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Internal Beat
#2889025 09/10/19 04:31 PM
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I had a good piano lesson today. I really worked extra hard on one song and she really noticed. smile I have trouble sometimes, keeping a steady beat. My teacher said I don't have an internal beat. She is going to look into what she might find that could help me with this. Does anyone have any suggestions that might help? I have used the metronome and while this helps me keep a steady beat, it needs to come from within me.
I would like to play from lead sheets someday, so I could play in my church's worship group, if I don't die before that goal is realized. All kidding aside, in order to do that you have to feel the beat.

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Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2889043 09/10/19 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by PatG
I have trouble sometimes, keeping a steady beat. My teacher said I don't have an internal beat.

I have used the metronome and while this helps me keep a steady beat, it needs to come from within me.

You are right - you can't rely on an external beat to keep you right. You can't play to a click track playing through earphones all the time.

Have you ever counted beats aloud while playing, when you're learning a piece? I do mean aloud: "One, two, three, four" or "One and two and three and four and..." for quadruple time.

It's not too late to start. Start with pieces you already know well. Play them slowly, while counting regularly - aloud. Real loud to ensure everything is correct and regular.

This video shows a pro doing just that with an advanced piece:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK8pzcjzUXE


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Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2889060 09/10/19 05:52 PM
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Both using a metronome and counting out loud will help you 'train' your inner beat. It might take some time, but you don't have much choice--there aren't any good short cuts. Count out loud but also use the metronome on a regular basis to keep yourself honest. It is easy to let your counting become quite--shall we say--flexible without some external re-inforcement to keep things on track.

My biggest problem with counting out loud is that I fade out after several measures. I continue counting to myself, but the out loud part goes away.


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Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2889101 09/10/19 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by PatG
. . . have used the metronome and while this helps me keep a steady beat, it needs to come from within me.

I would like to play from lead sheets someday, so I could play in my church's worship group, if I don't die before that goal is realized. All kidding aside, in order to do that you have to feel the beat.


FWIW (I don't teach) --

Playing from lead sheets, and playing with the worship group, are both worthwhile goals.

You say you've used a metronome:

. . . When you have a metronome running, are you comfortable playing along with it ? Or do you fall "out of time"
. . . . . occasionally, or eventually ?

. . . Have you tried playing to a rhythm backing track? Most digital pianos can provide such sounds.
. . . . . Are you comfortable with that ?

I'm asking because in a group, it's the job of the bass and drummer to keep the beat steady:

. . . In case of a disagreement between your internal beat, and the drummer's beat, the drummer should win.

Otherwise, you won't get invited back.<g>

Something else you might try:

. . . . Start the metronome, and play scales:

. . . . . One note per click,
. . . . . . Two _even_ notes per click;
. . . . . . . three _even_ notes per click;
. . . . . . . . four _even_ notes per click

Then try patterns -- an eighth note and two sixteenths, etc -- fitting each pattern into one click.

If you want confirmation of evenness, record your playing and listen to it. It's amazing (and disturbing) how much you don't hear, when you're busy playing.

It helps to have a metronome that will accent (or use a different pitch) for the downbeat. Most electronic metronomes will do that, and there are lots of free smartphone apps.

If you can find a local drum circle -- a group of hand-drum players, with a leader -- try drumming with it. Finding, and keeping, "the pulse" is a critical skill, and playing hand drums (with lots of other drummers) is a good way to develop it.

I think I'm just reinforcing what you and your teacher already know:

. . . Getting a steady "internal beat" is a _learned skill_.

. . . One of the ways to develop it, is to get used to following a steady "external beat".



Last edited by Charles Cohen; 09/10/19 07:56 PM.

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Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2889103 09/10/19 08:04 PM
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To internalize the beat, you need to get physical.

Many people make the mistake of trying to do it mentally, typically while listening to a metronome and simultaneously trying to play and count all at once. However, the counting and the listening to the beat are 2 unfamiliar additional balls juggle. And they are fighting the erratic tempo habits already cemented into that piece.

First, start by working at tempo control all by itself, not while playing the piano. Its like you would not be very successful learning how to program the radio in your new car while zooming down the interstate. Grow into the internal beat as a separate project, then add the playing of the piano.

Find a song with a strong beat, 4/4 time, such a Jingle Bells. Play a recording of it while, away from the piano, you count OUT LOUD (shouting is good) and physically move with the beat, by clapping firmly as you count, moving your body from one foot to the other, dancing, marching in place, etc.

After a few days of doing that, try playing the song slowly while counting out loud. If you find yourself fading away and whispering the beat after a measure or two, you have not internalized it, or you are trying to apply it to a song too difficult for you. The whispering is a clue that your brain is scrambling to keep up rather than relying on a learned habit.

So go back and pound it into your thinking. Sometimes it takes a while, but this is how I overcame that problem.

Second, it is difficult to apply counting / tempo control to a piece of music that you have learned minus counting and tempo control. Its like you learned a long series of tempo / rhythm mistakes, and now the counting etc. is both trying to overcome and overwrite the previous learning, while simultaneously learning the new skill of counting and hearing the beat. Too much overload.

Start with a new fresh piece, once you feel comfortable with the First step above. And go slow and give your brain time to grow into this new thing. Sometimes it takes a while.

Best wishes.


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Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2889119 09/10/19 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by PatG
My teacher said I don't have an internal beat. .



I wouldn't agree with this, but I do think our own internal beat is easily put off when trying to do so much at once. For that reason working on the issue has been important for me. Lots of clapping exercises, and counting in general at every opportunity.


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Re: Internal Beat
Charles Cohen #2889299 09/11/19 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
If you can find a local drum circle -- a group of hand-drum players, with a leader -- try drumming with it. Finding, and keeping, "the pulse" is a critical skill, and playing hand drums (with lots of other drummers) is a good way to develop it.

