the way), and your teacher is hoping that by asking you to tap your foot you will begin to internalize that regular beat and steadiness which is the hallmark of so many great players.

Learning to tap your foot will indeed usually help you to internalize that beat, at least for a great many players (myself included). For some people, using a metronome is a very good aid to helping "hear" the steady beat with your inner ear and body, while for others, the metronome is of no use whatsoever. Whichever; the metronome is simply a tool, it’s not a religion or anathema. If it works for you, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t use it. Whatever you do, you’ll likely end up not using a metronome much once that steady beat is inside you, and of course no one uses one in performance or at a session (unless one is playing for stepdancers, who often require exact time, so feis musicians often use a flashing digital one to keep them exactly to 72 or whatever the time the dancer requests).

One point that was brought up the last time we had one of the Great Metronome Arguments is that the metronome can only help you with the beat — it won’t help you with the pulse of the music. Brad in particular came up with an extremely salient and excellent point on that subject in the last thread (near the end), but you’ll have to search "metronome" to find it; I’m on an extremely slow computer right now in Lincoln Nebraska, as I’ve been teaching Irish stepdancing workshops for my school — home tonight!

Good luck, and let us know how the foot tapping goes!

Zina

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Using a metronome will indeed usually help internalize that beat, at least for a great many players (myself included). For some people, foot tapping is a very good aid to helping "hear" the steady beat with your inner ear and body, while for others, foot tapping is of no use whatsoever. Whichever; foot tapping is simply a tool, it’s not a religion or anathema. If it works for you, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t use it.

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Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Feck off, Michael, will you? If you disagree, then say so. Otherwise, mocking my posts aren’t exactly going to create peace and harmony. Insofar as I’m concerned, you’re proving my point. Celtic, if your tutor says you should do something, then do it, because otherwise, whatever are you going to that tutor for?

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Zina, i think he was trying to agree with you.

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Blimey Zina. I "was" agreeing with you

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Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Maybe we could stop thinking about foot tapping and metronomes for a minute and think about the music were playing. It might help to think of the tune not as a melody or string of notes, but as a rhythm which our job is to fit the string of notes into. It might even help to put a stress on the notes which fall at the start and mid-point of the bar (*for practising only*), that way maybe we will begin to feel the pulse and then even foot tapping might seem more natural. Incidentally I’ve always stomped my foot and always thought it was a bad habit like making strange faces while playing.

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Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

As a drummer( pipe band and kit) I have seen many musicians struggle with this….. even drummers!!!!!

If you are playing in 2/4 time for example you could try accenting the first note of every beat in the bar……eg Strong weak, Strong weak…etc. This will help you to feel and recognise the start of each phrase. 3/4 time would be Strong weak weak, Strong weak weak….etc.

The main problem is more than likely that your coordination between hands and feet needs some practice. To some people this comes naturally but to others they may have to work at it!!!!! But can be easily solved.

Put a CD on and do not play your instrument….listen to the music and try tapping you foot with music practice this for a while and eventually your foot will start tapping in time automatically….sort of brainwashing.

Once you get good at it try plaing your mandolin and do not think about your foot….just play the music and you will crack it!!!!!

If you think about kit drummers they have to learn to play the bass drum with the right foot ( in time) usually keep the off beat with the left foot on the hi hat….play a rhythm wih the right hand …and play the snare drum with the right hand. All different things happening at the same time but fit together.

So if you think tapping you foot is difficult try palying the kit!!!!


Another alternative is to tap with both feet instead of one foot….perhaps this will come more naturally to you!!! e.g one foot after each other in time with the music. You play the mandolin so your right hand is doing something different to your left hand when playing so you are already demonstrating independance in each hand so the same can be done with you foot and your playing!!!!!!! As for the metronome…..burn it…. feel the music!!


Good Luck


Dave

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Celtic1234,
If you are, as you say, trying "desperately to tap my foot while playing, with little success," then my suggestion would be to forget trying introducing foot tapping into your playing right now. Your rhythm is unsteady because your rhythem is unsteady, not because you are not tapping you foot. Foot tapping should be be an intuitive extension of the internal rhythem of your playing. Now, if you want to improve your rhythem and steadiness my suggestions would be the following (in no particular order): 1) try practicing with a metronome, 2) practice playing a tune slowly with your teacher or some other steady player (not in a session setting) and learn the feel of it that way, 3) have your teacher record some tunes for you slowly with the tempo emphasized and practice playing along, 4) listen to some of your favorite trad. CDs with particularly attention to the "tempo effect" 5) switch to playing some slow airs for a while where you don’t have to worry about the tempo ;-}

Once you get a handle on the internal rhythm, then foot tapping will flow effortlessly.

