5 Steps to Improve Time & Foot Tapping Skills

This is It!

This is the post where we provide the step by step process to help you improve your time and foot tapping skills! What does this mean? It means that you’ll be a better player, have more confidence, and you’ll be prepared to play with other people. Let’s get started!

Two weeks ago I provided an exercise you can do to improve your time (find it here under the section: #1 Developing Time).  Now, let’s take this process a few steps further. Go ahead and follow the steps below, and you’ll be on the right track.

Saxophone Not Required

The first 2 steps do not require the use of the saxophone. When trying to develop time, attempting to learn the saxophone (at the same time) can actually slow down the learning process. If you can successfully count out loud first, then applying this to the saxophone will be much easier.

Step #1- Count 1,2,3,4 Out Loud

Here’s the process for Step #1:

  1. Set your metronome to ♩=60
  2. Tap your foot with the metronome
  3. Count/sing 1,2,3,4

Description: Every time the metronome clicks, the foot should come down, and a number will be vocalized.


Note: If it’s too difficult to tap and count at the same time, then start with tapping the foot and then add the counting later.

Step #2- Count 1&2&3&4& Out Loud

  1. Set your metronome to ♩=60
  2. Tap your foot with the metronome
  3. Count/sing 1&2&3&4


Step #3- Add the Saxophone

Once you’ve improved your ability to count and tap your foot with the metronome, you’ll find it much easier to play in time with the saxophone. In this step, we’ll repeat step #1 and step #2 but add the saxophone. So instead of counting/singing, you’ll play the saxophone. Here’s a little more information for playing 1,2,3,4 and 1&2&3&4&

  1. Play 1,2,3,4 instead of counting/singing
  2. Play a middle B (1st finger in the left hand)
  3. Articulate the note (make contact with the reed using your tongue) to define the beginning of each number


Step #4- Always Play with the Metronome

Now that you’ve spent time focusing on tapping your foot and playing with the metronome, it’s time to add the next step: always play with the metronome. When I say always, I mean that you should be using the metronome 90-95% of the time in your practice sessions. This will help you improve all aspects of your time keeping abilities and will help you develop an internal metronome. The most successful musicians develop this internal metronome.

Step #5- Isolate Trouble Spots

When you begin to play music with the metronome, you’ll find that some measures are more difficult to keep in time than others. If it’s not easy to play in time, you’ll need to focus on that particular measure. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Identify the trouble measure
  2. Use the metronome
  3. Tap foot
  4. Count/sing the measure
  5. Play measure on the saxophone 10 times
  6. Repeat process for 1 week (or longer if necessary)

We want to get the measure to a point where it’s not only in time, but it’s easy to play in time.

The Last Bit

If you follow the 5 step process in this post, your ability to keep time will improve. This process will take the beginner to a higher level of playing. When that happens, playing becomes easier and more enjoyable. In fact, the whole experience becomes more rewarding.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and I am confident that you’ll be able to see the benefits of your efforts soon. If you think others could benefit from these steps, please feel free to share this post using the social media buttons on this page. Thanks for your help in getting the word out!

What do you do to improve your time? Please feel free to share your successes in the comment section. We would love to hear from you!

Have fun playing!


Comments 2

    1. Post

      Hi Paul. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the post. Please let me know if you have any further questions and I’ll be happy to assist.

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