I got my first double bass drum pedal when I was a teenager. When I first started using it, I could barely string together a few sixteenth notes. But, the option to use both feet to play the bass drum opened up a lot of new possibilities and I soon began playing around with any ideas I could think of.
One such idea was practicing the rudiments with my feet. Up to that point, I had practiced them with my hands only, but having a double bass pedal meant that I could give them a try with my feet, too. I wanted my feet to be as proficient as my hands – and I still do.
You might be wondering, why might someone even want to try practicing the rudiments with his feet?
First, it will reinforce your understanding of the rudiments overall, which will help you play them with your hands. Simply thinking about a particular rudiment will help you improve your understanding and can help you apply it to your playing in unique ways. Practicing a rudiment with your feet forces you to slow it down and feel and hear it differently. You’ll likely find that you come up with new, creative ways to apply it in your playing.
Second, it forces you to use your feet in ways you may not naturally use them in your every day playing. That’s a good thing, because in normal rock, pop, jazz, or whatever music style, you’re probably not going to test your footwork very often. So, adding rudiments to your footwork practice routine will help you improve drastically. You’ll start to get used to how using both feet feels; you’ll build endurance with both feet; and you’ll improve your balance and posture simply by moving your legs and feet in complex patterns. The same can be said even if you practice double bass a lot. I know of a lot of drummers who practice fast single strokes. I don’t know many who can play flams, drags, or doublestrokes. Maybe it’s time to shift our focus.
Third, you’ll build your vocabulary for soloing. If you don’t practice soloing often – or maybe if you don’t think you are very creative while soloing – practicing rudiments with your feet will help you build ideas. You’ll begin to see your feet as viable options for creative expression and you will be able to mirror what your hands do with your feet. Ultimately, it can help you create ostinatos and independence ideas.
I hope you enjoy this lesson.