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Nov 1, 2021 - 12:57:10 PM
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47 posts since 3/14/2020

Greetings,
I have been playing banjo for about a year. And at first, if I am honest, I really did not pay attention to bpm...I just tried to play as fast as I could. Luckily I wised up. Now I learn the song as perfect as I can at 55bpm, and once I have done that I find playing faster much easier. So, far the fastest I have been able to play is 80bpm. That said, I find keeping the beat very difficult. What I have been doing recently is setting my metronome at the beat I want to play and tap my foot to it for awhile trying to internalize the beat,  and then play some of the song...but not all of it because I really never know if I have played the song at the right tempo the entire way through. Therefore I have been using backing tracks. That way I know based on what is being played, and If I and the backing track end at the same time I have hopefully played the song at an even tempo throughout.
I want to be able to put on a metronome, and tap my foot and play. But, when I try this I find that I am focusing on tapping my foot, and I loose track of what I am suppose to be playing. I do find that the better I know that song the longer I can tap my foot. But, even then I am getting maybe 10 measures at the most.
So, my question is, is there a way to learn how to tap your foot throughout a song. I feel that though if I were able to do this it would make keeping tempo so much easier. Or, is this just something that comes with time and lots of practice.

Regards,
Peter

Edited by - pmartin9363 on 11/01/2021 12:59:24

Nov 1, 2021 - 1:19:18 PM
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696 posts since 11/21/2018

Hi Peter, from a Gloucester descendant,
(My Uncle was City Manager in the '60s and my Dad grew up there. Many wonderful visits as a kid on my part.)
I was a H.S. Band director for years. Here's how I taught my students to tap:

Start slowly tapping your foot on the down beat only (one, two, three, four)
Sounds like this is what you're doing already.

Subdivide the beats into down and up beats. One (down tap) AND (up tap): One AND Two AND Three And Four AND.
The down beats are quarter notes in written music (tab) and the "AND"s are eight notes. Bluegrass and Old Time music uses a lot of eighth notes in rapid sequence.

There's no secret formula for tapping through an entire tune without actively thinking. It's just muscle memory.
Start with one phrase in a tune that you know. Do the above starting at 60 bpm (or slower) and gradually build up.
Don't try to do it with a whole tune right away. Maybe at the end of your tapping practice to see how much is "sticking" in the brain. Next add the next phrase (melodic section) to the lst and keep building the entire tune.

Trying to tap ONLY on a down beat is harder for a lot of folks than sub dividing. 4/4 time is subdivided into 2/4 and the act of tapping/counting the up(foot)beats really helps to cement things.

If you need to, count out loud for awhile. Finally, don't limit this to tapping/counting only when you play your instrument.
Do it while listening to the radio, singing in the shower, playing a metronome on your smart phone while away from home etc. It'll become ingrained and easier to translate to sitting down with a metronome and your instrument.

Hopefully some of this will help.

Nov 1, 2021 - 1:42:55 PM
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doryman

USA

1118 posts since 11/26/2012

I also think it's true that some songs are real foot stompers and some are not. So, at first, practice with songs that ARE.

Nov 1, 2021 - 1:57:35 PM
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51 posts since 10/12/2018

Nov 1, 2021 - 2:08:26 PM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26712 posts since 8/3/2003

If you're playing with backup tracks and are able to play smoothly with few mistakes, then you really don't need to tap you foot. Sounds like you are hearing the beat just fine with the backing tracks.

Also, if you're still fairly new to the banjo, you've got so many things to remember that adding one more is just too much to do right now. Give it a rest. Work with your backing track, get used to hearing and playing with the beat and eventually, as you mature and get more experience, the foot tapping may happen spontaneously. If it doesn't, don't let it bother you.

If you think you must tap your foot, try counting in your head as you play (another item added to your already busy learning curve):1, 2, 3, 4. That may help keep time. If you're playing 8ths (which you probably are), then count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. Then see if you can pat your foot to the beat.

