Getting the foot perfectly in time?

KJIB

Active member
I've been using my left foot to play bass for about a month (injury to both feet but left only has broken toe!). Anyway, I notice that I very frequently am early on the bass now. It's not enough that I can hear it myself (as a near beginner, 8 months) but I'm using practice software and that spots it. It must be bordering on something similar to a flam and while quicker than that, it's still not in sync with the other instruments. This is usually when I play (say) hi-hat or snare at the same time, especially if there's two bass notes one after the other at the same time as something else then the 2nd bass note will frequently be early.

I didn't notice this with my currently out of action right foot. I figure it's useful to address this now as one day I may want to play double peddle bass.

I'm not playing especially fast stuff (just lessons on a laptop). I've tried to slow the foot strike down but then with timing the other limbs it seems I'm more likely to make those late instead of the bass early. I've tried different foot position (i.e. further back/forward on the peddle). I'm aware it's not been long that I've been using my left foot but it seems you can catch up quickly compared to the initial learning of what to do, (a bit like if you had to write with your other hand, you'd not need to learn how to write again, you'd just need time to make it neat).

So, should I get going with something like (the book) Stick Control (applied to bass) or are there some better techniques/exercises specifically to train this out and get my left foot in time to what I want?

I'd like to strike a balance between not missing out on practice time for my other limbs and not just making the whole left foot bass take for ever to fix.
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
All you need to do is keep working at it and STOP over analyzing. You've outlined the problem, First thing I'd do is stop concentrating on the use of software. It just adds to your stress level. "OH MY GOD.....I CAN'T KEEP UP WITH THE A.I. WHAT WILL I EVER DO NOW?" You are after all teaching your left foot/leg to do something new. It'll happen once the muscle memory kicks in. Stop worrying and go with the flow.
 

KJIB

Active member
All you need to do is keep working at it and STOP over analyzing. You've outlined the problem, First thing I'd do is stop concentrating on the use of software. It just adds to your stress level. "OH MY GOD.....I CAN'T KEEP UP WITH THE A.I. WHAT WILL I EVER DO NOW?" You are after all teaching your left foot/leg to do something new. It'll happen once the muscle memory kicks in. Stop worrying and go with the flow.
Thanks for your reply. I've no problem keeping up with the software. It's just some combinations of notes stand out as not being in sync'. If I wasn't using software I'd not notice this and I'd have nothing to worry about because I'd not know. But it would still be there and I figured it'd be nice to nail it. But I also get what you're saying, I could just ignore it and it might just tune its self out with more practice. Or I could try to nail it which I'm interested in how I might do that, other than just going with the flow (which I may just go with in the end).
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Thanks for your reply. I've no problem keeping up with the software. It's just some combinations of notes stand out as not being in sync'. If I wasn't using software I'd not notice this and I'd have nothing to worry about because I'd not know. But it would still be there and I figured it'd be nice to nail it. But I also get what you're saying, I could just ignore it and it might just tune its self out with more practice. Or I could try to nail it which I'm interested in how I might do that, other than just going with the flow (which I may just go with in the end).
We arent perfect machines. It took a machine to decide it wasnt perfect. If you, the drummer, doesnt notice any sonic difference, neither will anyone else.
 

johnjssmith

Junior Member
Practice software can be useful, especially if you don't have anyone else more experienced to tell you if your playing is off!
Most definitely don't sop using it if it helps you spotting mistakes that you wouldn't otherwise spot.*

If you find that the practice software (or a drum teacher, or a friend, or whoever else) spots too many mistakes just start from the one you think is most noticeable, fix that and keep going with the next mistake.
I also strongly disagree with the fact that if you, the drummer, can't notice it, nobody else will - I wish my first drum teacher made me pay more attention to a few things, time-locking/precision included, and while I wouldn't have been able to tell my limbs weren't hitting everything at the exact same time a few years ago, going back to some recordings of mine I definitely hear it now, and after having improved in that regard I noticed my playing FEELS better, even though superficially it looks pretty much the same.

