Tapping Your Foot
I know, I know – it seems like such a ridiculous thing to teach. The thing is, tapping your foot is such a crucial part of developing a relationship between you, the novice guitarist, and the music. For such a crucial part, though, so many people seem to get it wrong! I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from beginners who have said this lesson has helped them a ton, so maybe you’ll get something out of it, too.
Why We Tap
Tapping your foot is a great way to externally keep a beat. Of course, you can (and should!) use a metronome to help you keep time while you’re practicing, but tapping your foot is more personal – literally. It helps you actually feel the beat and the groove of the music you’re getting into while keeping up with the beat.
How We Tap
First off, you want to tap your foot on the same side you fret with. So, if you play a right-handed guitar and fret with your left hand, you’ll tap your left foot. Obviously, if you were to try and tap your right foot, your guitar would no longer stay in place. Not ideal!
Also, we typically tap once on every beat. Most songs have four beats per bar, so you’d tap your foot four times per bar. Even if you’ve got a bunch of crazy notes and rhythms within the bar, your foot should stay consistent and steady.
You can tap either your toes or your heels. Personally, I prefer to use my heel, especially because tapping just your toes can sometimes give you a leg cramp. Some people do both, tapping their toes and then switching to their heel when their calves get weary.
Alternatively, some people nod their head to the beat, sometimes people step side-to-side if they’re standing while playing. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter – just get in the groove, man!
As a bit of homework, before you even apply this to your guitar playing, get into the habit of tapping along with any music you’re listening to. You really want to start feeling the timing internally and developing your ‘inner metronome.’ I know it sounds silly, but it really is important.
The goal here is to get it pretty automated. You shouldn’t be thinking too much about this. Rather, you should be feeling it. Think about when you stand next to a speaker and you can physically feel the bass in your chest. You want to tap into that feeling – pun intended.
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