Tapping Your Feet

Apr 27, 2016

[0:01] Hello there! You can’t see my face because I have the camera focused on my feet… Today's vlog is on tapping your foot while playing your fiddle. A lot of people have asked me questions about it so I thought I would do a vlog on it and just basically explain what I do and how I learned to do it. I actually learned from my first teacher, Mr. Adner Ortego of Grand Prairie, Louisiana. He lived in an old wooden house with a wooden floor like this and he tapped his foot and I thought it was part of the fiddle. It’s really another instrument if you look at it. So that's why I think it’s really important if you do want to learn this and you feel you’re ready, give it a try. If you live in a house with a concrete foundation get you a little sheet of plywood or something because you definitely want to get that wooden sound…It helps!

So I’ll just talk a little bit about the types of tunes and what you can do with your feet. The first we’ll talk about is the waltz or the mazurka. Basically, a waltz is in ¾ time so you have 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. The 1 I keep silent but the 2, 3 is where I tap. So I’ll just give you an example of that. So if I count it out, I’m going to just use my right foot for just for right now, if I count it out I get 1, tap, tap, 1, tap, tap. So if I play a tune, I’ll do something real standard I’ll count it out and you can see how I fit my foot in there. 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3…pause, tap, tap, pause, tap, tap…So that’s what the foot is doing. It really is, in a way, like having a buddy who plays percussion or triangle with you!

So that tells us a little bit about tapping your foot to the waltz…pause, tap, tap, pause, tap, tap…And you know you can practice just like this: If you want to count out loud, you know 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. So we really are separating your upper body from your lower body and it’s kind of like playing the drums. It takes a little bit of coordination at first. Most people I find that really want to tap their foot and try really hard…it’s very frustrating. I think if you practice your feet before you play the fiddle…pause, tap, tap, pause, tap, tap…I think that’s a good way to get the muscle memory going in your feet. It doesn’t really matter which foot you use. I’m using my right foot, probably because I’m right-handed, but you can try either one. I have seen some people go pause, right, left, pause, right, left, and rotate both feet. That to me, although I do it sometimes, that to me is more complicated. So I would really start with just one foot…pause, tap, tap, pause, tap, tap…

Let’s talk about the two-step. So the two-step a lot of people will just…let’s see what they do…tap, tap, tap, tap. So the two-step’s in 4/4 so you can tap your foot on every beat. So you can go like this 1, 2, 3, 4, tap, tap, tap, tap…tap, tap, tap, tap, 1, 2, 3, 4…So the same thing with this, if you practice with just your feet think of the timing, you know think of a tune you could have playing in your head…1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4…practice this first and that’ll get the muscle memory and coordination going, okay?

These two types of tunes are the first step: getting the waltz down and getting the two-step down. You could do the two-step and only tap once. I don’t think I do that but it might be a good first step so you could go tap, 2, 3, 4, tap, 2, 3, 4, or you could go tap, 2, tap, 4, tap, 2, tap, 4, so I’m tapping on the 1 and the 3 so that can work out, too. Whatever makes it easier for you. I find tapping on each beat makes it a little easier. You might get a cramp in your leg! That’s normal! Your knee might hurt, or get a cramp in your leg, just to get started but I recommend it because, like I said, it’s another instrument and that with the fiddle together can get some really cool sounds. I also, every now and then, incorporate my other foot so let’s see if maybe I can show you how I do that. Hmmm…I‘m not really doing what I wanted to do, I guess it’s because I’m thinking about it and that’s the other thing too. If you think too much about your feet it won’t happen so you kind of have to let it practice that muscle memory, just tapping it, and just let it do its thing. Let it just go on its own on auto-pilot or whatever.

It’s not going to be perfect at first. You might tap for a while, stop tapping, and then start again. That’s totally normal, you know. So give it a try. It’s a lot of fun and as I say, it adds to the music.

You even can do some really fun stuff, like you can actually take a tambourine…I know a fiddler who does this kind of stuff…This is what I’m trying to get, and hopefully it won’t fall off my foot: pause, jingle, jangle, pause, jingle, jangle…so you can have fun like that…It’s pretty cool!

And if you go up to Canada, French-Canada, you’ll notice they do almost like a step dancing while they play the fiddle so they’ll do you know, this kind of stuff…tap, ticky, tap, ticky…You know, that kind of thing, so you know, definitely it’s part of fiddle music.

I find having the right kind of shoes? I’m wearing just regular tennis shoes right now just to show you you can do it with anything. But the wooden floor is what really helps. And then even the room sometimes, the echo of the room. So again, if you don’t have a wooden floor in your house you can get a sheet of plywood. Sometimes leather shoes with a leather sole really add a nice sound.

So if you’re into this kind of stuff give it a try. If you’re not, if this is not important, and the fiddle is really the most important thing, don’t worry about it. But this was just a little Vlog I thought I would share about tapping your foot while you play because a lot of people do ask me about this so have fun out there and Good Luck!

I’ll leave you with a tune and I’ll tap my foot. Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap Ticky! Tap Ticky! Tap Ticky! Tap Ticky!

Whew! Yaille! What a workout…okay, have fun y’all. Keep fiddlin’…thanks!

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