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Do you practice scales with a metronome? #2778128
11/04/18 03:51 PM
11/04/18 03:51 PM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 10
Chicago IL
Z
ZanderChicago Offline OP
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ZanderChicago  Offline OP
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Chicago IL
Hi all. I'm wondering, did your teacher make you practice your scales WITH a metronome or not? I never used to practice with a metronome but my new teacher is requiring it. She wants to to use 120 bpm. It seems really really slow. I can barely play them so slow. It's like the concept of riding a bike so slowly and you can't keep the balance to keep it up. Also does practicing scales WITH a metronome server any purpose? I don't get what it will help me with.

Thanks.

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Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: ZanderChicago] #2778132
11/04/18 04:07 PM
11/04/18 04:07 PM
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Posts: 21,661
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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ZC:

Traditionally, when talking about scales with a metronome marking, one usually is thinking in terms of, for example,
- MM = 120 bpm per quarter note and playing in 16th notes
in other words, four notes per beat of the metronome.

That's fast enough for a good starting point.

Did your teacher specify one note per beat of the metronome?

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: ZanderChicago] #2778135
11/04/18 04:09 PM
11/04/18 04:09 PM
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Philadelphia, PA
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jdw Offline
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I don't do this. But I think usually the purpose is to get the scales more even.


1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Chopin, Waltz in E minor (op. posth.)
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
Mendelssohn, Op. 19 no. 2
Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: ZanderChicago] #2778141
11/04/18 04:20 PM
11/04/18 04:20 PM
Joined: May 2013
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Florida
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I didn't for the longest time, but now I am using a metronome, and I am doing all 12 major scales at a rate of 76 bpm (4 notes / beat as Bruce D mentioned). This is fairly rapid; I have a feeling you mean the 120 is per note, which would be the equivalent of 30 bpm if playing 16th notes? That would be slow. If this is the case, work on smoothness, and you might incorporate dynamics, eg make them gradually louder as the pitch increases, softer as it decreases.

I began using it only after a year or two of scale practice, mainly for smoothness, and to very gradually increase my tempo. I have been doing them daily for a few months like this, and raising the rate by 4 bpm approximately every month.


Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 20, Posthumous, in C-Sharp Minor
Pachelbel Canon in D
Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: ZanderChicago] #2778153
11/04/18 04:32 PM
11/04/18 04:32 PM
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Zaphod Offline
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Originally Posted by ZanderChicago
I can barely play them so slow.


Which is probably exactly why your teacher is getting you to do it.

Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: ZanderChicago] #2778154
11/04/18 04:32 PM
11/04/18 04:32 PM
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Romania
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pianoincognito Offline
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Yeah, my piano teacher made me do it when I was learning to build up my technique. And even in the context of pieces, when I saw scale runs in Mozart Concertos and elsewhere, I would practice those with the metronome too. I noticed several benefits to this practice.

1. The little moments of unevenness in weight shifting that tend to creep in when we aren't exacting about how accurately our notes fall are noticeable to trained ears, and actually really detract from the sense that the piece is technically under control. There was a time when I was younger and I won a concerto competition with the Beethoven's 2nd, and a few weeks before the night of the public performance, the conductor (who was also a percussionist by trade) actually made me go home and practice all of the scale runs in the concerto under the metronome because what I thought was "even," "on tempo" playing was actually riddled with little bits of unevenness: a note a hair too fast, or another note softer than the other note that gave the illusion of it being played more off-beat, or maybe one note that I held onto a few milliseconds longer than the next one. It might sound nitpicky, but having controlled scale technique really does matter. I definitely got chewed out and dished a slice of humble pie, but there was a big difference between how I sounded before this practice and after it. An audience might not be able to pinpoint WHY something is uneven like a trained percussionist or pianist can, but I think they'd still be able to tell that something IS worse or better about a performance depending on the clarity and evenness of the technique.

2. Also, musically, when a piece feels out of control and your tempo variations or accelerating feels out of control rather than intentional, it can compromise how convincing your interpretation sounds. (For example, if an aesthetically pleasing ritardando is analogous to a smooth parabolic curve, you don't want little quivers of unevenness in your technique to result in what feels like a jolt in the parabola because of an ill-placed note). If you have good ears, your fingers will naturally start conforming to the exact beat of the metronome.

3. Being very exact on the metronome actually creates a nice auditory illusion that you are playing faster than you are, once you get off of the metronome and maintain that exactness. Strange accelerations and decelerations detract from that sense. It will help you get that nice "sparkling" virtuosic playing that people describe when they hear a bubbly scale run on a classical piece or a Chopin etude.

