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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: DDobs] #2804191
01/19/19 10:46 PM
01/19/19 10:46 PM
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If you play with the metronome carefully so as to make the click disappear, you must do it with internal pulse. You cannot react fast enough to play precisely enough (thank you prout) by depending on it.

The incremental speedup technique zaphod describes is dangerous for a beginner.

But his point about varying speed without realizing it is hard to overemphasize. To learn to hear that happening you need feedback. You can get it from recording yourself but the metronome is more immediate.

One example that points this out is when the music calls for short sections of rapid notes, then a long section. Something like maybe Wachet Auf, or for recorder the Telemann in F. Series of 4 sixteenth notes are easy, then you run into 12 in a row. And slow down without realizing it. I would use the metronome to check evenness and steady speed.

The exercise Garcia does with longer and longer duration between ticks is a good way to calibrate internal pulse, too.


gotta go practice
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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: TimR] #2804193
01/19/19 10:52 PM
01/19/19 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
The incremental speedup technique zaphod describes is dangerous for a beginner.

Not in my experience.

I honestly don't understand how some of my colleagues put up with wild fluctuations of tempo. It would drive me mad.

I would rather train a student to play like a robot, hitting every single note on time without one ounce of musicality. It's the lesser of two evils.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: keystring] #2804194
01/19/19 10:55 PM
01/19/19 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
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?

I certainly know how. I'm not sure my colleagues here (the ones who are adamant about NOT using the metronome) know how.

Really, when I hesitate to write such comments, it's because the tempo fluctuations are SO out of control, It is very possible these students just don't have any sense of pulse, and they will never gain any sense of pulse--metronome or no metronome. The fact that I write down "You need to practice with a metronome" means the student played horribly.

Maybe they should try singing. Solo.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: TimR] #2804214
01/20/19 12:21 AM
01/20/19 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by TimR

There is one common use among beginners that I am very opposed to: the incremental speedup.


Sort of lines up with what I'm saying.

Beginners should have a quick go on the metronome for a few seconds from time to time to whip them back into some kind of semblance of in-time playing. Also can be used to indicate tempo of piece.

More advanced - can use for the speed-up technique. If that's your bag. It's here that it gets used much more than the beginner stuff.

Interestingly, mechanical metronomes, they can drive you crazy after a bit. However, obviously that's all there's been until recent years. I personally use the one in Pianoteq and just adjust the volume so it's quite faint. The electronic ones made a few simultaneous improvements on the mechanical ones.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: AZNpiano] #2804237
01/20/19 03:34 AM
01/20/19 03:34 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
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?

I certainly know how. I'm not sure my colleagues here (the ones who are adamant about NOT using the metronome) know how.

You know how. And your students probably don't have those problems, because you would not allow it to happen.

When at an event you see students with wildly fluctuating tempos, their teachers are not guiding them in that respect. Teaching is more than having a tool thrown at you: you also have to know how to use it and why it's being used, to what end. You might still end up with the same sad results.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: AZNpiano] #2804238
01/20/19 03:44 AM
01/20/19 03:44 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
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?

I certainly know how. I'm not sure my colleagues here (the ones who are adamant about NOT using the metronome) know how.

Really, when I hesitate to write such comments, it's because the tempo fluctuations are SO out of control, It is very possible these students just don't have any sense of pulse, and they will never gain any sense of pulse--metronome or no metronome. The fact that I write down "You need to practice with a metronome" means the student played horribly.

Maybe they should try singing. Solo.


Maybe the teachers just have to give up on some students? I have a friend who has played the piano longer than I (must be almost 10 years). Her pulse is all over the place. She would need to count but absolutely refuses to do it when practicing her pieces. She knows how to because we practiced that. We even did clapping exercises at some point. She got a metronome but does not use it because it would require to do the same as counting: Analyze and understand the note values and meter exactly first. She refuses to do that and just keeps practicing with the pulse all over the place. When I try to make her say or practice a tiny section with the correct beats and pulse she locks up. I can imagine her teacher has tried too. She would never agree to sing either. Yet she keeps at the piano and enjoys playing her own way...

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: DDobs] #2804242
01/20/19 04:13 AM
01/20/19 04:13 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.


You can be sure , that this is so: in the African community, rhythm is the result of collective action, and the rhythmic feeling of each individual carries the rhythm of the whole community. The metronome is not exist there at all . It is terrible to think how many teachers simply do not know it !!


