I’ve been playing for a little bit, and really struggling with this. I was totally lost trying to tap my foot to pretty simple songs, so I spent about a month learning to clap/tap my foot to a metronome. I think I’ve made about as much progress as I can with just the metronome, but I’m still totally lost when it comes to actual songs. Any suggestions, or anybody else dealing with this?
As boring/simple as it sounds, it’s definitely a matter of practice…I was always one of those people who always tapped along with his feet (and fingers and head, etc.) due to circumstances, that past away a long time ago… Been practicing hard for 3 years now …each day a little bit and slowly it comes back on good days, no rush , there are many lessons where Justin explains it during the course …And I suspect that the strumming course can also make a good contribution to this, but the participants of that course can explain that better … I wish you a lot of fun and I hope that my somewhat too long answer will help you
And welcome here
Hello Clyde and welcome to the community.
Maybe pop over here and introduce yourself.
I could never get my foot to tap when I first started playing, it was just too much for me to co-ordinate everything. Now though that I have been playing a while it just comes naturally but as @roger_holland has said, I think it is just practice.
A few additional things to try if you haven’t already.
Put the guitar down, grab yourself a beverage of your choice, put a record on and try tapping your foot to the music.
pick two chords that you find easy to play and do a bar on each chord tapping your feet.
In saying that, while I would recomend including foot tapping in your practice routine, I wouldn’t let it dominate your time or let it stop you from moving on or learning new things. You might find that your foot naturally starts to move after a while without even thinking about it.
If the beat is good and very noticeable, I tap my foot to the beat of the drums. I would not say that it takes a lot of practice, but it takes time to catch a groove. Actually, I’d advise you to play along to the beat of the metronome, but at first, don’t play the chords, simply put your fretting hand over the strings to they do not ring out, and with your strumming hand try to match the beat of the metronome.
Welcome, @clydehunt !
A basic simple 4/4 rhythm on drums will be
Lots of songs use this
so tap your foot on beat 1 with the bass drum to start with
Hello Clyde and welcome to the community.
I wrote this topic for a different reason but think a lot of the learning and practice exercises will be helpful to you.
In my beginner days I similarly couldn’t tap my foot to a song for the whole way through, I kept reading and hearing about how important it was but it was quite elusive to me even though I could easily tap my foot to the beat of someone else playing a song or hearing a song on the radio.
There’s one song I play that has a tricky fingerstyle progression and if tapping my foot to that song, I had to stop tapping to be able to play it.
Keep in mind that when you are playing a song, particularly as a solo instrumentalist, there is a lot going on and especially when first learning it’s mentally overwhelming.
Now, my foot just taps almost all the time through all songs. Including the tricky one I mentioned. I was discussing this with a friend the other day as I’m puzzled as to what changed.
Part of it is I can play quite a few songs with a variety of rhythms and beats completely from memory and competently. Another part that happened more recently was one song that was on my bucket list to learn for many years, I finally cracked. It had what sounded to me like a syncopated rhythm and in fact it wasn’t syncopated, just straight eighth notes, what was syncopated was the bass notes, some measures had just one, some two and some three. To crack playing this song I rehearsed every day for 4 months for 15 minutes each day to the metronome.
Now the foot tapping just happens easily and in almost all songs, just like the other musicians did when I was first learning and yet it was so out of reach for me.
Hang in there and keep at it and go easy on yourself. It will happen.
Thanks all for the very helpful advice. Looks like this’ll keep me busy for a while
Along the lines of what @MorseMooseGreyGoose said, for me it just happened.
When i started playing i was incapable of taping my foot. The more i focused on it the harder it became and the worse my playing became.
I think i just stopped worrying about it. Then at some point after a year or so of playing i noticed i was taping my foot while playing, and while listening to music ( never used to internalize music i was listening to like that)
Note sure if it’s good advice or not but you could try thinking about it less and see if it just happens
Can I just add some questions to this thread?
Before I started to play the guitar if I wanted to tap along to the beat, I would use my toes. But working through the lessons sort of moved over to tapping my heel when sitting down which Justin suggests is the probably the best.
However, have just started to play standing up and I find tapping my heel tends to send my body and guitar moving around too much, which I find disconcerting so have started to tap with my toes.
Q - Is it better to be consistent sitting down and standing up or does it not matter.
It is one thing tapping to the beat when it is set by something such as metronome, backing track or in a band. If you are playing and singing a song from memory, then you will presumably have an idea of the tempo. Should you learn to tap your foot at say fast, medium, slow tempo, the BPM would depend on the type of songs you prefer. So, when you come across a song that you do not know on a chord sheet with BPM you can get a feel for the tempo. Would have thought a bit of practice with Justin’s Tempo Calculator and you could do this.
Q –is it worth developing this skill of being able to tap at certain tempos
When the tempo gets very fast and perhaps too frantic and tiring to tap. Justin does mentions I think when he is talking about all down 8th Note strumming that for the ‘and’ you have down strum, but you should just tap only on beats 1, 2, 3 and 4
Q – do you have to develop the skill of tapping only on beats say 1 and 3 or 2 and 4 when the tempo is very fast.
Any feedback welcome.
Here are some thoughts to your questions on foot tapping. I think I’m pretty good at rhythm.
It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting or standing. You should be able to do both. It also doesn’t really matter if you tap your toes or your heel, just what is comfortable and practical. I do both, and sometimes right and sometimes left foot.
You should be able to tap along to whatever tempo. You wouldn’t need to practice tapping at different tempos - just playing at different tempos and using your metronome and it will come. I don’t think it’s practically possible to go - “hey, I can tap at 96 bpm” and get it exact each time. If you’re playing unaccompanied the important thing is to keep a consistent tempo. Whether that be fast or slow.
So this is where the rules start to bend, or break a bit IMHO.
Generally you’d tap on each beat in 4/4 time. 1, 2, 3, 4. Not each strum - you might be doing a syncopated 16th note strumming pattern, but you don’t tap each strum. In 6/8 time you’d tap on beats 1 and 4, twice per bar. But when you’re playing something really fast, perhaps with all down 8th note chugs - if you’re able to keep time that fast, perhaps you don’t need to tap at all then, because your chugging arm is keeping time.
My view on foot tapping in general is that it’s an essential skill, but once it’s natural, you don’t need to do it consistently. Foot tapping helps immensely with keeping consistent time.
- If you can’t foot tap, you probably can’t keep time, and would speed up and slow down - and sometimes even accidentally change time signature.
- If you can foot tap consistently, you can probably keep time, as using the “something else” in your body e.g. the foot seems to help with that.
- If you’re ace at it - at that point you can probably keep time better even without foot tapping, but you’d rely on it as an unconscious thing.
Thanks for comprehensive input
So, some further thoughts on the questions I posed.
Q1 – I think I am probably going to mix and match as they say until I find what is best. The issue I have standing up is that because of an old back sports injury, I need to be careful how I stand when it is for a long time. If I am tapping my heel, I have most of my weight on the other foot and that tends to twist my back slightly, which is not good news. I have started to try and make very small movements with my heel when standing and keep my weight mostly on both feet so that might be worth pursuing.
Q2 – I sort of made my mind up at begin able to tap without any outside input at 100/140/180 BPM sort if covers my current range of songs. Really to get a feel for a new song before I start to learn it, of course you can look up the tempo and use a metronome.
Q3 – yes tapping on different beats is probably a step too far a present but no doubt it a skill you can learn later in the journey
Overall, I agree it is an essential skill and I definitely have seen an improvement over time, as with all things, keep practicing.