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#2873537 07/28/19 03:14 PM
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Heya,

I've been assigned some music. A fun Clementi Sonatina.

This one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL1hFw0_J7o

So far it's quite easy. However, I'm only allowed to play when counting out loud. 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4. This makes everything much harder, especially when changing from 8th to 16th notes. I can easily play some pasages without counting, but not while counting. My teacher wants me to have a better rhytmic feel before we move on to more complex sonata's.

Any tips of how to better do this? Should I count + Metronome, or without? Should I count in 16th notes instead of 8th?

Last edited by hyena; 07/28/19 03:15 PM.
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Small quibble: it should be 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and.

It's good to learn how to play a note in between the number and the and without resorting to 1 e & a 2 e & a, i.e., counting at the level of eighth notes but playing sixteenths. I find it quite difficult to do, for whatever reason.

Counting out loud is good, too. I have trouble sustaining the out loud part, but do continue to count under my breath. I will also write in the count on difficult measures, at least at the start, same as I'd write in the fingering.


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Originally Posted by hyena
Heya,

I've been assigned some music. A fun Clementi Sonatina.

This one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL1hFw0_J7o

So far it's quite easy. However, I'm only allowed to play when counting out loud. 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4. This makes everything much harder, especially when changing from 8th to 16th notes. I can easily play some pasages without counting, but not while counting. My teacher wants me to have a better rhytmic feel before we move on to more complex sonata's.

Any tips of how to better do this? Should I count + Metronome, or without? Should I count in 16th notes instead of 8th?

Counting in 8th notes makes sense because 1 and 2 and... (etc) - each 'sound' falls on an 8th note, and each number is on a beat (four beats a bar). Don't use a metronome - instead, practice counting with passages in 16th notes so you get the hang of it. Write "1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &" between the staves (for the first twelve bars at least) for practicing purposes so you can see exactly where they are in relation to the notes.

If you've never counted beats aloud before, it will be tricky until you get used to it.


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In another recent thread on counting this was the response from Morodiene (piano teacher and knowledgeable forum poster):

"Actually, it's best to look at the smallest note value of the entire piece, and use that for counting every measure (i.e., if there are any 16ths, you'd count 1e+a 2e+a 3e+a 4e+a throughout). This ensures accuracy when that small note value comes along. Otherwise, a big mistake beginners make is that they only count "ands" when there are 8th notes, and leave them out when no 8th notes are there and inevitably, their quarter notes and 8th notes sound the same."

For your consideration.

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Originally Posted by pwl
In another recent thread on counting this was the response from Morodiene (piano teacher and knowledgeable forum poster):

"Actually, it's best to look at the smallest note value of the entire piece, and use that for counting every measure (i.e., if there are any 16ths, you'd count 1e+a 2e+a 3e+a 4e+a throughout). This ensures accuracy when that small note value comes along. Otherwise, a big mistake beginners make is that they only count "ands" when there are 8th notes, and leave them out when no 8th notes are there and inevitably, their quarter notes and 8th notes sound the same."

For your consideration.

That problem arises because students leave out the 'in between words' when the note values get bigger rather than stick to the same counting method throughout.

When counting (aloud or otherwise), for every single bar, always count in exactly the same way, in exactly the same pulse - even for a full bar of rest.


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Originally Posted by hyena
Heya,

I've been assigned some music. A fun Clementi Sonatina.

This one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL1hFw0_J7o

So far it's quite easy. However, I'm only allowed to play when counting out loud. 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4. This makes everything much harder, especially when changing from 8th to 16th notes. I can easily play some pasages without counting, but not while counting. My teacher wants me to have a better rhytmic feel before we move on to more complex sonata's.

Any tips of how to better do this? Should I count + Metronome, or without? Should I count in 16th notes instead of 8th?


If your teacher wants you to play and count aloud I would practice it like that. I think it is harder than not counting at all for the 16th notes but the fact you struggle means it’s a good exercise. i would fix it by playing a much slower tempo whilst counting aloud. It probably is worth targeting the practising to these harder 16th parts with the counting specifically if that’s the struggle. When you are more confident you can get it up to speed. practice in rhythms can help.

I’m generally not a fan of metronome. I would check if your teacher advises. If she wants you to learn to do this without a metronome I think it’s a good idea. I think counting is better than metronome. counting small increments Im not a great fan. I would normally count the beats and only if I could not manage do I count the 1 and 2 and. To do this I would slow the practice tempo. Counting 1 and a 2 and a etc. Is perhaps more useful for a beginner or if a part is very hard and if you practice the piece very slowly and have to count the smallest beat for evenness.

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I watched the video and at the tempo he's playing I can only count quarter notes. I learned to count 8th notes when I play 8th notes and 16th when I play 16th notes. Basically I count the melody. At first without playing and when I got it right I play and count. For me it's either the metronome or I count loud.



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Serge88, presumably one slows the piece down to a pace where one can count it — especially when first learning a piece, and first learning to count while playing. How much one needs to continue counting as one later increases the tempo, is a separate issue.

I used to count the melody as you describe, but my piano teacher converted me to counting with a steady count, as Morodiene describes. I found the steady count to be much more helpful at helping me root out and correct sections where my tempo/notes were unsteady.


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I found counting 16th notes as 1 e + a to be troublesome, especially at a rapid speed (it’s those soft vowel sounds) - so I tend to “count” 16th notes as “ta ta ta ta”.

But I also found it useful to train the ear with scale exercises to hear basic sub-divisions as rhythmic phrases. One of my daily exercises is to play scales with one hand playing 1/4 notes and the other hand in 8ths, triplets and 16ths. There’s point where the ear internalizes the the sound of those sub-divisions and uses that to keep the scale on track. Overtime this has translated nicely to quickly reading/playing notation.