By the way, I do not understand the fact that it is easier for someone to play more precisely, looking at the metronome: do strings in the orchestra play exactly together, because they look at the movements of bows from each other? And for example, I perceive the flashing of the metronome stretched out and belatedly .

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: AZNpiano] #2804290
01/20/19 09:30 AM
01/20/19 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano


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.


Agree. For most students not playing in time is a much greater problem than playing mechanically. Indeed, in order to play with tasteful rubato, letting the music breathe naturally, one has to be aware of the underlying pulse.

The internal sense of pulse can be distorted by the physical sensations of playing the instrument, so we need an external pulse to counteract this effect. As others have stated here, the metronome is just one tool you can use. Tools used without skill will produce poor results, but I don't agree with these blanket statements saying never use a metronome or that using one will lead to unmusical playing.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: DDobs] #2804326
01/20/19 11:44 AM
01/20/19 11:44 AM
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I just want to add that playing in time with the metronome does not mean the playing cannot be expressive. I don't use it a lot--just occasionally to check tempo or make sure I'm not altering tempo without meaning to. My playing doesn't suddenly become "mechanical" just because it's in rhythm. Ok, I rein in the rubato a bit, but because the metronome is just matching the internal pulse, it's not so dramatically different.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: Nahum] #2804648
01/21/19 10:28 AM
01/21/19 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
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.


You can be sure , that this is so: in the African community, rhythm is the result of collective action, and the rhythmic feeling of each individual carries the rhythm of the whole community.


I think two things are happening.

One is more group ensemble playing in that community.

The other is that much more practice is done at tempo, even if the student can't keep up perfectly at first.


gotta go practice
Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: pianist_lady] #2804649
01/21/19 10:29 AM
01/21/19 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by pianist_lady
Originally Posted by AZNpiano


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.


Agree. For most students not playing in time is a much greater problem than playing mechanically. Indeed, in order to play with tasteful rubato, letting the music breathe naturally, one has to be aware of the underlying pulse.

The internal sense of pulse can be distorted by the physical sensations of playing the instrument, so we need an external pulse to counteract this effect. As others have stated here, the metronome is just one tool you can use. Tools used without skill will produce poor results, but I don't agree with these blanket statements saying never use a metronome or that using one will lead to unmusical playing.

I am asking teachers in general here and very seriously - Given all your ideas regarding 'metronomic playing' as opposed to 'capricious tempo fluctuations', at what point do you allow the student to take control of the music and express themselves? Do we ban their exposure to extreme performanc examples of a work, even if the composer him or herself is the performer?



Last edited by prout; 01/21/19 10:30 AM.
Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: prout] #2804722
01/21/19 02:43 PM
01/21/19 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by prout

I am asking teachers in general here and very seriously - Given all your ideas regarding 'metronomic playing' as opposed to 'capricious tempo fluctuations', at what point do you allow the student to take control of the music and express themselves?


I would suggest to them that at the point that they can play reasonably in time, then they can "express themselves" if by "express themselves" you mean play out of time. In the meantime, perhaps they could use dynamic, phrasing, and tone to express themselves. I would also warn them that not being able to play in time does not equal self expression, although it may be tempting to pass it off as such. However, employing rubato when one has first learnt to play in time is a different matter.

Originally Posted by prout
Do we ban their exposure to extreme performanc examples of a work, even if the composer him or herself is the performer?


It's a little difficult to "ban" such a thing for two reason :

1 : We live in a free society.
2 : Such recordings are available for anyone to see on YouTube.

The main message I would get across to the student would play to first learn to play in time, then once this has been achieved, learn to play out of time. Not the other way around. However, ultimately as the paying customer, it is up to the student whether they take this advice or not.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: Zaphod] #2804740
01/21/19 03:41 PM
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I work principally as a collaborative musician, in a variety of genres, mostly HIP baroque, but also music theatre and a bit of jazz. As musicians playing HIP, we have a very tight ensemble, but with lots of dynamics, phrasings, articulations and even rubato. As musicians playing music theatre, we play pretty strict time, but the singers may be anywhere from an 1/8th out to several beats out of time with us, because they are emoting and using speech rhythms, and they need us to be 'in time' so they know where they are. This all works and both are musical.

