In last month’s lesson, we began to develop my Tension-Free versions of three basic foot techniques (you can check out the lesson here). Regardless of the style of music you play, there are times when you may prefer one foot technique over another. But for the most versatility, you should be able to seamlessly switch between techniques in response to changes in dynamic levels, rhythmic patterns, and tempo. This month we’ll develop the ability to switch between leg, heel-up, and heel-down strokes using single bass drum technique.
Refer to the written exercise below. Practice each foot separately. First, practice without playing the accents and follow the designation under each note that explains the technique to play. Add the accents only after you become comfortable playing the unaccented exercise. This will require you to incorporate the leg technique as shown in the written example and video demonstration.
Practice very slowly with a metronome and go for accuracy, increasing your speed gradually. If you feel any tension starting to creep in at a particular tempo, stop immediately. Turn the metronome down a notch and practice the exercise at the slower, controlled tempo. Speed will come eventually, but don't rush it!
Watch the video demonstration, paying close attention to the accented pattern. You’ll notice that I use my leg to produce the accent but the first accent is made by bringing my leg down and the second accent by bringing my leg up. This is a technique I call a “leg pull out.”
L = Leg
U = Heel-Up
D = Heel-Down
Practice the above exercises with each foot separately and repeatedly until you can easily switch between the three basic foot techniques. If you want your footwork to equal the speed and endurance of your hands, you need to practice at least as often as you practice hand technique.
This is the first step in developing single foot bass technique that can rival much of what double bass drummers play. Next month we’ll take the next step by developing a Tension-Free Accented One-Footed Roll.