Drums and Heel Drums (Rolling) with Shane McAvinchey

Drums & Heel Drums (Rolling)


  1. Hi, I have a question. Do you need to hold the toe of the front foot up when doing the drums? I thought the drum was: toe down (back foot), toe down (front foot), heel down (front foot; keep the toe down), and heel down (back foot).

    • Hi Tamiko,

      Thanks for your question!

      When doing heel drums start with the back foot on the toe then press the big toe of the front foot down gently and roll into a heel and then back to the back foot on the toe. A drum on its own can be done dropping the heel at the back but if you are to do them in succession then you should use the ball of your foot at the back as you move across.

      I hope this helps and let me know if you have anymore questions! Shane

    • Hi Yifan,

      Sorry for the delay in answering your questions, for some reason I only noticed it now!

      Doing this in a circle is pretty much the same as doing it straight on except you are turning. As always the main thing to concentrate on is your back foot which will help you keep your timing and also help with balance! Try not to move off the same spot as you spin and its a good idea to just start off slowly and then gradually increase your speed.

  2. Hi Shane, thanks for the nice drill!
    I can perform them in place quite ok, but when I have to move with the drum rolls I really struggle.
    When I drum roll with the right foot in front and should move to the left, I can’t figure out how to span some distance without loosing the crossing.
    Step out with the back foot first and then pull the front foot back into crossing? Or cover the distance by overcrossing in front?

    If you could add a short clip with “moving” drums, maybe even in slow motion, that would be great!

    • Hi Daniela,

      Apologies to you too for the lateness in my reply but better late then never eh??

      Yes, you are correct with the over crossing, the trick is to really lean on your back foot as you move across and focus on keeping your knees as close together as possible. It is really just a matter of practice and starting off slow, the most important thing you need to be watching is that your back foot is always placed in behind the front foot and crossed, you should never lose the crossing..

      Hope this helps a bit and we will certainly have a think about introducing a drill for moving on heel drums.

  3. This is a great drill, and like many others I struggle when trying to move with the roll… also struggling a bit with the faster rhythm as my ankles seem to almost get more tight the more i want them to be loose… does that even make sense???

    • Hi Aisling,

      Yes, it makes sense 😉

      One of the biggest challenges in Irish dancing is keeping the ankles loose while trying to get rhythms out and keep your posture and everything else you are trying to remember. As you are doing this exercise (or indeed any drill) and you feel stiffness in the ankles try to figure out where the stiffness is coming from. It could be that your toes are stiff in your shoes which is not really what you want or also think about your knees and quad muscles that they are also relaxed. The front foot or the one that is doing the rhythm should always be loose and the back foot is held strong for the balance, you are also trying to turn out from your hips on both feet.

      Hope this helps a bit and good luck with the loosening!

    • Hi there,

      The first dril, the basic drum is to 4/4 then the first moving drill is also 4/4 and the last one is 6/8 timing with the two slow and three fast heel rolls.

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