Nov 1, 2021 - 2:20:15 PM
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2717 posts since 4/5/2006

Uhhh, sorry but I have to disagree with northernbelle. 1,2,3,4, down, down, down, down! In order to tap one's foot consecutively, the foot must go down, then rise (up) to tap again, and it will naturally want to rise at the same speed it went down! The downbeat & the upbeat are of equal duration, the emphasis is normally on the downbeat. The time value, however, is constant.  1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &  One, two, three, four being the downbeat, the &'s being the up beat. Some metronomes click sound is louder on the downbeat than the upbeat. The older pendulum style metronomes visual clue would be right swing= downbeat, left swing = upbeat.

Learning to tap one's foot while playing, is akin to patting one's head while rubbing tummy. cheeky Not all that difficult, once learned. Try tapping your foot while doing TITM 3251 4251 square rolls. In 4/4 time, all the T's are the downbeat. In 2/4 time, only the bold T's are the downbeat. Start with 2/4 time, emphasis on the 3rd & 4th string.    

Edited by - monstertone on 11/01/2021 14:23:27

Nov 1, 2021 - 5:04:52 PM
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2975 posts since 2/10/2013

Some players just don't tap their feet. Some folks just develop a feel for tempo. Tapping you feet is not something you must. As one post wrote, some tunes are "toe tappers" and some aren't.

I play along with "Band in a Box" files. I would prefer playing with other musicians. But "Band in a Box" (1) plays whenever I want (2) plays whatever I want (3) never makes a mistake. Go to the "fbbts.com" website and download some of the free rhythm tracks.
When I play along with record tunes/exercise I use "The Amazing Slow Downer". Those software packages are played whenever I am playing banjo, fiddle, or guitar.

I don't think a person learns tempo.  It is something that is gradually acquired.  

Edited by - Richard Hauser on 11/01/2021 17:06:59

Nov 2, 2021 - 7:32:40 AM
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leehar

USA

44 posts since 2/18/2018

One of the guys in the first band I played with once told me he set his time to my foot tapping and he really appreciated that. Funny thing is, I didn’t even realize I was tapping my foot! I suppose I must have been doing it from the beginning but I don’t remember ever making a conscious decision to tap. Never had much luck with a metronome either. I agree with the concept of being an active music listener, tapping your foot while you listen to music. Somehow that seems to implant a “natural” sense of rhythm in you.

Nov 2, 2021 - 8:05:49 AM
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RB3

USA

1168 posts since 4/12/2004

It's been my experience that when one chooses to tap their foot when they play music, it's the result of good timing, not the cause of it.

If you're using a metronome and tapping your foot while you're playing, you're trying to synchronize three things. If you abandon the foot tapping, you will only be trying to synchronize two things. And, since timing is your stated problem, it's likely that your foot tapping is not going to be nearly as precise as your metronome.

Nov 2, 2021 - 9:14:14 AM
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8282 posts since 6/30/2020

quote:
Originally posted by pmartin9363

So, my question is, is there a way to learn how to tap your foot throughout a song. I feel that though if I were able to do this it would make keeping tempo so much easier. Or, is this just something that comes with time and lots of practice.
Regards,
Peter

Hi Peter, 

In addition to the great advice above from other BHO folks I will offer this:

When I was younger (I'm 70 yo now) and playing trumpet and guitar in bands, I realized the importance of keeping time accurately and sought to improve my time keeping skills accordingly. To that end I began tapping my foot to just about any music I was hearing. Eventually, over a period of time, I have developed just about perfect steady timing which has become natural to me. Now, again I will stress that repetition is your friend when learning just about anything. Practice, practice, practice, makes perfect. One of the side benefits to all of this foot tapping over time, has come in the form of being able to quickly recognize the time signature of a song and on which measures the beats are accented. Also it has helped me recognize the chord progressions and how they are structured and repeated.
 

One thing that will help you build speed associated with good timing, is to take one or two measures at a time and loop them end to end and just repeat those isolated measures until you have the timing, speed (bpm), roll patterns, and any associated embellishments perfected. This may take you several hundred repetitions or more. Again, repetition is your friend. 
 

Good Luck and keep after it!


Edited by - Pick-A-Lick on 11/02/2021 09:18:53

Nov 2, 2021 - 3:25:30 PM

47 posts since 3/14/2020

Thanks Everyone,
This information is great. Seems like I have been trying to do to much at once….I just need to realize that this is going to take time. A lot of great information and advice which I plan to incorporate into my practice routine.