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Originally Posted by Groove On
I found counting 16th notes as 1 e + a to be troublesome, especially at a rapid speed (it’s those soft vowel sounds) - so I tend to “count” 16th notes as “ta ta ta ta”.


I also find 1 e + a troublesome, to the point that it was not helpful at all. I will have to try "ta ta ta ta".

What has worked very well for me is to use words that have the same number of syllables as the phrase (or logical section of the phrase) in a distinct and basic format. No soft vowel sound words.

A group of four 1/8 notes thus is "Huckleberry"...Some of my students like "Avocado" instead. Very distinct vowels.

This approach has always worked well, even with people who are not all that strong with counting.

I recently had a slightly messy group of six fast 1/8 notes that had to fit in a clearly defined space. My mind kind of fuzzed over while playing that phrase; a sure sign I was out of control there. To play it in public like that therefore was not acceptable.

I found that the word "Overpopulation" fixed it. I just say the word as I play it, easy to remember.

I found that word on an online dictionariy where you can look up words grouped by the number of syllables.


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Originally Posted by rocket88
[...] group of six fast 1/8 notes that had to fit in a clearly defined space.[...]
I found that the word "Overpopulation" fixed it. I just say the word as I play it, easy to remember.
I found that word on an online dictionariy where you can look up words grouped by the number of syllables.


Of course, in normal speech the fifth syllable of "overpopulation" tends to be just slightly longer than the other syllables (with the emphasis on that syllable); make sure that all your syllables are of exactly the same length.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by hyena
So far it's quite easy. However, I'm only allowed to play when counting out loud. 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4. This makes everything much harder


Heya Hyena! It is hard for you, and that is probably why your teacher gave you the assignment. I would trust my teacher, and do it just as they say, because obviously you need this exercise. I also need to work with rhythm and my personal challenge is to play scales with the metronome on half speed - that is, it ticks for every second note instead of every note.

But if you just can't do it, would it help to "cheat-count" with sixteenth notes, if you're Dutch: "e-e ne-e twee-e e-e drie-ie e-e vie-ie re-e" and then switching to "e-ne twee-e drie-e vie-re"?


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Another system for counting sixteenth notes, which I find easier to say than ta-ta-ta-ta, is ti-ka-ti-ka.


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For 16th notes how about eenie, meenie, miney, moe? grin


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Originally Posted by John305
For 16th notes how about eenie, meenie, miney, moe? grin

That’s great if your piece is in 7/8 - but my brain is refusing to calculate how it would fit 16th notes.


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You can just choose the word you want, if it makes is easier for you it is fine, according to my teacher... I use Isabella, which I picked up from a Spanish solfege course.

I play on my digital with earphones, and sing Isabella while learning pieces like Burgmuller's Arabesque, which really tickles my daughter! So Is-Sa_Be_La Isa for the first RH bar of that piece, and the full word for any quarter note. But I use this only when I need to, not as a habit, and only if there are sixteenth notes.

I could never use that e and a, seems too odd to me.

In the end you want to be able to feel the pulse, and these are just tools to get you there.

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I think the main problem is to count and play at the same time?
In that case, I would first tap the difficult passages with the relevant hand before playing them.

Only when I find this to be very easy would I switch to actual playing.

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In an ideal world, all beginners on piano start off counting beats in every 'piece' they learn from day 1, and starting by practicing counting beats while playing the same note in full notes, half notes and then quarter notes so that they aren't having to cope with two things (beat-counting and note-reading) at the same time. That way they get the subdivisions ingrained into their mind, and eventually have no difficulty coping with pieces (like Clementi sonatinas) that have everything from full notes to 16th notes (by which time, they will be - or should be - at least a year or three down the line) without having to count, whether in 16th notes or just 1,2,3,4. Gradual introduction of music with notes of smaller time values (halving them each time) is key to getting everything properly assimilated and thus, second nature.

As you might guess, I'm ranting at some of those adult beginner primers out there, as well as the way some teachers teach (or more accurately, not teach). As I've said before, all music has rhythm, but not all music has melody:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xo97ztKppIw

I remember hearing a child play Mozart's K545 first movement in a BBC Radio show a few years ago, where she played the runs and arpeggios with perfect evenness and musicality. The problem was, she played those RH (and later LH) 16th notes with just a slightly shorter time value than the 8th notes (the LH Alberti bass) that preceded them, nowhere near half. The effect was like suddenly hearing them in slow motion. How did she ever get to such a high technical standard and be allowed to learn this piece without ever having been taught to count beats properly by her teacher? mad

Rant over. Carry on........


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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Another system for counting sixteenth notes, which I find easier to say than ta-ta-ta-ta, is ti-ka-ti-ka.

I would suggest 'ti-ta-ta-ta' or something similar, so you will know where the beat is.

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Originally Posted by hyena

I can easily play some pasages without counting, but not while counting.
Any tips of how to better do this? Should I count + Metronome, or without? Should I count in 16th notes instead of 8th?


Like anything with piano, starting something new is going to take time, a bit of work and a whole lot of patience. The best tip I have, is to tell you not to give in to ''I can't do this'' or '' I can't do that'' . Everything is possible with deliberate slow practice, as every other learner before you has proven. If it seems difficult to play and count now, there will be a day when you cannot play without counting, trust me it's infectious smirk

Perhaps you are struggling because you can already play at a decent pace? Movements 1 & 3 would be too difficult for me to count in 8ths and 16 ths (at speed) but perhaps this isn't the end goal here. I would ask your teacher for further instruction.

BTW. Personally I can't count with a metronome until the notes are very secure, so that tends to wait for quite a while.


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