If I could go back in time and give myself some advice on how to improve my guitar skills faster…
One thing I’d tell myself is to…
“Tap your foot to the beat when you play”.
Back in the very early days, I’d be playing songs I love, but my timing was pretty sloppy.
Sometimes it would be so bad it didn’t really sound much like the song.
Somehow, I’d be skewing the rhythm of a piece so much…
It would be like two people pulling and stretching a great piece of art by da Vinci and instead of it looking like the Mona Lisa…
It would end up looking more like Gene Simmons from Kiss! (No offence, Gene).
Yeah, that’s a wacky thought I know, but that’s how “off” my rhythm playing was.
Developing my ability to tap my foot to the beat as I played is the one thing that probably helped fix this for me more than anything else.
Before that, there were times I was jamming with my friend Sefton (who was a great player) and he would look over at me curiously and I’d instantly know something was wrong.
I knew it would be my playing as he was always a solid player who had great rhythm (he learnt drums before guitar, which really helped him).
It’s not just the playing but the “feeling” of the music where foot-tapping helps too.
Later my rhythm skills improved dramatically…
…But there were times I was jamming on stage in my first band, and the music was sounding big, heavy, and super groovy.
I wanted to jump around a little (like a younger Angus Young) and get into the groove, but I couldn’t.
My hands were so preoccupied with playing accurately, and my internal sense of groove was still not quite right, so I couldn’t do this without losing the groove.
It was frustrating as these were songs I’d written!
It was only when I started learning how to play the songs at home and learning to tap my foot to them that I was able to then jam with the band and “let go” on stage a little more while keeping the groove tight.
Foot tapping made all this possible.
I always say foot tapping is essential for two reasons.
#1 – It will keep your rhythm solid and stop you from speeding up and slowing down.
#2 – As you develop and start doing more fancy stuff, foot tapping is like the “north star” that will keep your sense of groove rock solid.
Foot tapping is not an easy thing to do, but it’s something I highly recommend you do every day, to at least one piece of music.
…Then you can build up from there.
To get my super simple method of how to introduce foot tapping into your playing, and help you confidently improve, check out the new Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy lessons, out tomorrow.
There’s the lesson on foot tapping, plus more lessons on songwriting and creating melodies, “reverse barre chords”, and a new Kickstarter lesson that will help you fix the 7 biggest mistakes I see students make when learning songs.
You can check out the academy below.
Have a great day of practice!
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.