4. Related to this, if you can play your scales to this exacting standard, and you then apply this technique to actual pieces, it will make your rubatos or any other "real, life breathing piece" fluctuations in tempo sound more disciplined, and more beautiful, because you will have a sense of internal rhythm that allows you to balance the give and take of a piece. (Some interpretations tend to sound weird and unconvincing because they don't balance this give and take well.) Scales do get used an awful lot in real pieces, so I can see why an initial investment in scales is a good one. (Full disclosure though, these days, I don't practice scales like I used to, because I feel like the pieces I currently am working on already kind of covers the same kind of technique practice, and I'm limited for time. So, I don't think scales on the metronome are the the be-all-and-end-all of practice that will always be a part of your routine, but I do think it's something that every pianist should learn to be able to do.)

Also, regarding the 120 bpm... If you can't play them slow, it's likely that there's also something not so good going on with your technique when you play them fast, but it's less noticeable to your ear because it goes by so fast. Anything you can play fast, if you're playing it in a controlled way, you should also be able to play slow. Slow practice is particularly good for evenly moving the weight from one finger to another. This is super-important, not only for fast scale pieces, but good training for when you want to have good tone control for those slow, beautiful phrases. Just like you want to learn not to have a sudden uncontrolled note stick out in a slow, expressive melodic line, a slow practice at 120 bpm is good practice for getting that control. I know it might sound weird, but I have sometimes practiced pieces at 30 bpm with a metronome. You're right that sometimes slow is more challenging (because the unevenness is more obvious), but slow practice with the metronome has its uses too!


Currently Working On: Chopin Etude Op. 10 No. 1

Practice Journal of Progress & Performance: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_gFNyVrmKptZF0zf3_A1Jw/
Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: ZanderChicago] #2778230
11/04/18 07:52 PM
11/04/18 07:52 PM
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Posts: 348
Toronto, Canada
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thepianoplayer416 Offline
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Running through scales with all the correct notes in major or minor is practice in note accuracy and usually used as exercise for ear training (playing without sheet music). Using a metronome is an exercise for counting. When you are playing every note at the same speed, using a metronome is usually optional. Unless you are creating a beat pattern by repeating each note with different note values like: C (qtr) - C-C (2x8th) D (qtr) - D-D (2x8th) E (qtr) E-E (2x8th), etc.
Wouldn't use a metronome just playing C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C straight with L, R or both hands at sync.

Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: ZanderChicago] #2778261
11/04/18 11:24 PM
11/04/18 11:24 PM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 387
Z
Zaphod Offline
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I would conclude from these metronome conversations that we all occasionally have that there is no right answer to this. I think a metronome is a practise tool, a bit of training equipment, if you will, and optional. Either way you slice it, if you can't play in time, you can't play in time. And if you can, you can. Perhaps the equipment or practise methods vary between people.

If you can play in time as required, and get it accurate and up to speed without practising with a a metronome, then don't use a metronome.

I personally use one, but I have my own little geeky methods with it, as I'm sure we all do, and I find that I get results, and actually like it, it gives me structure. Makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere. But I don't think I'd say that if you don't use one, you're not practising properly.

Perhaps you should maybe give this a short while, give it a chance. If you don't like it, then complain. But as you get in to it you may start to notice little feedback nuances from it that you actually find quite useful. Or perhaps not.

Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: Zaphod] #2778313
11/05/18 06:10 AM
11/05/18 06:10 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,518
Florida
cmb13 Online content
Silver Level
cmb13  Online Content
Silver Level

Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,518
Florida
Originally Posted by Zaphod
I would conclude from these metronome conversations that we all occasionally have that there is no right answer to this. I think a metronome is a practise tool, a bit of training equipment, if you will, and optional. Either way you slice it, if you can't play in time, you can't play in time. And if you can, you can. Perhaps the equipment or practise methods vary between people.

If you can play in time as required, and get it accurate and up to speed without practising with a a metronome, then don't use a metronome.

I personally use one, but I have my own little geeky methods with it, as I'm sure we all do, and I find that I get results, and actually like it, it gives me structure. Makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere. But I don't think I'd say that if you don't use one, you're not practising properly.

Perhaps you should maybe give this a short while, give it a chance. If you don't like it, then complain. But as you get in to it you may start to notice little feedback nuances from it that you actually find quite useful. Or perhaps not.


This is a rather oblique reference, but your response reminded me of this:



Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 20, Posthumous, in C-Sharp Minor
Pachelbel Canon in D
Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: ZanderChicago] #2778319
11/05/18 07:09 AM
11/05/18 07:09 AM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,059
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wouter79 Offline
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Originally Posted by ZanderChicago
Hi all. I'm wondering, did your teacher make you practice your scales WITH a metronome or not? I never used to practice with a metronome but my new teacher is requiring it. She wants to to use 120 bpm. It seems really really slow. I can barely play them so slow. It's like the concept of riding a bike so slowly and you can't keep the balance to keep it up. Also does practicing scales WITH a metronome server any purpose? I don't get what it will help me with.



