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Improving the inner metronome #1105999
06/22/08 03:01 PM
06/22/08 03:01 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 103
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Jacob777 Offline OP
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My inner metronome definitely needs some improvement. It is especially apparent in pieces where the notes are played either very fast or very slow and with no tempo shifts (for example in the beginning of The Moonlight Sonata).

Using the pianos metronome for a while tends to help but I am also looking for some less mechanical and more "natural" approaches and ways of thinking.

Also, do you guys feel you have developed this sense over the years or did it come natural to you from the start? And is it always constant - the same from day to day - or do you have good and bad days. What factors do you think are important contributors?

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Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106000
06/22/08 03:08 PM
06/22/08 03:08 PM
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Canada
SAMoore Offline
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I also have a problem maintaining tempo. My teacher reminds me to "let the left hand lead." It's the hand that usually sets the beat. I find the metronome helpful for tricky passages but also think it can hinder the natural metronome that we all need to develop.


It's the journey not the destination..
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Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106001
06/22/08 03:18 PM
06/22/08 03:18 PM
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Santa Fe, NM
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jotur Offline
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I started life as a dancer and for me that's been really helpful with developing an inner metronome. That said, I also used one extensively when I was first learning to play for dancers, and always go back to it when I'm getting ready to play for another dance. And yeah, there's good days and bad days :\ I also know that, for me, if I can't play a piece with a metronome I don't know it as well as I thought I did laugh I have never found that using a metronome has made my playing mechanical - at least for dancing it is far more important that the beat be in the right place than that *all* the notes be played, or even that the right ones be played. Having the beats there doesn't guarantee danceability, but not having them there guarantees the opposite!

For other genres of music other folks will have more relevant experiences.

Cathy


Cathy
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Perhaps “more music” is always the answer, no matter what the question might be! - Qwerty53
Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106002
06/22/08 06:27 PM
06/22/08 06:27 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 6,253
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currawong Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by jotur:
I started life as a dancer and for me that's been really helpful with developing an inner metronome.
I'm sure it has! Don't be afraid to use body movement as a beat keeper. I don't mean stomping your foot, but there are small subtle movements which very much aid the inner metronome. If I'm sightreading something rhythmically tricky I'll toe-tap (invisible to all onlookers) or, more commonly, use a slight arm movement (in contrast to IPIBAHN's teacher, in this at any rate I lead with the right smile ).


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106003
06/22/08 06:42 PM
06/22/08 06:42 PM
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Jacob777 Offline OP
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Excellent points.
Perhaps too much attention on hitting the right notes can take some away from the inner metronome... When you worry less about that, and have more tolerance for mistakes, you have more concentration power to focus on the inner metronome.
Just thinking about these things, being more aware of them, actually made the practise session I just ended so much better than my average session!

Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106004
06/22/08 07:15 PM
06/22/08 07:15 PM
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Posts: 176
Pennsylvania
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Laura D Offline
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One thing that has helped me with pieces that have tricky rhythms (such as the Beethoven Sonata Op. 49 No. 2, first movement, with changing from eighth notes to triplets back and forth) is to sing the tune to myself during my daily walk, matching the beat to each step. That way I get the rhythm firmly in my head without having to worry about hitting the right notes and it makes it easier when I get to the piano.

Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106005
06/22/08 08:07 PM
06/22/08 08:07 PM
Joined: May 2007
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currawong Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Laura D:
One thing that has helped me ... is to sing the tune to myself during my daily walk, matching the beat to each step. That way I get the rhythm firmly in my head without having to worry about hitting the right notes and it makes it easier when I get to the piano.
Excellent tip, Laura thumb


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106006
06/22/08 09:51 PM
06/22/08 09:51 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 4,125
rocket88 Offline
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One thing that helps is to, as you sit at the piano, move the bench back a bit and slap your thighs to the same beat as the music as you play the music in your head.

For example, if the left hand has quarter notes (4/4 time), and the right has a combination of quarter and eighth notes, slap your left leg 1.2.3.4, and slap your right leg for every note, both eighth and quarter.

What this does is build into you the physical rhythmic movement of the passage without you having to focus on playing the correct notes.

As you do this, try 2 different approaches. First, count the quarter notes of the LH.

