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Foot tapping??

MandyH

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As mentioned elsewhere, I decided to sign up to the Coursera free course in "leading an ensemble", primarily to learn about conducting, but so far it has been very informative about leading and directing rehearsals as well.
One of the threads on their forum is about Foot Tapping.

I am very aware that not only am I a tapper, but also a whole body mover - sometimes I bounce up and down, sometimes I sway from side to side.

Recently I have tried not to move, to internalise the beat, rather than externalise it. I can do this for a while, but then my body takes over again subconsciously and I have to make a concerted effort to stop.

In the video lectures of the course, it is very apparent that those musicians who are doing a degree in music are definitely internalisers of the beat - not a body twitches throughout the videos.

I spoke to my teacher about this, she also conducts our sax choir. She said that she notices that when she has beginners, their whole concentration is so taken up with getting fingers in the right place to play the notes that rhythm and tempo is very unlikely to be correct. She says she tries to encourage her pupils to tap once they get better at forming the notes so that the rhythm and tempo become better.

She said the amateurs who tend to get the rhythm and tempo wrong are the ones who haven't yet mastered tapping and playing at the same time. One of the lecturers on the course videos said that even music majors in strings in the USA are terrible at staying with the beat because they have not been taught to in the way that wind (brass and woodwind) players have, because the wind players tend to play in high school bands.

I try hard now to only tap my big toe inside my shoe, but when a passage become complicated I tend to get more enthusiastic with my tapping to ensure I am counting correctly (on early play-throughs, with time and familiarity, I tap less enthusiastically)

I have heard that it is very off-putting to the conductor, as no two people tap together!

So...are you a tapper? do you lead a group and have views on tapping.
 

Nick Wyver

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Tap if you can. Most can't. Preferably not loudly unless you're playing old style jazz, in which case it's practically compulsory.
 

jbtsax

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I'm a "big toe inside the shoe" type, unless I am listening to or playing Dixieland and then the whole foot taps. As a teacher/conductor of young players I encourage my students to "feel" the beat or the pulse to count the and measure the rhythms. If that involves tapping, that's fine. It just needs to be done in a manner that doesn't distract the other players. I found that students are either "counters" or "followers" which becomes painfully obvious when they are required to play their parts individually. Some students unfortunately seem to lack the coordination to play and tap at the same time.
 

Tenor Viol

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I'm a 'left knee twitcher' :cool: Or I am when singing... For orchestral playing (cello) or band (tenor sax) It's the big toe which does the counting. You do need to double-check what the conductor is doing!

As a youngster, I used to challenge myself to work out the time signature of music (people who only follow pop music don't in general face this challenge :p).

I have noticed a lot of people don't seem to be able to work this out.

I only don't do any toe tapping when the piece is either simple or I know it very well.

EDIT: since I switched PCs, my typing has gone to pot...
 
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Di in France

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I tap my foot, sometimes sway my leg to the beat, and when I've got a few bars rest, I tend to sway my whole body to the tune! :sax:
 

kernewegor

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One of the lecturers on the course videos said that even music majors in strings in the USA are terrible at staying with the beat because they have not been taught to in the way that wind (brass and woodwind) players have, because the wind players tend to play in high school bands.

I have often wondered about violinists... :verysad

I had sax and clarinet lessons for a couple of years in my teens and, early on in the relationship, my teacher expressed mild surprise that whatever time signature I played, my feet would do their own thing in various other rhythms.

"But I play in time, don't I?" I asked. "Yes," he said. So we left it there... :sax:

When I practice I hear a rhythm section in my head. So can my feet, it seems, and they seem to like to help the drummer out...
 

Alc.

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When I was a young obnoxious player I tapped my foot enthusiastically, and since the guys I played with were not house-broken either none of us minded. We only cared about the sound, and when whom-ever's father ran us out of the garage. Now that my present situation requires me to present my efforts from a sitting position, I tap my heel. I still only care about the sound.
 

