Is it OK to Tap Your Foot While You Play the Piano?

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The question today, “Is it okay to tap your foot when you play the piano?” It’s an interesting question. You see a lot of pianists tapping their feet and you wonder, “Well, if it helps you to keep time, isn’t it a good thing?” Well, yes and no.

It depends upon to a great extent the style of music you’re playing.

In groove-oriented music, tapping your foot can really be a help. Jazz musicians, particularly with something with an intricate rhythm, are able to maintain the pulse with bodily motion It is something some great jazz artists do successfully.

What about classical music?

If you want to maintain a good, steady beat, there is no substitute for using a metronome, which will measure your music. Why is a metronome preferable to tapping your foot? There are a lot of reasons.

First of all, if you tap your foot, you may get faster and slower. Alos, you may not be playing exactly with your foot. But the worst thing is this. You get used to tapping your foot, and then you can’t control it anymore!

What happens when you have to use the pedals? If you’re tapping your right foot, you’re totally out of luck, and even if you’re tapping the left foot, you can’t use the soft pedal (the una corda).

And it’s distracting to the audience.

Imagine someone playing a beautiful, delicate, slow movement or a nocturne, and you see a foot going. It’s inappropriate. You don’t want to distract the audience from the music.

Now, I will give you a little trick that I sometimes use. Sometimes, just to make sure, particularly in slow movements when you want to make sure you’re holding long notes long enough, (which is a whole other subject for another video coming to you soon) I will tap my toe in my shoe, or the heel of my foot very gently where there’s really no visible motion of the foot. But it helps me make sure not to rob long notes. This is really valuable in slow movements.

But if you’re playing something fast, if you want to tap your foot along, it’s really not going to help you. If you want to solidify your tempo and rhythm, use the metronome. And for other styles of music, playing with a rhythm section is great.

There are even programs like Band-in-a-Box or Garage Band,

or any of a number of intelligent arranger keyboards that you can play along with. This provides not just a click, but a whole rhythmic style which can be even more helpful. You can have a virtual rhythm section accompany you in your practice, so when you get together with real musicians, you’re at home.

So these are some perspectives on tapping your foot. I wouldn’t say it’s a complete no-no, but it certainly can be distracting in classical performances if it’s visible.

Thanks so much. I enjoy your comments by the way. Keep them coming, and remember to subscribe to so you’ll get all the fresh videos. Again, Robert Estrin here at Living Pianos, Your Online Piano Store 949-244-3729