Second, sing out loud (not in your head) the melody of the RH. To do this, find a sound that you can repeat...I use "da da da"

If the piece or passage in question is too hard to do this right away, practice this method on something easy, like "Mary had a little lamb".

Lastly, keep in mind that rhythm is a learned activity. If you do all your technique practicing including scales, exercises such as Hanon or Pischna, with #1. a metronome or drum machine, and #2. counting out loud, you will gradually build into yourself correct rhythm. (ps...I know its hard!)


Piano teacher.
Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106007
06/22/08 10:34 PM
06/22/08 10:34 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
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I think you make the most progress just practicing entraining to a beat with your whole body. Can you walk with longer strides around the neighborhood, walk with regular steps, walk with mincing steps, jog? Do jumping jacks wide and slow? Regular pace? Fast pace?

You don't want to try these feet off the floor things if you have a balance disorder, arthritis, overweight. They can be done in a stable chair, because it's the motion with the legs and arms you are interested in, not the sight seeing around the block.

Also don't overdo it, you want to explore the movement in your body and the synchronization.

Other things will give you something to think about: a bike, tread mill. Then smaller devices to notice and listen to: the older style ringing telephone, a dripping faucet, windshield wipers when working, your heart beating, your eyes blinking steadily.

The idea with these is to get in time with them and listen enough to predict the next beat when it arrives.

Then you can do practice pages on the table away from the piano with no sound. The metronome plays at a selected tempo, and you tap the rhythms hands alone and then hands together. Hands together usually needs a slower rhythm.

If you are having trouble doing HT you can announce "Together!" "Left!" "Right!" "Together!" (abbreviated T L R) or whatever a phrase consists of.

Metronomes are handy to have. Mine is in a wood box (triangular) and my younger students have begun calling him "Mr. Clicker".


Betty

Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106008
06/22/08 11:03 PM
06/22/08 11:03 PM
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Posts: 126
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A sense of time requires knowing where you are in the spaces between the beats. It's a lot easier to play on the beat, so to get comfortable with the spaces between them, set a metronome for a moderate pace, maybe 80-90 bpm. (Find something that works for you, but don't make it fast.) Now play a note exactly in between each click, on the "and" that lies between the 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. It's tricky at first, because there's a strong tendency to play on the 1,2,3, and 4.

Eventually, slow the bpm down to stretch out the silent spaces between the beats. Also start playing a one-handed scale, or an arpeggio, instead of hitting one note. This is harder than it sounds, because I think we naturally gravitate toward the beat we hear.

I read about this years ago in a bass player magazine as a way to develop a sense of time. It worked wonders for me, better than anything else I tried.

Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106009
06/22/08 11:30 PM
06/22/08 11:30 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 8,483
Ohio, USA
signa Offline
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i used to think that i didn't need a metronome since my inner rhythms was good, until my teacher told me that i couldn't maintain even tempo and suggested that i practice with metronme as much as i could. so, once i have learned notes well enough, i'd practice or at least play with metronome to see if i could keep the same tempo. basically, you can't trust your inner metronome until you actually can play with a real metronome. an alternative would be counting in your head or tapping your foot, but still you need to check with a real metronome in case you loose timing or unconsiousely change tempo.

Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106010
06/23/08 12:14 AM
06/23/08 12:14 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 135
Seattle
Markeyz Offline
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Setting the metronome at a slower speed and longer note duration will facilitate the ability to push and pull against the pulse over a greater number of beats. For instance, set the metronome to click only once per bar, and possibly not on the first beat but on whatever beat you want to target as being "on". It helps to have a metronome that will accommodate very slow tempos in some fashion for this. Most mechanical and simple electronic metronomes are inadequate in this regard as their lowest tempo is generally 40bpm with some models going to 30bpm. This yields a minimum tempo of 120bpm given one click per bar in 4/4. For this reason I use a Boss DB-60 (the DB-30 will also work, as will a number of more expensive models). With these metronomes you can set them to click only once per bar for a given time signature (including a number of odd and compound time signatures) with a minimum bpm of 30. This has been sufficient for my purposes thus far.

