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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
TimR #2802621 01/16/19 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by TimR

Many musicians and dancers do have the internal pulse. In my experience these are all people who play in ensembles or dance to accompaniments regularly. Piano students are almost exclusively solo performers and I suspect that is what makes the difference.



Few people are born with it. And those who are almost certainly have innate musical talent.

Like almost anything else, for most people, it has to be learnt. I'm always eternally grateful for my first teacher's insistence on counting beats aloud for every piece I learnt in the first few months (even when just repeating the same note in each hand) - and she counted the beats aloud with me, so I didn't feel silly doing it during the lessons - until the 'regular beat' of one-two-three etc became ingrained into my psyche. I wasn't born with a good sense of internal pulse. I developed it by training - not by relying on a metronome.

Remember, you get better at what you practice. If you keep practicing with a metronome, you get good at playing along with the metronome's clicking. An external source of regular beats. Without it, you're lost again.

Whereas if you keep counting beats aloud, you can gradually count in a whisper, then in your head, then it becomes automatic whenever you play because it's totally ingrained in your mind. And the sense of a regular beat (which you can also bend if the music requires it) becomes second nature, and you don't even need to think about it anymore.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2802689 01/16/19 12:28 PM
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The dedicated single purpose metronome is strictly an antique. You can get more versatile functionality for free from numerous apps.

Personally, I never used a metronome, and I learned early to play in noisy environments. I have to make a conscious effort to pay attention to the clicks starting out, and soon I just ignore them, they fade into irrelevant noise.

Playing to clicks was an essential skill for movie and TV scoring musicians -- Local 47 -- back in the day. Now, not so much. It's just more efficient to play to the clicks than to fix it in the DAW.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2802933 01/17/19 02:03 AM
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The metronome is a tool or device. The question probably is not whether to use it, but how, when, and why. I wonder if the "how" (the different ways you can invent) is looked into much. When and why intermesh with this.

I've recently turned to a new chapter in my own relationship with the metronome. To start, the decades I was on my own without ever having had a teacher, there was no metronome. My playing style was influence by singing and tended to be lyrical, somewhat rubato. At some point when I got a piano again, I played with the metronome on. A music major in the family pointed out that I was totally ignoring the clicks, and talked to me about internal pulse. Also, that you don't try to "follow" the metronome. I put it away, and pursued internal pulse. At most, I'd put it on to check tempo, and turn it off again.

Next stage was counting, counting with clapping, counting inside the claps for things like 3/4, 4/4, tuplets - the bigger pulse of the measure or larger beats surrounding a tuplet - accelerando or the reverse by slowing down the claps and the beats inside them. I was happily metronome.

Recently I had a piece that kept changing between duple and triple time, without a steady pulse in the other hand. I was coming in early or late. I was advised to work with the metronome. What I discovered then is that I couldn't hear if I was early or late when I played back. The hearing had not developed. At best, I could try to "erase" the click of the metronome because if I'm on time, my notes will "squash" the click. There is an important point: You can't improve what you can't perceive. At that point, since I record, I realized my software also gives me a visual so I can see the clicks as sharp spikes. I could see if I was coming in early even if I could not hear it. I started listening for parts where the visual told me I was not in time with the metronome, and after a while my ability to hear caught up.

I happened to save a pic of a visual where a three-against-two timing was happening and it shows that the triplets (D, C, Bb) are relatively even and the note after the triplet comes in exactly on time.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/utlt9h2q6xlh5x4/18.12.18a%20illustration.jpg?dl=0

After that I turned off the metronome, went on to straight counting, and moved toward making it musical with rubato where needed without losing the pulse.

What I would NOT do is play with the metronome going tick tick tick, hoping to develop pulse by osmosis. Practising is an active, aware, and somewhat creative process where you change what you do and how you do it according to what is going on. If you have a teacher and especially at the beginning, your teacher will have things in mind for that process, and it's a good idea to try what he or she is saying, and for long enough.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2803120 01/17/19 01:19 PM
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Once you have developed good internal time, I think you have to be wary of it fading or needing to be recalibrated, unless you are periodically working on it or playing in ensembles that force you to.

I sometimes wonder about piano teachers, forced to listen all day to students who stumble and stutter to various degrees. How do they keep their own time skills?

Here's an article by Antonio Garcia, who teaches jazz skills in the music program at VCU in Richmond. I've met him, played some of his arrangements, and been to a couple master classes. He did one of the exercises in the following article with a group I play with, AND the audience, and it was very intriguing. He gets people doing rhythm with a metronome, then starts making it harder by removing beats.


Improve Your Groove - Antonio García


https://www.garciamusic.com/educator/articles/improve.groove.html


One of his oft repeated sayings: If you sound good, you're not practicing: you're showing off. Stop showing off, get practicing!


