Rock Perspectives

Developing Hand/Foot Coordination

by David Garibaldi

For a drummer, one of the most important areas of study and consideration is developing hand and foot coordination. Frequently, I am asked how I develop independence. After some thought, I’d have to say I don’t. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, the word independence means: “freedom from the control of another.” In drumming terms, this would mean that my feet are free from the control of my hands and vice-versa. You get the idea. I don’t t h i n k this tells the whole story because even though my left hand may be free from control of my right hand, they are still dependent upon each other. More accurately, what we see today is a coordinating of hands and feet to produce more than one rhythm simultaneously. In this sense, the hands and feet are independent of each other, but no true independence exists because each hand and foot are dependent upon each other to produce simple or complex drum beats. This same hand/foot coordination is present in all other contemporary styles as well.The following patterns are comprised of three rhythms with accents,
Rock Perspectives 1

coordinated in six different ways.
Rock Perspectives 2

played by the left hand in pattern A, is played by the right foot in pattern C. What was played by the right foot in pattern B is played by the left hand in pattern D. This can be done with any rhythm patterns in any time signature.

To aid my coordination development, I pay full attention to details such as touch, which is matching the sound of the hi-hat with the snare drum on unaccented notes; accent control, which gives the patterns expression; feel, and hi-hat swishes, (opening and closing of the hi-hat) to add color. As I’m playing a particular pattern, I’ll focus my attention on one hand or the other and one foot or the other, which allows me to hear a part in relation to the whole. This has been very helpful to me in developing evenness and in smoothing out my timekeeping. Playing eighth notes on the hihat with the left foot and right hand part on a cowbell or cymbal adds another dimension. Play the hands only or one hand together with the right foot. Play the hand parts on one surface until you can hear how the accents fall in relation to quarter notes. Then, more hi-hat and snare drum.

The greatest key to hand/foot coordination I’ve found, is having a clear mental picture of what each hand and foot is to do before I sit down to play. This makes execution much easier.