As for your specific issue, if your other limbs play in time, so to speak, then put them aside for 15 minutes a day (or more, depending on your tolerance for boring excercises) and work on your bass drum technique.
Set a metronome to a slow pulse, say around 60bpm, and hit the beass drum each quarter note, paying attention to whether it's in perfect sync with the pulse; this can also be done together with an excercise to develop a different bass drum technique, should you wish to do so.
When everything sounds precise enough to you raise the tempo a little, say 10bpm each time, rinse and repeat.

After those 15 minutes each day get your other limbs back and play a backbeat over the same metronome, 8th on the closed hats, bass on each quarter, snare on 2 and 4, and basically do the same thing as before for 15 more minutes, paying attention to make your hits fall at the exact same moment.

This kind of precision is, in my experience, the main difference between an amateur and a professional when they're both playing a simple beat.
It's understandable that you may not hear it straight away, but, assuming your practice software isn't calibrated in a way that's TOO strict, you'll most likely going to be able to hear it the more you practice.

Cheers, and good luck!

*This is, of course, no more than my own opinion.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Practice software can be useful, especially if you don't have anyone else more experienced to tell you if your playing is off!
Most definitely don't sop using it if it helps you spotting mistakes that you wouldn't otherwise spot.*
The problem is, just because the dumb box can measure accuracy doesn't mean accuracy is the most important thing for a beginner with two broken feet to be working on. All the software can do is tell you to fix whatever random thing it's able to measure RIGHT NOW— to whatever tolerances the coder thinks musicians should be following. I think it's an insane way to practice.
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
Thanks for your reply. I've no problem keeping up with the software. It's just some combinations of notes stand out as not being in sync'. If I wasn't using software I'd not notice this and I'd have nothing to worry about because I'd not know. But it would still be there and I figured it'd be nice to nail it. But I also get what you're saying, I could just ignore it and it might just tune its self out with more practice. Or I could try to nail it which I'm interested in how I might do that, other than just going with the flow (which I may just go with in the end).
Here's the caveat. Instead of practicing the rhythm or pattern on the software you're competing with the software. First things first. Memorize the "pattern" and practice it at your own speed. Once you're comfortable with getting it "right", then increase the speed. As you get better at doing it faster, you can turn on the "software" and shout "ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO!" Here's some advice from a guy who started playing drums in 1963. You can take it for what it's worth. No software, including metronomes are going to make you a great drummer until you make the decision to be a great drummer. Once you make that decision, you're in control NOT a computer full of software. Best way to learn is watching great drummers and emulating what they do (in your own style). I know there are going to be countless "geeks" disagreeing with my assessment, but bottom line is do what you feel helps you most and doesn't dominate your own capacity/skill. Good luck my friend. Hope your feet get better.
 

cornelius

Silver Member
As for your specific issue, if your other limbs play in time, so to speak, then put them aside for 15 minutes a day (or more, depending on your tolerance for boring excercises) and work on your bass drum technique.
Set a metronome to a slow pulse, say around 60bpm, and hit the beass drum each quarter note, paying attention to whether it's in perfect sync with the pulse; this can also be done together with an excercise to develop a different bass drum technique, should you wish to do so.
It's probably a good idea to work on some bass drum technique. But I would say that if your other limbs sound in time, don't leave them out. Play unison exercises with your weak limb, along with the stronger ones. You'll have to slow the tempo down, but it's a great way to work on accuracy. This way you are strengthening your (foot in this case) and at the same time, learning to play in time with all of your limbs.
 

KJIB

Active member
Wow, thanks for all the advice folks. Sage stuff albeit some very slightly different opinions.

I'm certainly one for being dazzled by all the amazing videos of what accomplished drummers can do. I find it inspiring and to some extent instructional but tricky to glean just the right thing to do for honing this particular aspect but I'll sure keep looking.