Nov 2, 2021 - 4:21:51 PM
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2717 posts since 4/5/2006

I've heard Earl Scruggs was not a fan of foot tapping on stage,,,,and he'd been known to purposely sneak up & step on Paul Warren's foot when Paul would start tapping during his break. devil

Edited by - monstertone on 11/02/2021 16:23:52

Nov 8, 2021 - 8:01:38 AM

2975 posts since 2/10/2013

I can understand band members not tapping their feet. Four or give of us recorded what we played and then listened. We heard this "stomping" sound. It was tapping feet. It is almost as hard to quit tapping your feet as it is to start tapping yourr feet.

Nov 9, 2021 - 6:34:14 AM
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75338 posts since 5/9/2007

The best thing for your tempo and timing is to play with other people.

Nov 9, 2021 - 8:13:11 PM
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HarleyQ

USA

3180 posts since 1/31/2005

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

The best thing for your tempo and timing is to play with other people.


..............that have (good) timing!!

Nov 10, 2021 - 2:54:56 AM

4503 posts since 12/6/2009

Reminds me of many years ago while playing with an older guitar player. I guess my timing was a bit off so he showed me how he solved the problem. He would tap his foot on the down beat and lift that foot high in the air for his up beat....I was surprised how well it worked ....but how funny it looked. (of course don’t ever do that while playing to an audience) lol
It did remind me of Dave Macon while doing it...lol

Nov 10, 2021 - 6:52:22 AM

75338 posts since 5/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by HarleyQ
quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

The best thing for your tempo and timing is to play with other people.


..............that have (good) timing!!


Most people have good timing once they're in amongst others.That high average of good timing lifts the beginner on a wave of peer group pressure.

There are also good lessons learned by playing with someone with timing issues.A sideman earns his or her money by staying with a lead that has left the tracks,momentarily.This lesson is best learned by playing with others.

Nov 10, 2021 - 4:05:03 PM
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2975 posts since 2/10/2013

Steve - I prefer rhythm players who forget about me playing melody. I just want them to keep steady timing, play the right chords, and for some tunes play those transitory licks.
If I make a mistake, I can quickly get back in "sync" with the rhythm player. When I have the opportunity to play with a really good rhythm player, playing the melody becomes easier and my playing improves. When playing with a poor rhythm player I have to concentrate very hard on what I am doing. When I play with a good rhythm player I don't think much, I just relax and just enjoy playing.

Nov 10, 2021 - 7:22:21 PM

HarleyQ

USA

3180 posts since 1/31/2005

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis
quote:
Originally posted by HarleyQ
quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

The best thing for your tempo and timing is to play with other people.


..............that have (good) timing!!


Most people have good timing once they're in amongst others.That high average of good timing lifts the beginner on a wave of peer group pressure.

There are also good lessons learned by playing with someone with timing issues.A sideman earns his or her money by staying with a lead that has left the tracks,momentarily.This lesson is best learned by playing with others.


"peer group pressure", DON'T make someone with "bad" timing play better. Any musician should know that. "One bad apple rots the whole bushel".

Nov 10, 2021 - 7:56:58 PM

75338 posts since 5/9/2007

Not around here.It's called "immersion" and works likes living with a family that speaks a foreign language.

Nov 11, 2021 - 2:57:40 AM

4503 posts since 12/6/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Richard Hauser

Steve - I prefer rhythm players who forget about me playing melody. I just want them to keep steady timing, play the right chords, and for some tunes play those transitory licks.
If I make a mistake, I can quickly get back in "sync" with the rhythm player. When I have the opportunity to play with a really good rhythm player, playing the melody becomes easier and my playing improves. When playing with a poor rhythm player I have to concentrate very hard on what I am doing. When I play with a good rhythm player I don't think much, I just relax and just enjoy playing.


right on. Richard...rhythm players, guitar and bass and mandolin chops.......pull the band.....young beginners should try to always practice with a guitar player that takes charge of the beat and rhythm....is why I find drum machines boss

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