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Old 01-14-2020, 08:54 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 5,063

Originally Posted by Riverwolf View Post
(mods, if this should be in the play section then please move)

I'm not sure when I started but now my left foot keeps perfect time with my beat.
I remember years ago a teacher told me that my playing was clean.
But my timing was all over the place.
He said that it was not possible to tap his foot to my playing.
Try as I might it was just not possible for me either.
And now it has become automatic.
I tap sometimes, not all the time.

The question, though, is: your left foot may be keeping "perfect time with my beat." But is your beat in perfect time?

What your teacher said back then reminds of a common experience I'd see in jazz workshops, jam sessions with bunches of amateurs (including me!). I'd see horn players playing out of time, and tapping their feet out of time too. Obviously they thought they were in time. Presumably they thought the foot tapping helped, but obviously it didn't.

The reason - obviously - is their foot was being controlled by the same faulty internal clock that their fingers (and mouths, being horn players) were.

Your foot is not a metronome. Your sense of time is organic, it's going to shift this way and that depending on your mood. You can think you're holding a tempo when you're not.

Where foot tapping does help - IME and maybe in your case too (as you time has obviously improved in some way) - is when your sense of time is already reasonably good, and you're playing a lot of syncopated rhythms. Foot tapping helps keep the basic pulse steady so you can feel whereabouts the chords and notes should fall relative to the beat.

What foot tapping won't do (and a lot of people think it does) is help you keep to a steady tempo, without slowing down or speeding up. I.e, it can help you place those syncopations correctly against the beat, getting strumming patterns and grooves working, but it may not help you keep the beat at a steady overall tempo. That's what metronome practice is for.

When you see pros tapping their foot, it's probably not because it helps them keep time. It's because their time is already good, and they are just expressing that with the foot tapping - as they are with their playing too. The groove is already in them, and they are just moving to it.
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen.
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