Relax and be patient. You’ll get there!

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

I agree Brendan, I also agree that rhythm is one of the hardest words to spell (I used rythme until someone told me to look it up).

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Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Scott would bet a dollar to a donut that Martin Hayes uses a metronome. Well I would eat my hat (if I had one!) if he does use one.

Twiz

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I agree with Twiz - I bet you 50p that Martin Hayes will say no harm in trying it, if it helps, but that he’s never really used one himself. After all, he got his training with a ceilidh band, ‘nuff said. Besides which, there’s no point in us ordinary mortals trying to do things Martin Hayes’ way…

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Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

Okay: Although foot tapping does reflect the dance beats ( remember what these jigs reels and hornpipes were made for?),
and helps us play in unison, for me it really makes the tune FUN, and when I really get going I have both feet and knees going! I like rocking my foot back and forth (heel-toe-heel-toe), and would go crazy if I had a teacher tell me to just tap the toe:puts my leg into tension and distracts…

I do say let it come naturally, and keep listening to recordings, letting your feet move when you do. Hey I even listen to the stuff at the gym and let it regulate my workouts..

For beginners, there are so many things you are working with I wouldn’t get too distressed. I do find that when I am learning tunes I let the rhythm go a bit until I have the phrases down. Then I get up to pace.

Keep up the beat-

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I had this "problem" as well. I remember once tapping my foot during a piping class with a certain individual who shall not be named (basically cause I want more lessons from him in the future!), at which point he stopped playing , looked at my foot and said "Is that in the tune?, then don’t XXXing do it!" He told me if you can’t get the rhythm right, then go play for some dancers, they’ll let you know what you need to do! He was right! Play for some dancers, it’ll do you a world of good! (Plus its nicer than dancing to a tape!)

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

I have to agree with the last post.. Go find some nice dancers and play for them or better still go and learn some Irish dancing yourself. The music for dancers tends to be slower and more accented so it really over emphasises the rhythm.. And the sound of their shoes will give you a rhythm to tap your foot to.. One other small piece of advice if I’m playing a hard tune with a complicated rhythm I only tap my heel it’s less distracting and easier..Good luck

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

ummm…. why do you have to tap your foot? did your teacher tell you to? why don’t you play with a metronome until you can play in time….. then stop using the metronome and use your foot! makes sense to me…..
So much so that i might just try it myself….. *Grin.
I play in sessions and always tap my foot (rather flamboyantly actually and with great gusto!) hardly ever in time with my playing which is actually in time!?%$

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I see a discussion has just started on playing ITM in bare feet. Whatever next? If you try tapping with bare feet all you’re going to get is a disgusting slapping noise and sore feet.

m

Tapping your foot!!!!!!!

I’ve just been having a look at Bernard Parkin’s website - http:/claremusic.tripod.com/. If you haven’t seen it, go have a look, it’s great. Bernard gives a biography of Martin Hayes (among many others from Clare) and mentions that in his recording sessions Martin uses a microphone in conjunction with a foot mat so that his foot tapping can be mixed into the recording. What isn’t clear is whether two mics are used - one for each foot. Anyone who has seen MH in action on the concert platform will agree that the tapping of both his feet is a spectacular contribution to the music. It occurs to me that if the tapping is recorded in stereo then it’s probably not a good idea to listen to the cd with the left and right-hand speakers too far apart …

Has anyone come up with the idea of producing special footwear for itm foot tapping - optimising the sound and all that? If they haven’t, well, you’ve just read it here first.

m

Re: tapping your foot!!!!!!!

I’ll admit that I didn’t read every response, however, I have found 2 things extremely helpful:
1) if you’re good enough or find others of similar abilitiy or great patience, play with others, or with recorded music; and
2) (for something completely different and perhaps not possible) try dancing - go to a keili (or other folk dance), or just dance or move your body/feet when listening to (preferably live) music.

Whether or not one taps their foot as an addition or percussion to playing an instrument, the purposes are to internalize the beat/music and to steady the tempo. As you become comfortable with dancing and moving your body to/with music, it will improve your playing of instrument/s. You also get to hear and learn a lot of music that way!