David Dorning

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I tap my foot, sometimes sway my leg to the beat, and when I've got a few bars rest, I tend to sway my whole body to the tune! :sax:

Yes I do the same. It starts with subtle transfer of weight from one foot to the other which is ok but it can get out of hand and I sometimes find I’m almost dancing on intros or long rests. Fortunately holding the sax stops it getting as far as “dad dancing”, which really would be uncool.
 

kernewegor

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Actually walking around as you play can be a good idea. And if you want to dance a bit, why not...

It is well known that standing still puts more strain on the body than walking - hence the "Evenin', all!" of the stage policeman, standing to attention or 'at ease', who raises himself up on his toes from time to time.

Holding the body in one position, along with the weight of the sax, is harder than moving a around a bit as you play - it is not compulsory to behave like a total extrovert with extravagant movements, but by all means relax and move if you feel like it. I reckon I'm less likely to get an aching neck or shoulders if I move and walk around while I play.
 

old git

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Might be a good idea to recall that orchestras were once led by persons who tapped sticks on the floor for timekeeping.

One amusing incident, for us anyway, occurred when some poor chump hit his own foot, developed blood poisoning and snuffed.
 

Reed Warbler

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I think music should be felt throughout one's body when playing. This doesn't mean foot tapping neccesarily though I dont see how it would put off a conductor who is there to direct, not look at feet. If the rhythm is constant, as in most dance music, the conductor's job is reduced to indicating volume nuances and reminding where entries are made. They have more to do when tempo changes are indicated, their interpretation of accelerandos and so on then become crucial.
Some conductors dance, others barely twitch the baton; same with musicians. Big difference between Jaqueline Du Pres and Cassalls. Ian Kennedy leaps around, Ian Bellamy doesn't. A pal of mine studied with an Indian maestro who advised him to take dancing lessons which really helped his playing. When counting in, it helps to move the body in time to the projected beat before saying 1,2,3,4. That way everyone is already feeling the beat before the off, not just waiting for a starting pistol.
Billy Cotton cracked me up with his gag "After 4...1, 2, 1,2,3,5"
 

David Dorning

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Some conductors dance, others barely twitch the baton; same with musicians. Big difference between Jaqueline Du Pres and Cassalls. Ian Kennedy leaps around, Ian Bellamy doesn't.....

And the Golberg Variations wouldn’t be the same without Glenn Gould grunting gently in the background
 

stom

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You just have to look at the old videos of Dave Brubeck...... Foot tapping never seemed to do him any harm!
 

Alc.

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I think foot-tapping means the horn-player is smiling, but you can't see it.
 

Colin the Bear

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I seem to entertain half the audience at the local jazz night when I'm listening. All of me is involved. I find it very entertaining to watch the foot movements of the front line. You can see the synchopation. One foot, two feet, alternate feet and sometimes the foot stops for a tricky passage. No feet are in time but the band is tight. I'm the only one who doesn't sit down to play when I sit in. The bass player was absent last week and I took his seat for a few numbers with the Baritone. I play with all of me too. I sway and rock and bounce. It's exhausting. I find it easier to improvise around the beat, if the beat is anchored in my body. Needless to say no classical music is involved.
 

MandyH

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I seem to entertain half the audience at the local jazz night when I'm listening. All of me is involved. I find it very entertaining to watch the foot movements of the front line. You can see the synchopation. One foot, two feet, alternate feet and sometimes the foot stops for a tricky passage. No feet are in time but the band is tight. I'm the only one who doesn't sit down to play when I sit in. The bass player was absent last week and I took his seat for a few numbers with the Baritone. I play with all of me too. I sway and rock and bounce. It's exhausting. I find it easier to improvise around the beat, if the beat is anchored in my body. Needless to say no classical music is involved.
Colin, that sounds like me.....but I also play classical music in a advanced sextet! Although I still tap in that group, but my whole body tends not to get involved in the same way.
This may be because I am far and away the least advanced player in the group and I am fighting to keep up with them. My concentration is intense and I don't think my body has time to get involved!
Today I was diagnosed with acute arthritis in my right knee cap (probably also my left, but that didn't get an MRI), and advised to avoid kneeling or squatting or walking down stairs (not sure how I get down once upstairs, maybe I need a slide or a pole!) - he didn't say anything about bouncing up and down with a Bari strapped to me, though! :D :rofl:
 

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