Keeping Time with your left foot. Why?

tfgretsch

Junior Member
My Dad taught me to keep time with the high hat by rocking my foot. Heel on 1&3, toe on 2&4. It's a big band, jazz thing. He taught me that jazz players depend on the high hat and ride cymbal to keep the tempo.
A couple of years ago I was playing at a jazz jam. So I made sure that I kept the high hat and ride cymbal going with the tempo. At the end of the first song the bass player turned to me and said, "you play really well, but you need to back off a little on the bass drum". LOL I am primarily a rock, country and blues drummer. And when I play I keep the band going using the bass drum.

When I watch other drummers play I can usually tell how good they are just by watching their high hat foot.

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Thanks jim will work on that !
 

GOOSE72

Well-known member
Maybe you really don't need to. In another thread seperating men from boys I think it was they put videos up of Iron Maiden and took away key elements of the original song. And Dio and Sabbath. I thought that was amazing. The only rule in music to me. Is there are no rules. Appreciate you all.
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
Since you mention Sabbath, you can't play War Pigs without keeping time on the hats with your foot.
In my ear, the hi-hat part is ESSENTIAL in that particular song. I mean, even more essential than keeping time. Does that make sense? The hi hats are integral in that song. It seems a bit rare to me in rock. Maybe Good Times Bad Times as well?

In jazz, I see TONS of drummers with the left foot going on the hats the entire song. And I would think that has a lot to do with what they're doing around the rest of the kit--off beat syncopations. I'm NO GOOD with keeping time with the left foot. I've struggled with that since I began playing in the 80s.
 

GOOSE72

Well-known member
In my ear, the hi-hat part is ESSENTIAL in that particular song. I mean, even more essential than keeping time. Does that make sense? The hi hats are integral in that song. It seems a bit rare to me in rock. Maybe Good Times Bad Times as well?

In jazz, I see TONS of drummers with the left foot going on the hats the entire song. And I would think that has a lot to do with what they're doing around the rest of the kit--off beat syncopations. I'm NO GOOD with keeping time with the left foot. I've struggled with that since I began playing in the 80s.
I can keep time with my left foot and play around the drums with my hands no problem. But I can't introduce my right foot into the mix so I don't. I don't struggle with it I just don't do it. Ain't no rules in music I have a smoke and a smile and enjoy my day. Appreciate you.
 
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GOOSE72

Well-known member
Since you mention Sabbath, you can't play War Pigs without keeping time on the hats with your foot.
I just listened to that song again and he keeps time with his left foot but only when hes not playing his right foot. Then goes back into the song. I can do that. But other drummers keep that hat going the whole song sometimes. I can't do that. Mans got to know his limitations.
 

iCe

Senior Member
I just listened to that song again and he keeps time with his left foot but only when hes not playing his right foot. Then goes back into the song. I can do that. But other drummers keep that hat going the whole song sometimes. I can't do that. Mans got to know his limitations.
Also stamina i guess. If i look at Taylor Hawkins i get acute cramp in my left leg haha. He plays 16th notes with his feet every time he is playing the ride, doing tom fills etc.
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
I used to avoid it because it seemed to me like it would just add to the complexity, i.e. require even more limb independence than I'm already using. Actually this probably is the case at first, but in time it comes around and becomes more of an aid than a challenge.
 

Tony Trout

Senior Member
I've been playing drums since I was around 7 or 8 but I've never been able to use my left foot & my right foot together. I guess it's mostly due to having mild Cerebral Palsy - but the latter (keeping time with my left foot) is something I've tried and I just can't do it.
 

mrjones

Well-known member
Gives you another limb to use. Your left foot can be more than a weight for keeping the hats closed. Since it's probably the least used, you can assign it a new function, cowbell on a pedal for example. If you want to play metal, you need to learn to use your left foot.

Check this out: Play 4/4 with the kick on 1 and the snare on 3. Keep quarters with your hi hat foot. Play the ride as quarters. You are now playing the same pattern with your feet as you are with your hands, only its opposite side limbs and the pattern is backwards.
My teacher had me recently playing quarter on ride and 8th notes on highhat foot .very hard to do i still haven't nailed it
 

madjack956

Well-known member
Pretty much from the time I got my first kit. My lessons started on a practice pad, graduating to a snare drum about six months later. I spent almost two years studying nothing but rudiments before I ever sat down behind a drum set. When the day finally came, my instructor introduced the hi-hat as the organizing principle of timekeeping. He wanted it to be incorporated into everything I played, whether I was sticking it or working it with my foot. This is one, among several reasons, I've never dabbled with double bass. My style is too high-hat centric to abandon it for even one measure.
My hat is off to you Sir. I would have crowned the instructor with the nearest floor tom if I had to wait that long. I understand the whole solid foundation concept, but I was not a very patient person in my younger years and still haven't mastered patience well into my "Golden Years".
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
My hat is off to you Sir. I would have crowned the instructor with the nearest floor tom if I had to wait that long. I understand the whole solid foundation concept, but I was not a very patient person in my younger years and still haven't mastered patience well into my "Golden Years".
I do understand. That program would be less than exciting to some students, but I was enthusiastic throughout. I was very young and eager to carry out my instructor's methods. The associated discipline proved quite beneficial in the long run.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I treat keeping time with the hi hat foot as an "in" for the audience. The audience, for all intents and purposes, generally speaking, can feel the quarter note easily. And they kind of stop there, that's enough for them. Generally speaking. So the rest of the notes kind of weave in and out of the quarter note that is pleasing to the listener...when the quarter note is given to them. So it keeps the audience...and the band....on track. So no matter what subdivision someone is playing, the accessible quarter note is always represented by the hi hat chick. It's like the guideline that the audience and the band can cue in on.
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
Here's a great video that shows the importance and benefit of keeping time with your left foot,


And another Steve Smith video but a very old one. He's doing 8th notes with his left foot on the hi hat during most of the tune while playing the ride cymbal.

 
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