Of course, you use a metronome if you have tempo problems.
And if you can't play it slow, you do have a tempo problem.
120 is not extremely slow, it's in the allegro region. For largo pieces you may need way slower, like 40 bpm even.
It can also be that your teacher is trying to address something else with this exercise.


[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]
Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: ZanderChicago] #2778320
11/05/18 07:11 AM
11/05/18 07:11 AM
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 1,267
Belgium
johan d Offline
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johan d  Offline
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Belgium
It is not classical, but I practice scales with a play along... It is actually fun!
https://youtu.be/QvSw7XO4Qwk?t=118

Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: cmb13] #2778344
11/05/18 08:52 AM
11/05/18 08:52 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 387
Z
Zaphod Offline
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Originally Posted by cmb13


This is a rather oblique reference, but your response reminded me of this:



That's why in the world of piano, they call me "Mr Non-Committal" laugh

Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: wouter79] #2778448
11/05/18 03:09 PM
11/05/18 03:09 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,661
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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BruceD  Offline
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Posts: 21,661
Victoria, BC
Originally Posted by wouter79
[...]
120 is not extremely slow, it's in the allegro region.[...]


This statement "...it's in the allegro region" can be misleading.

120 may not be slow and may be considered allegro assuming the metronome marking is 120 to the quarter-note and the student is asked to play the scale in sixteenth-notes. If the student were asked to play the scale in quarter-notes with the same metronome marking, then it would no longer be considered allegro.

Does it not depend upon context and the unit of measure?

As a textual example: The second movement of the Beethoven Sonata Op. 31, No. 1 is marked Adagio grazioso; in the Schnabel edition the metronome marking is 112 - but 112 to the eighth-note. So, 112 in this context, is not close to "... the allegro region" because the unit of measure is the eighth-note.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: BruceD] #2778452
11/05/18 03:22 PM
11/05/18 03:22 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 703
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by BruceD
As a textual example: The second movement of the Beethoven Sonata Op. 31, No. 1 is marked Adagio grazioso; in the Schnabel edition the metronome marking is 112 - but 112 to the eighth-note. So, 112 in this context, is not close to "... the allegro region" because the unit of measure is the eighth-note.

I'm looking at the first edition score published by Beethoven when he was 33yo and it is 2/4 Allegro vivace. For 2/4, the pulse/beat is quarter notes. Why would anyone give the tempo in eighth notes if the pulse/beat is quarter notes? Can anyone explain this to me? I'm afraid I'm badly misunderstanding this entire tempo thing and how it works with time signatures.

Also, why would the Schnabel editor have changed the tempo to Adagio grazioso if Beethoven himself had specified Allegro vivace? I can understand why music editors might assign a tempo indication if the composer hadn't indicated one, but in this case, the composer was anything if not clear that this was to be Allegro vivace.


across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2778476
11/05/18 04:24 PM
11/05/18 04:24 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,661
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by BruceD
As a textual example: The second movement of the Beethoven Sonata Op. 31, No. 1 is marked Adagio grazioso; in the Schnabel edition the metronome marking is 112 - but 112 to the eighth-note. So, 112 in this context, is not close to "... the allegro region" because the unit of measure is the eighth-note.

I'm looking at the first edition score published by Beethoven when he was 33yo and it is 2/4 Allegro vivace. For 2/4, the pulse/beat is quarter notes. Why would anyone give the tempo in eighth notes if the pulse/beat is quarter notes? Can anyone explain this to me? I'm afraid I'm badly misunderstanding this entire tempo thing and how it works with time signatures.

Also, why would the Schnabel editor have changed the tempo to Adagio grazioso if Beethoven himself had specified Allegro vivace? I can understand why music editors might assign a tempo indication if the composer hadn't indicated one, but in this case, the composer was anything if not clear that this was to be Allegro vivace.


I did write the second movement of this Sonata which, in the first edition you linked, is indeed marked Adagio grazioso. And Schnabel has used the eighth-note as the unit of measure because the time signature is 9/8.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: BruceD] #2778480
11/05/18 04:30 PM
11/05/18 04:30 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
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Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content
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Originally Posted by BruceD
I did write the second movement of this Sonata

mea culpa! blush


across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: Do you practice scales with a metronome? [Re: ZanderChicago] #2778757
11/06/18 01:44 PM
11/06/18 01:44 PM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 56
Colorado, USA
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T Cord Offline
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Yes I do practice scales with a metronome. It wasn't emphasized when I was first learning and I realize now how much of a difference it makes for my technique. I had to work much harder after realizing how much my scales could be improved in evenness and clarity. If you can't play scales at metronome marking of 120bpm, no matter if its quarter note or 16th notes then your teacher is smart to suggest this!


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