Also, try playing scales, arpeggios, runs, licks, etc. while smoothly altering the number of notes per beat. This is a very useful exercise for playing Chopin type lines where there may be seven notes for the first beat, thirteen for the second and a decelerating four notes with a dotted rhythm at the end.


Jazz pianist and teacher.

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Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106011
06/23/08 12:07 PM
06/23/08 12:07 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 213
Jamestown, NC
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jjtpiano Offline
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Jamestown, NC
I was able to address my problem with steady tempos by concentrating on not rushing beats 3 and 4 (this suggestion applies to 4/4 time only.)

If you record yourself, you might find that you do rush those beats.

Keeping them strict will steady your tempos.


Live Music Is Best
Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106012
06/23/08 03:36 PM
06/23/08 03:36 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,049
Phoenix Metro, AZ
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ProdigalPianist Offline
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Being in a marching band for years helped smile

"Expert" opinion seems to be divided on whether you should practice pieces with a metronome or not as a general practice. (Practicing sections you have problems keeping in time is a good idea and not in dispute...just the practice of practicing *everything* a lot of the time with the metronome as a general principle, is something some teachers/other musicians don't recommend)

My suggestion splits the difference between the 2 schools of thought. If you have trouble playing with an even beat in general - work with a metronome to develop/improve your inner beat, without necessarily *playing* a whole lot with the metronome.

With the metronome, just practice walking, or counting or clapping, or tapping your feet, to an even beat. Once that's internalized, practice whistling/singing/clapping the rhythm of the piece you're working on.

Once you can play something with a good steady internalized beat, then you can play around with it, and make it not so 'mechanical'.


Adult Amateur Pianist

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Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106013
06/24/08 01:58 AM
06/24/08 01:58 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 10,856
London, UK (though if it's Aug...
keyboardklutz Offline
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Folks, you need to be careful here. There is only the 'inner-metronome'. Out there is chaos. The Greeks got it wrong.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106014
06/24/08 03:28 AM
06/24/08 03:28 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 256
Suburb of Seattle
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lizzy's dad Offline
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Interestingly, Pavlov used a metronome to torture dogs into thinking they would get food...of course, he tells it differently... wink

In another life I took up tap dancing. Years of fl-ap, step, ball changes seems to have helped with my inner-ticker. Instead of 1-2-3-4, it was 5-6-7-8.

l's dad

Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106015
07/01/08 01:56 AM
07/01/08 01:56 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
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Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Does anyone think they actually have an arrhythmia problem.

Dalcroze Eurhythmics is pretty helpful.

The way I learned to spell rhythm correctly was R-H-Y-T-H-M - Rhythm Has Your Two Hips Moving. It was was always hard to spell. So do a dance step or two, and get those two hips and everything else moving!

Betty

Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106016
07/01/08 04:47 AM
07/01/08 04:47 AM
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Canada
keystring Offline
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Quote

Dalcroze Eurhythmics is pretty helpful.
A link: Dalcroze - includes examples One would need to find where such classes are held, though. Betty, have you experienced these classes? Are they easy to find?

The word means "good flow", and it seems that the image of flowing movement should be a useful one to adapt.

Addendum: The Delcroze site I found lists a one-week intensive adult course at $500. frown

Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106017
07/01/08 08:41 AM
07/01/08 08:41 AM
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Denver, CO
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Quote
Originally posted by lizzy's dad:
In another life I took up tap dancing. Years of fl-ap, step, ball changes seems to have helped with my inner-ticker. Instead of 1-2-3-4, it was 5-6-7-8.

I totally agree with this.


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Re: Improving the inner metronome #1106018
07/01/08 09:50 AM
07/01/08 09:50 AM
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Santa Fe, NM
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jotur Offline
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Well, $500 would be out of my league laugh But - fortunately my local folk and contra dance groups are $4/wk and $6/2x-a-month, for 3-hour sessions!

lizzy's dad and dragonplayer - I've always wanted to tap dance. Sometimes my local community college offers tap dancing, and occasionally I see an adult beginners group advertises. I should get off my duff and go be a Mouseketeer! I'd go practice in the garage after every show laugh

Cathy


Cathy
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Perhaps “more music” is always the answer, no matter what the question might be! - Qwerty53
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