I agree that software can probably lead you down a path that, on its own, may not result in a well formed drummer. But I also view it as another tool available to those who want to make use of the full armoury of books, videos, mirrors, teachers, internet news groups etc. to help where it could be useful. It is just a different way to get some feedback. To be honest, I view it as just a fancy more helpful metronome that kind of just shows you "you wanted to play here but you actually played there". Sure, horses for course, it doesn't sit well with everyone.

I'm going to try a mix of with and without the software (which I try to do most days anyway). I think I'll start my sessions off without the software, build up with the metronome and then repeat the score but also slowing the software "playback" that I practice to and building up to see at what BPM the early bass creeps in. This way I hope to see measurable progress over time from the benefit of both worlds. Time to practice :)
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..Set a metronome to a slow pulse, say around 60bpm, and hit the beass drum each quarter note, paying attention to whether it's in perfect sync with the pulse..

Exactly..

And to make the exercise even more effective, i would say to set the metronome to 60 BPM and then..:

* play 1/4 notes untill comfortable..

* then play 1/8 notes untill comfortable..

* then play 1/8 note triplets untill comfortable..

* then play 2 bars 1/4 notes, followed by 2 bars 1/8 notes, followed by 2 bars 1/8 note triplets and repeat..

* then change the pattern into 2 bars 1/8 notes, followed by 2 bars 1/4 notes, followed by 2 bars 1/8 note triplets and repeat..

* then change and repeat that pattern with all 6 variations..

* then increase tempo a few BPM and everything all over again..

Etc..

I agree with Todd that accuracy is maybe not the first thing to work on with damaged feet, but setting a metronome and practice this, or the whole table of time for that matter (also with your hands btw) 10-15 minutes a day will also not hurt anyone..

In general, also referring to the thread-title, i think this is a very effective way..
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I actually disagree with most of the posts so far. Most people will agree that the drums sound different 'out the front' and most also agree that its informative to record yourself and watch/listen back to see if it sounds as good as you thought. The software should do the same but better.

However, if you play every note cautiously to see if its in time or not, it will affect the way you play and not give an accurate representation of your natural playing. So you should just play normally, then check afterwards.

You may find that raising/lowering the seat, or sliding forward/back, is enough to correct the timing. That's useful to know when you're performing and want to be precise, or if you want to deliberately want to push ahead or pull slightly behind for feel.

But don't do all your practice that way. Same as a singer or instrumentalist using a tuner to check their pitch - it can become restrictive, and there are times when you want to be just above or just below pitch anyway, or use vibrato. But it is definitely a useful tool.
 

KJIB

Active member
L foot is just trying to feel the hats, but now it's a bass pedal- very different.
Maybe?
Yeah, it has been a few months now (I think) that I've been playing like this and it still feels different; nearly there but still not up to the same standard that my right foot was. Now I've further complicated it by using a remote hi-hat so I can play that with my right foot (as that foot can cope with very light use now but not yet the relatively high usage that the bass foot gets). Still, it's the timing that's the tricky aspect for my left foot especially. I hope that in another month or so I can go back to normal but it feels like I should be able to get my left foot to strike where I mean it to so I'm going to keep working on it, little by little. Hopefully this will pay off when I go back to a normal setup.
 

jimb

Member
Here's a different approach. Time to get happy ..... Playalong to a favourite tune and then try a faster favourite tune....the happiness u get from just grooving in the real world will make all the formal stuff ur battling with seem rather pointless..and because its real fun ur feet will naturally get better.
 

KJIB

Active member
Here's a different approach. Time to get happy ..... Playalong to a favourite tune and then try a faster favourite tune....the happiness u get from just grooving in the real world will make all the formal stuff ur battling with seem rather pointless..and because its real fun ur feet will naturally get better.
I tend to do both. I've just had an hour doing basic 4:4 + syncopation exercises at a couple of different click rates followed by a stick control session (with some combining of hands and feet). I definitely need to have the "fun" stuff offset that kind of exercise and that's my thing to look forward to after work.
 
Top