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To keep playing in rhythm, I tap my right foot. However, it gets tired quickly (1 minute), and then I have to stop. I can continue playing without tapping, but tapping is important for me because I am working on improving my rhythm.

I play guitar using classical position, without a footstool, like described here.

What can I do?

  • I hope the guitar tag doesn't cause drummers to skip over this as I'm sure some of them would have good tips for foot stamina. – Dave Halsall Dec 14 '16 at 15:18
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Honestly, I recommend that you nod your head for rhythm, this can help because you get constant strain in your tendons from bending your foot upward. This is because this is not a natural motion that the body can naturally do, you have to sort of force it to get your body to do it. Nodding your head is natural for the body and it is better for your body in general. Also try head banging sometimes if you like rocking out. Peace brother ✌️✌️✌️

5

In addition to the other answers, I'd like to suggest the null method: don't tap anything. Internalize the beat. This doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me and many others. Practice with a metronome by all means to make sure your internal beat is keeping on track, but don't feel obliged to make it physical. It's worth a shot.

4

You are probably tapping one foot 4 times in a 4/4 bar. This can be slowed to twice, making the upward movement count as beats 2 and 4. Or, be like a drummer, and tap RLRL as on kick and hi-hat. Even further down the line, tap r for 1-2 and l for 3-4. Others use toes down for 1, heel up for 2, etc.

When playing in 3/4, you could alleviate the problem with R=1, L=2, nod=3.Often in any time sig, counting all beats is not necessary, so saying 1 at each bar's beginning is good enough.

If it could be another way, try counting out loud. You may already use a metronome, but if not, start. Now!

You can count on one of these ideas to work...

3

Tim offered some great suggestions. In addition to following some of his advice, I might suggest some other possible solutions looking at the problem from more of a mechanics, muscle stress view.

First of all, if you are playing in classical position without a footstool, and you play typical right hand guitar, your guitar would rest on your right knee (in classical position) so you should be tapping your left foot (the one your guitar is NOT resting on). It's not just the weight of the guitar but the position you must hold your leg in to keep the guitar balanced on your leg that might place additional stress on the muscles used to tap your toe.

Even if you are tapping the opposite foot from the one attached to the leg which supports the guitar, the seating position can play a big role in increasing or minimizing the fatigue induced by the movement of raising your toe or heel.

You will find it much less strenuous to lift your toe if your foot is placed out in front of your knee. If your heel is directly under your knee or your leg is curled such that your heel is behind your knee (which might be the case if your guitar is on the foot tap leg), too much stress will be placed on the muscles used to raise your toe. Experiment and you will see what I mean.

Also try altering your seating height which will change the geometry of your lower leg as it relates to the floor. You will find that some seating heights (too high or too low) will place additional stress on the muscles used to raise your foot. Experiment to find a balance between a comfortable position for your guitar and a position that minimizes the stress on the muscles used to lift your toe. You might find that wearing a strap even while seated will permit you to vary your seating position without relying solely on your leg to support the guitar.

Be sure your are low enough that your heel is firmly on the ground so that you can use your heel as a fulcrum. It may also help some to try different type shoes to see if shoes with higher heels make it less or more stressful to lift your toe from your preferred seating position.

If you do prefer a seating position that places your toe under your knee, then you might find it easier to raise your heel rather than your toe. Some positions may even allow for heel and toe to be raised alternately - as suggested in Tim's great answer.

Other methods of keeping time might include nodding your head to the beat or a rhythmic movement of your torso (like dancing while playing). Remember, you don't need exaggerated movements, just a steady, continuous, evenly spaced movement that you can detect.

Keep experimenting with different positions and different ways to keep the beat while you play and eventually you will settle into something that is comfortable and effective for you personally - that won't induce unnecessary muscle stress or fatigue. Good luck!

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