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
TimR #2803197 01/17/19 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Antonio García

One of his oft repeated sayings: If you sound good, you're not practicing: you're showing off. Stop showing off, get practicing!


Good quote. I like that.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
prout #2803243 01/17/19 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by TimR
Antonio García

One of his oft repeated sayings: If you sound good, you're not practicing: you're showing off. Stop showing off, get practicing!


Good quote. I like that.


It's a cute glib saying but it doesn't make sense to me. When I sound good, it is because of how I practised, and because what I did was real practising, working on weak areas and so on. If I didn't practise properly, or just played through in the guise of practising, I also wont' sound good.

Does he mean, "If you imagine you sound good:"? If you sound good, well that's the goal, isn't it?

If you sound good when and where? If you are performing, that's supposed to be how it is. If you are practising, and you stay with things where you sound good, you are wasting your time where it's not needed.

In short, I don't get the saying. I'm not sure I like it.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2803246 01/17/19 06:45 PM
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I think your reading too much into it. I just think it means practice more, play less.

Obviously the practice has to be directed. In university my teachers didn't allow me to play a piece up to tempo or completely through until a few days before the recital, and that was with 3 to 6 months of prep. When it came time to perform, it was a piece of cake. I've used that technique for decades. Probably not the right approach for everyone though.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2803318 01/17/19 10:35 PM
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It's hyperbole to make a point.

He's a good communicator, I'm always impressed when I see him in action in person.

His point is that working on things you already do well isn't the way to improve. You have to work on the things you can't do yet.

This is very similar to some of Carol Dweck's teachings in math.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2803328 01/17/19 11:24 PM
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Ok. Getting back to the metronome.....

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
TimR #2803442 01/18/19 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by TimR
...I sometimes wonder about piano teachers, forced to listen all day to students who stumble and stutter to various degrees. How do they keep their own time skills?



I wonder how they keep their sanity!

Sorry keystring, I couldn't resist. Now back to the metronome.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2803491 01/18/19 10:46 AM
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I am one who find a metronome useful for a number of reasons.

I don't know any of my brass playing peers who don't use them at least occasionally during their practice.

Quite often when the metronome is discussed there are a few people who are very opposed to any use, and sometimes the conversation develops a moralistic flavor, as if the use was somehow sinful or reprehensible. The most common reason given is that it develops mechanical inexpressive playing. There really isn't any evidence for that. Some of the other hazards suggested may have more validity, such as the one about becoming dependent on it.

There is one common use among beginners that I am very opposed to: the incremental speedup. Set the metronome to 80, play your scale 100 times, move it up to 81, rinse, repeat. You'll be at 500 bpm speed in no time! As logical as it sounds, it doesn't work and is counterproductive, but almost every beginner invents it on their own if they haven't been told to do it by somebody who should know better.

Oh. One other use for the phone app. Mine has a tap function, as do some of the inexpensive electronic ones. So I can pull up a youtube video of a performer doing some concerto, etc., and tap the metronome along with the playing. The metronome will read out the beats per minute of my tapping.

There is another topic even more controversial - tapping the foot!


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2803550 01/18/19 12:49 PM
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I, and my wife, use a metronome (iPad based) many times daily. It is extremely useful. But out of a 5 hour teaching session and a 3 hour practice session, it might be used for a total of 1 minute.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2804018 01/19/19 02:49 PM
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I find it good, not to teach me how to play in time, but to assist in learning a technical passage that I can't play. I set the metronome slowly, then gradually increment it up. The purpose of which is to stop me from playing the bits I can play too fast and then slowing down on the hard bits, which is all too common. It also helps you remember the speed that you achieved the day before.

It exposes what you can and can't play, in a way, and shows you the weak spots.

I too don't really subscribe to the claim that it makes one play metronomically, I would say if this is the case, then it indicates that one is playing without thinking.

I think that if you can play along with a metronome, then you should be able to play with rubato, etc. - In other words, the transition from playing in time to playing out of time is a lot easier than doing it the other way around. The claim that one should play with rubato is all too easily used to cover up the fact that one can't actually play in time.

So it's a kind of measuring tool in a way,it will tell you at what tempo you can proficiently play something without rubato interfering with that. But of course, this is not the way you would actually "play" the piece.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
Zaphod #2804031 01/19/19 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Zaphod
I find it good, not to teach me how to play in time, but to assist in learning a technical passage that I can't play. I set the metronome slowly, then gradually increment it up. The purpose of which is to stop me from playing the bits I can play too fast and then slowing down on the hard bits, which is all too common.

For me, that would ring alarm bells that the student doesn't have a good sense of pulse - when he slows down for the difficult bits and speeds up on the easy bits without realising it.