As a solo musician, it would seem that earlier eras allowed performance practice that included rather extreme fluctuations in tempo, whereas, today, we criticize the pianist who emotes excessively.

For me, I spend most of my time coaching more advanced students (I don't teach ab initio) how to loosen up and play musicially, instead of metromically. I could say that their early teachers gave them a great grounding in rhythm, but forgot to allow them to be free to be musical.

But you are right that students need to understand what 'in time' is before being able to know how to play 'out of time'.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: prout] #2804742
01/21/19 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by prout
I am asking teachers in general here and very seriously - Given all your ideas regarding 'metronomic playing' as opposed to 'capricious tempo fluctuations', at what point do you allow the student to take control of the music and express themselves? Do we ban their exposure to extreme performance examples of a work, even if the composer him or herself is the performer?


Thoughts:

By chance, I looked at original performances by Debussy a month ago, as a student, and discussed this with my teacher - with several, in fact, but mainly with my own teacher. I don't actually see any kind of conflict. As a first step you learn to play the music quite literally and dryly, especially as a student, in order to have the notes and basic timing down fact. At this point it is probably rather "metronomic" and initially not up to speed. You then look to interpretation. You use your understanding of music, the period, the genre, and the composer. You also listen to what good pianists have done with the piece, not in order to imitate, but to see why they did what. The original work with solid dry timing and steady pulse is an underpinning to this, not a conflict with it. imho. That is my thought.

I learned that Debussy tried to counter the "Teutonic" (oppression?) of strict meter. At the same time he was very much against the wild rubato excesses of the era he was in. One is pulled in two directions. Listening to a collection of "Debussy plays Debussy" (not just that piece, but all of them) you will hear various things. Wouldn't a student discuss and explore these with their teacher? If you listen to such performances with guidance and understanding doesn't just add to the student's growth, rather than becoming a license to wild pulse-less rubato? Is there some kind of underlying rhythm to Debussy's playing even if it sounds odd to modern ears: how is it from piece to piece? What role does the recording machinery play, if piano roll (I remember that being discussed somewhere)? Were there different performance standards back then - was the piano different in construct - etc.? I imagine that teachers would see learning opportunities, rather than trying to censor what their students hear -- but it would be with guidance.

Teachers?

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: DDobs] #2804769
01/21/19 05:04 PM
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The whole thread is illogical. It's not a matter of if but of WHEN.

Any advanced student who can't play with a metronome has serious problems, and in fact is not truly advanced, because you can't be advanced with such a huge hole.

Any advanced student who can't play WITHOUT a metronome is, for the same reason, not really advanced.

Until we agree on this, we can agree on nothing, and the whole thread is a waste of time.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: keystring] #2804774
01/21/19 05:18 PM
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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)?

Nope. People here don't pay attention. If you write something intelligent and to the point, it will be ignored as if you are an idiot writing nonsense.

You are correct.

The metronome is a tool, a valuable one. If you are smart, you don't leave a tool in your toolkit and then ignore it when it has a use.

You also won't use it for the wrong purpose, and that's when it becomes a problem.

A metronome is like a crutch, or a sling, or a cane, or any one of countless things that are invaluable at the right time. Of COURSE they can be overused and then they cause harm. But that has nothing to do with the crutch, which is very necessary at the right time - when needed.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: prout] #2804784
01/21/19 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by prout

I am asking teachers in general here and very seriously - Given all your ideas regarding 'metronomic playing' as opposed to 'capricious tempo fluctuations', at what point do you allow the student to take control of the music and express themselves?

Good question, and I believe elsewhere you said you don't teach beginners. Do I have that right?

If you work with small children and beginning adults, you see patterns. One is on beat per note, any note. There is a kind of pulse, but an 8th and a quarter will get the same general pulse. This is vexing, but also common and rather normal.

You have to do a lot of work to get people to subdivide, the idea being that a quarter has two mini-pules when there are 8ths, or 4 if there are 16ths. It is necessary for beginners to understand how this works, and it's not easy to teach. So theoretically you can count from 1 to 16 in a 4/4 bar with 16ths - although for several reasons that will not work well, one being that it gets hard when a number has two or three syllables - seventeen and 21 have three, if you go on.

What we do is this:

1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, which of course can be any counting system or scat. Then 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and, or any similar thing.

