Building a right foot

As a drum teacher, I often get ask how to build a right foot, a bass drum foot.

The subject is extremely important because the bass drum is one of the prominent voice of almost any rock/funk groove and requires a lot of dexterity.

To play singles, the training is fairly simple: put the metronome at a slow speed, let’s say around 60 or such, and play the quarter notes, then the eighth notes, then the triplet eighth notes and, finally, the sixteenth notes. The goal, of course, is to sustain those sixteenth notes comfortably. Once that is achieved, one can increase the speed of the metronome a little bit.

That’s for the singles.

For the doubles, it gets interesting.

There are many techniques out there to get some strong consistent doubles (and you will need to work on a specific technique to master them). If you don’t, your doubles will always have an accent on the second hit. Bo-BOUM! Soft first strike, massive second strike. So, the goal will be to accent the first strike.

When I went to Berklee College of Music the second year, I had two goals in mind: improving my reading and my bass drum technique. For the reading, I will discuss it in another blog. But for the bass drum, I went about it like this: I visited the drum rooms and watched every drummer. The one with the best right foot technique, I knocked at his door. He came out and was very nice. He explained his method in 15 seconds and that was it. Before he closed the door, he gave me one last piece of advice: “When you hit the first strike, hit it so hard you’re almost falling of your chair!”

I proceeded to practice exactly as he prescribed for six months. Which gave me a right foot I could finally be satisfied with.  Now, my right foot and I are good friends. We rely on each other.