I really think you're over-using the metronome......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
bennevis #2804084 01/19/19 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

For me, that would ring alarm bells that the student doesn't have a good sense of pulse - when he slows down for the difficult bits and speeds up on the easy bits without realising it.


It's the "without realising it" bit that you're getting wrong. In a student that hasn't already got a sense of pulse, I would not suggest a metronome replacement. However, it's the student that cheats by deliberately slowing down for a difficult technical passage that I'm talking about. Sometimes using the excuse of "rubato" to justify this.

I personally use a metronome to develop speed, not to replace rhythm. Although I might flick it on quickly to get the rough tempo of a new piece, but that will only be for a couple of seconds. It's a very specific thing I use the metronome for. Some people don't realise that the metronome has a few uses.

However, your statement is correct internally - metronome should not become a crutch to rely on in order to develop a solid pulse. Perhaps new students should be encouraged not to use it so much until they develop a good internal clock.

For example, I have a beginner pupil. We hardly ever use the metronome. But in my own practise, I use it for the above reason, so perhaps it's a tool that comes in later in one's advancement.

Originally Posted by bennevis
I really think you're over-using the metronome......


That's rather a shot-in-the-dark statement to make, considering you have no information about the structure of my practise. Care to explain?

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
Zaphod #2804094 01/19/19 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Zaphod

Originally Posted by bennevis
I really think you're over-using the metronome......


That's rather a shot-in-the-dark statement to make, considering you have no information about the structure of my practise. Care to explain?

This was what you posted - about yourself:

I find it good, not to teach me how to play in time, but to assist in learning a technical passage that I can't play. I set the metronome slowly, then gradually increment it up. The purpose of which is to stop me from playing the bits I can play too fast and then slowing down on the hard bits, which is all too common.

You were writing in the first person, and I replied accordingly.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2804106 01/19/19 06:19 PM
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Every year when I write comments for student performances--whether it's at a competition or for a piano exam--I always hesitate before writing a comment about using the metronome. There are actually teachers around here who are adamant about NOT using the metronome, for ANY reason. They think that using a metronome is detrimental to rhythm. One of my colleagues actually got a complaint for writing "You need to practice with a metronome."

I would much rather hear a performance that is 100% metronomic than a performance that fluctuates tempo capriciously. Some students have absolutely no sense of pulse, and when you couple that with a teacher who does not believe in using a metronome, then you get these performance with wild swings of tempo and erratic rhythms.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2804143 01/19/19 07:46 PM
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A while back I suggested that it is not a matter of whether to use the metronome, but when, why, and HOW. Maybe if I make it shorter, it will be easier to catch.

You get students playing with these fluctuations, and write "use a metronome". But there are people who play with the thing clicking and still have horrid timing. What about the "how and why" (and when)?

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
bennevis #2804144 01/19/19 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

This was what you posted - about yourself:

I find it good, [i]not to teach me how to play in time, but to assist in learning a technical passage that I can't play. I set the metronome slowly, then gradually increment it up. The purpose of which is to stop me from playing the bits I can play too fast and then slowing down on the hard bits, which is all too common. [/i]

You were writing in the first person, and I replied accordingly.


I thought this was quite clear, according to the bit at the beginning which I've bolded. The ultimate goal of which is to achieve the bit that you bolded. The metronome is used to highlight the fluctuations, but not used in order to teach one a steady pulse.

Perhaps this particular way of using a metronome is a slightly alien concept to those who choose not to use one? I have noticed this often gets misinterpreted.

Originally Posted by keystring
A while back I suggested that it is not a matter of whether to use the metronome, but when, why, and HOW. Maybe if I make it shorter, it will be easier to catch.

You get students playing with these fluctuations, and write "use a metronome". But there are people who play with the thing clicking and still have horrid timing. What about the "how and why" (and when)?


I think the technique of using a metronome, certainly that I am thinking of, is a technique that is used once one is capable of achieving a steady pulse without one. I think it would be a necessary requirement to have enough natural pulse that one can play in time with a metronome before one uses one for speed training. It should not be used as a crutch, but rather as a tool.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?
DDobs #2804181 01/19/19 09:48 PM
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I cannot imagine using the metronome for "speed training", though maybe I sort of do. I was trying to open it to a much more general idea. When there is a tool, you want to have a purpose, think of various ways you can use that tool for those purposes - not just flick it on and hope it will somehow help with something somehow.

This was also to AZNpiano. If you were to suggest working with a metronome, would the student and that student's teacher necessarily know how, when, and why to use it? If the teacher is allowing the kids to play with these wild fluctuations, is pulse even on the teacher's radar. Is there a: how, why, and when to metronome use?

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