Then 1 e + a, 2 e + a, 3 e + a, 4 e + a

The problem is that a beginner will not understand the concept of "4 beats" unless you eventually clap on the numbers, or put on a metronome and demonstrate. I teach it as "16 things", meaning that any symbol, 1, e, and, uh is a "count", and that "counts" don't have to be round numbers. Then we decide how we are going to feel these counts. You might actually feel a pules on every 16th in something that is going incredibly slowly, and feeling 8 would not be unusual. But it could also be only 2, in cut time or in something going very, very fast.

In a Chopin Scherzo, for the most part I feel only one pulse per measure and in my mind every 4 measures are really just one measure - this, by the way, makes it very easy for students to get the rhythm.

Cutting to the chase: You HAVE to have a steady pulse, and you HAVE to understand why. In your more "commercial" work, with the free time used by singers, you understand very well why the back-up has to be rock solid. That's what most people don't get. You are 100% correct.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: Gary D.] #2804803
01/21/19 06:52 PM
01/21/19 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by prout

I am asking teachers in general here and very seriously - Given all your ideas regarding 'metronomic playing' as opposed to 'capricious tempo fluctuations', at what point do you allow the student to take control of the music and express themselves?

Good question, and I believe elsewhere you said you don't teach beginners. Do I have that right?
I have not taught beginners.

Quote
If you work with small children and beginning adults, you see patterns. One is on beat per note, any note. There is a kind of pulse, but an 8th and a quarter will get the same general pulse. This is vexing, but also common and rather normal.
My wife gets this a lot from adult singers.

Quote
You have to do a lot of work to get people to subdivide, the idea being that a quarter has two mini-pules when there are 8ths, or 4 if there are 16ths. It is necessary for beginners to understand how this works, and it's not easy to teach. So theoretically you can count from 1 to 16 in a 4/4 bar with 16ths - although for several reasons that will not work well, one being that it gets hard when a number has two or three syllables - seventeen and 21 have three, if you go on.
Years ago, H. Somers wrote some wondeful arrangements of Newfoundland folk songs. One was in fast 7/8 time and the 'conductor' was counting out loud "One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Se-Ven, One, Two...". A bit of a disaster for the choir. A suggestion was made to change the word "Se-ven" to the French "Sept" and the problem was solved.

Quote
What we do is this:

1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, which of course can be any counting system or scat. Then 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and, or any similar thing.

Then 1 e + a, 2 e + a, 3 e + a, 4 e + a

The problem is that a beginner will not understand the concept of "4 beats" unless you eventually clap on the numbers, or put on a metronome and demonstrate. I teach it as "16 things", meaning that any symbol, 1, e, and, uh is a "count", and that "counts" don't have to be round numbers. Then we decide how we are going to feel these counts. You might actually feel a pules on every 16th in something that is going incredibly slowly, and feeling 8 would not be unusual. But it could also be only 2, in cut time or in something going very, very fast.

In a Chopin Scherzo, for the most part I feel only one pulse per measure and in my mind every 4 measures are really just one measure - this, by the way, makes it very easy for students to get the rhythm.
I am in awe of your patience and your approach, and I mean that with the greatest of respect.

Quote
Cutting to the chase: You HAVE to have a steady pulse, and you HAVE to understand why. In your more "commercial" work, with the free time used by singers, you understand very well why the back-up has to be rock solid. That's what most people don't get. You are 100% correct.
I sometimes get close to the observed reality.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: DDobs] #2804822
01/21/19 08:22 PM
01/21/19 08:22 PM
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Someone said this thread was a complete waste of time. I disagree, as I'm the OP and have gleaned some insight from people's comments. Also, while I do search the archives from time to time, sometimes I forget - so if you've said something before, and I've missed it, don't take it personally.


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Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? [Re: prout] #2804850
01/21/19 09:59 PM
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Posts: 608
Originally Posted by prout
One was in fast 7/8 time and the 'conductor' was counting out loud "One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Se-Ven, One, Two...".


Reminds me of a time when I was a kid, and was playing electric guitar, me and a couple of mates were having the obligatory "Blues jam" - now as we know, blues is in 6/8 or 3/4 or "Three time" or whatever (for the layman).

Took us about two hours to teach this to the drummer.

"It's in three time, count us in..."

"Ok.... two.. three.. four..."

"No, it's in three time"

"Ok... two... three... four"....

etc.

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