Educating My Feet

It’s been a while since I sat down and wrote a “drum” post.

That might be because sometimes I let my drum practice routine become a bit stale.

Letting it become stale may be due to focusing more on my writing, both words and music.

When I sat down to write this post I was in the middle of reading Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”.  I made a point of setting aside some time each day to devote to reading this book.

At one point in the book he writes about how professionals work on technique so that when inspiration comes along they are prepared to create.

It was very cool to read this since I have written about how I keep practicing even when I don’t have a particular band to work for or song to learn.  I keep practicing when I don’t have some immediate goal I am trying to achieve.

The goal or reason for my practice it to continually improve my skills, to improve my skills so if and when I get a call I’m ready.  You never know when that call may come.

And I want to be ready when inspiration strikes and be able to play what I hear in my head.  I want to be able to capture the sound and feel I want and not be constrained by my capabilities.

So I realized I need to keep pushing myself when I practice.

I heard an expression on a drum video about rudiments.  The instructor said “you’ve heard the expression a drummer’s hands are educated while his feet are ignorant.”

Well in my case I have to agree with that.  I know I work more with my hands than my feet.  I did buy a book on four way coordination but haven’t pushed myself to put in the time with this book.

I guess my excuse would be a lack of time.  With a family, a full time job and house to attend to, an hour of practice time each day is about my limit before something else gets neglected.

Rudiments, which I think are very important take 20 to 30 minutes of every practice session.  That leaves me about 30 to 40 minutes of kit time which is just as important.

After reading the reinforcing piece out of Steven Pressfield’s book about working on technique, I decided I need to add something to my practice routine to push myself but still keep it to one hour.

I use a rubber practice pad which lies on top of the snare drum. I do my rudiments sitting at my acoustic kit.  I sit at the kit but only work my hands.

How can I incorporate my feet into this?

On a whim I tired hitting my kick (right foot) with the right hand accents in the various rudiments and using the hi hat (left foot) with the left hand accents.

This was relatively easy and was an OK way to loosen up my legs while warming up my hands, but I had to make it more difficult.  I had to challenge myself.

I tried using my right foot with the left hand accents and my left foot with the right hand accents.  Sounds pretty simple, but suddenly these rudiments that were second nature for my hands became more difficult.  My brain was cross wired.

I stumbled around and had to slow down to a crawl and slowly build up my speed.

Eventually one by one I was at least able to play the rudiment with my hands and feet with some efficiency.

But it’s work and it’s a struggle with some of them.

I could tell a big difference after just two nights of adding my feet to the workouts.

I’ll keep working with it and after I feel I’ve mastered using opposite hands and feet I’ll start to change it up, maybe alternate between opposite and same hands and feet.

After that I might start to incorporate hands and feet into playing the rudiment.

I was pretty pleased with myself figuring out this efficient way to do my rudiments everyday and incorporate working with and educating my feet in the process, while not adding any time to my already tight schedule.

I’m sure I’ll see an improvement in my playing.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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