Tapping your foot when you play

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by azian32, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. Hey Tb'ers!!

    So i have a question for you all! Do you have to tap your foot when you play bass? When i play bass i love to spin my head in a small circle or move my head/shoulders, just ride the music with my mind and keep the groove in my fingers.

    The reason i ask this is because my bass teach is making me tap my foot when i play... now im ok with trying new things and in the end if i can master the co-ordination it will probably benefit in the long run. But the thing is, i always stuff up when i tap my foot... i can't get the co-ordination happening or if i do instead of enjoying the music i get fixated on the timing. where as if i play and bop my head i can play in time but i just dont think about timing... i just enjoy the music.

    What do you guys do and prefer? I prefer using my head, it leaves the rest of my body to do whatever it likes... i also find i can control articulation better if i move my head and makes my feel of music a bit more sufisticated. (if that makes sense).

    Thanks Tb'ers
  2. Really?

    No reason you shouldn't be able to tap a straight beat while playing. Some times my foot will get tripped up if I'm playing something a little odd, but tapping my foot is essential to keep a real solid and consistent pulse for me.

    I mean I guess theres no real difference with swaying or head bobbing though
  3. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    I just Concentrate, play and listen to what goes on around me.
  4. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I can think of two reasons a teacher would suggest you tap your foot.

    1. He does it and thinks that since he does it, everybody should do it
    2. He's noticed some rhythm / time-keeping issues with your playing and wants to resolve it.

    You oughta ask him if either of these is the issue.

    To answer the OP as it was asked.....sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Depends on what we are playing and what my role in the song is. Sometimes I'm moving around too much to do any foot-tapping. I concentrate on moving within the structure of the rhythm (some often refer to this as "dancing" :D ;) ). Sometimes I'm at the mic or in a stationary position. If I am not moving, I'm tapping.
  5. Thrash3r


    Aug 5, 2013
    I never done the foot tapping thing, it just never felt natural to me, besides I don't stand in one position on the stage, I'm always moving around so tapping wouldn't be very practical.
  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    Depends on the song. If it is one that is complicated and has a lot of stops and starts, I will sometimes tap my foot, otherwise, I don't. I've been told by many people that I have a great sense of timing so it really has never been an issue for me.
  7. I used to do that, now I don't, unless it has a REALLY heavy beat, like heavy disco/funk and stuff.
  8. Kmrumedy


    May 12, 2004
    Montreal, Canada
    If you want to complement your current body movements and really feel the groove.....tap your foot on beats 2 and 4. It will slow down any tendency to rush and locks you into the drummers snare. You will relax and your lines will flow better. When you listen to songs without your bass practice it. You will see what I mean.
  9. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sarcasm: Just ONE of the many services I offer! Supporting Member

    Yep, but I am a recovering drum addict!

    It helps, especially with a syncopated bass line.

    Dan K.
  10. Tapping that foot was the first thing I was taught by my teacher. It was difficult at first, but after a couple of hours it became second nature. Now I can't play without tapping my foot, or moving to the rhythm. If found that it helps with staying in the pocket.
    My drummer (!!!) only moves his hands and feet - but his body does not move to the pace of the music. He's is one of those guys who constantly have to fight to keep their time. So there's even more for me to do in terms of keeping everything together.
  11. LordRyan


    Dec 9, 2012
    Being able to play a relatively complex part while tapping your foot perfectly on beat is a good basic timekeeping skill. Many players don't really count time and get by quite well playing by feel but you can greatly improve your understanding of where notes fall rhythmically by mastering foot tapping. Even if you choose not to do it on stage just having the capability has a subliminal effect that will help you play more precisely.
  12. wvbass


    Mar 1, 2004
    If you can't find the one with your foot, you are in trouble.
  13. I tap my foot when I play while sitting, sometimes eighths, sometimes sixteenths. But I was born a drummer who was weaned on Bonham.

    Sixteenths looks funny, as though I need to drain it.
  14. smperry

    smperry Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    moved to technique
  15. Whenever I play anything in 5/4 or 7/4, you better believe I tap my foot.
  16. topcat2069


    Dec 2, 2007
    Palm Springs
    Use a metronome and enjoy yourself.....


    I only tap my foot when I'm recording......
  17. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    I tend to play most in the pocket when I sway. My feet are completely stationary, I just kind of bob slightly and move side to side without losing my foot balance. It's the same thing that Flea does.

    Tapping my foot does not help me at all. When I tap it while just listening to music I can tell it's way out of time.
  18. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    No need to tap your foot or bob your head or move your body or whatever.

    To me this is where reading and singing rythm may help and once you know by heart the part you have to play, counting in your head may be the only thing you need.

    I think body movement is nice when you have to dance to make dance music otherwise I don't think it is a necessity
  19. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    I think tapping your foot or having a time keeping appendage is essential to having good time. It takes practice, especially when you're fingers are playing triplets etc, etc.

    A friend of mine came up with this exercise:

    Two - Three metronomes, set at different BPM all playing at once. Practice tapping your foot to just one of them. This really helped improve my timing.
  20. Yeah I'm very influenced by flea and when I taught myself to play I always kept the groove in my fingers and just felt the music.

    I'll keep with the foot tapping because I know I have a few rhythm problems so it will only perfect me as a bass player.

    Thanks tbers it's good to know I'm not the only one out there who doesn't like tapping the foot.