The Foot Tap for Guitar. Why and When!
Everyone tells you to do it, but no one explains how!
Is it necessary to tap your foot to play guitar? No! That doesn't mean however that it's not beneficial to be able to do so. Most guitarists think they can do it. My experience with students says that most of them are very very wrong (See today's challenge below for a good basic test).
Even if it's not necessary to tap the foot while playing guitar, possessing the ability to do so shows that you fully understand the music you're playing! Or to turn that around, lacking the ability to do so shows that there are things in the music you're playing that you do not fully understand. Make no mistake, the foot tap is one of the most powerful tools we can use in guitar practice at all levels!
Hitting the stage
When performing on guitar, everything changes and we have to switch off the level of thought we have in practice and just "do it". If it feels better to tap your foot, then tap your foot! If it doesn't then don't! In practice however, aim to keep things outside your comfort zone, as that's where improvement lives.
Yes it will feel like hard work keeping (at least a part of) your guitar practice to a speed where you know you are tapping your foot correctly!
That's why it makes you better!
Today's Challenge - Smokey Offbeats
Here's half of what's probably the most famous guitar riff ever, presented in Taplature form. It's the one I've seen butchered in lessons (and helped to cure) the most over the years and is simplified in this arrangement to single notes so we can focus on the timing.
As ever, the challenge is: can you play the notes shown while counting out loud and tapping your foot as indicated? I demonstrate in the video below.
Aim for perfection, not speed!
A lot of you will find that your foot (or your brain!) gets turned upside down while trying this. This is highlighting one very common weakness in what I call your "rhythm muscle", the sort of weakness that can block your progress for years!
Using Taplature it doesn't take long to start eliminating that weakness. Until they're properly dealt with, problems with similar issues (offbeats and their various incarnations) will always be standing in your way. Slow things down, break things down and keep getting things right!