Before you begin working on the exercises that follow, I’d like you to take a look at the height of your drum throne. Once you find the ideal height, you will find it much easier to execute footwork without tension.
First, get a yardstick (or tape measure), pen, and paper. Then lower your throne as far down as it will go and measure the height from the floor to the top of the seat. Make a note of it on your paper. Sit on the throne and place your feet on the pedals (it doesn’t matter whether you’re using double bass or single bass with hi-hat). Without playing, try to sense any tension in your legs or ankles. Now, play the exercise shown below at least eight times while making each stroke at maximum volume. Again, take note of any tension in your feet or legs. Using a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no tension, write down the amount of tension you feel. Now raise your throne up 1", write down this new height and repeat the procedure. Keep repeating it until your throne has reached its maximum height. Then, look back at your notes and find the height that corresponds to the least amount of tension. You’ve found the ideal height for your throne.
Now watch my video demo that follows and I’ll show you the tension-free tricks that I use when playing the three most common foot techniques.
1. Use three techniques: leg, heel down, and heel up
2. Practice each foot separately, as shown
3. Practice alternating the feet using single stroke “sticking,” as shown
4. Practice using at least two volume levels: very soft and very loud
For Further Study
Using the exercise shown and any of your own favorite hand or foot patterns, repeat each at least 20 times using the three basic foot techniques as shown on the video: leg, heel down, and heel up. Use a metronome and start at a slow tempo. Practice each exercise at two volume levels; very soft and very loud. If you feel the slightest bit of tension in your legs or feet, stop and slow the metronome down a notch or two. Repeat the exercise again. With the proper practice you will eventually be able to play at any volume level and speed using any of the three basic foot techniques while maintaining endurance and control.
In order to take one step forward, it is sometimes necessary to take two steps back. So, before you put in any more practice on your footwork, make sure your throne is set to the optimum height to enable you to sit and play tension-free!
For more information on Tension-Free hand and foot techniques, please visit http://www.TensionFreeDrumming.com.