+1. I think drumming is the best way to improve internal beat. The thing is that it's difficult to focus on rhythm and to play correct notes simultaneously, so in order to improve rhythm it's better to focus solely on rhythm. No drum is required actually, you can just tap with your palms on the table top or on a can. What helped me a lot in that matter is playing pieces on a table top with my fingers. And in fact I enjoy playing on a table top very much.

Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2889358 09/11/19 04:49 PM
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the OP might also look into buying ''The Rhythm Bible'' by Dan Fox (get version with CD). When I was struggling with more complex rhythms I found this book of exercises very useful.


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Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2889979 09/13/19 01:17 PM
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I want to thank everyone for your great suggestions!
bennevis - I don't normally count out loud. So that is something to work on and thanks for the link to Josh Wright's video. I have watched many of his videos in the past, but not that one.
Stubbie - I haven't used the metronome and counted out loud. I see where this will keep your counting steady throughout the piece.
Charles Cohen - You gave me several things to try. No I've never used my digital piano with a rhythm backing track. I'll have to figure out how to do that. I'll try doing scales the way you suggested. I have recorded myself and yes it many times is disturbing. I do have a iPhone metronome with many features. If the music is in 4/4 time and there are eighth notes I have to set it to 8/4 time so it's ticking on the &'s too.
rocket88 - I went on Youtube and found a children's singing video of Christmas songs and counted out loud as I listened. I thought that went pretty good but I forgot to get physical. Next time I'll clap too. Yes, I understand what you mean by overload.
earlofmar - clapping and counting, I also looked at the Rhythm Bible on Amazon. It looks very interesting. I might buy it, but first I want to see what my piano teacher comes up with.
Iaroslay Vasiliev - I do have a drum that I have used to help 2 of my grandchildren with rhythm as I teach them the piano, but haven't used it myself. I even have rhythm exercises for them to do. I should have done them too. Guess it's not too late to start.

Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2890060 09/13/19 05:50 PM
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Grab an ipod and earphones, go out and do a military walk making sure each footstep is on the downbeat.

Re: Internal Beat
rocket88 #2890128 09/14/19 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by rocket88
To internalize the beat, you need to get physical.

I agree completely, but I take the advice a big step further. When I was 14 y o, I took ballroom dance classes: foxtrot, tango, waltz, cha-cha-cha, rumba, pasodoble. It greatly improved my feeling for rhythm and my free dancing when pop songs were played! So learn rhythms by dancing! smile


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Re: Internal Beat
Animisha #2890129 09/14/19 12:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by rocket88
To internalize the beat, you need to get physical.

I agree completely, but I take the advice a big step further. When I was 14 y o, I took ballroom dance classes: foxtrot, tango, waltz, cha-cha-cha, rumba, pasodoble. It greatly improved my feeling for rhythm and my free dancing when pop songs were played! So learn rhythms by dancing! smile

Wow. That is so cool! I've always felt embarrassed about my dancing and lack of any sense of rhythm on the dance floor. But I am no alone in being rhythmless! smile



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Re: Internal Beat
Animisha #2890131 09/14/19 01:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by rocket88
To internalize the beat, you need to get physical.

I agree completely, but I take the advice a big step further. When I was 14 y o, I took ballroom dance classes: foxtrot, tango, waltz, cha-cha-cha, rumba, pasodoble. It greatly improved my feeling for rhythm and my free dancing when pop songs were played! So learn rhythms by dancing! smile

+1 thumb (to both quotes). And it works in both directions. My girlfriend and I manage a small dance studio, she told me that my musicality has improved quite a bit since I re-started piano, and vice versa, she can tell in my piano playing if I've been dancing during the day. One commonality between dance and piano - the physical / mental preparation before the beat is of paramount importance, almost as important as hitting the beat itself.


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Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2890132 09/14/19 01:10 AM
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I always think it's a shame how dancing does not have a more prominent role in modern Western society. It's something children do naturally, and along with singing, it remains an integral part of life in countless cultures in the world at all ages.

Last edited by johnstaf; 09/14/19 01:11 AM.
Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2890160 09/14/19 05:13 AM
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a couple more suggestions form me to target poor rhythm. Both of which involve playing along with your piece. Although this can be incredibly difficult at first, it seems a skill worth doing.

1. As we have recently discussed here on this forum. This well known youtubber has a vast collection of pieces and playing along with them has really helped me. Jane has also turned around a few of my own requests in a matter of days, so you cannot get better than that.

2. I also like to use the free music notation program Musescore, which for the more well known pieces you can sometimes find a complete version in the community. The added benefit here is being able to set the tempo and so practice at different speeds. A good example of this is that after a less than good lesson last week where my timing was out, I have written out quite a chunk of my piece. I found out exactly what my teacher was telling me, that I was taking pauses in a couple of sections I didn't even realise I was doing. I don't have a computer at my piano, so I set the Muscore file to play while I have Audacity record it. By saving the recording as an mp3 I then load it onto my phone.


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Re: Internal Beat
johnstaf #2890201 09/14/19 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I always think it's a shame how dancing does not have a more prominent role in modern Western society. It's something children do naturally, and along with singing, it remains an integral part of life in countless cultures in the world at all ages.



Yes, it really is a shame that dancing is not more prominent in Western society.



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Re: Internal Beat
PatG #2890286 09/14/19 01:20 PM
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I used to participate in aerobics, step, and Zumba classes in my gym, as well as the usual Circuits, BodyPump, Boxercise and Khai-Bo classes which are popular with men (and which require no coordination skills or rhythmic acumen wink ).

In the former three classes, I was often the only male in the class, and initially, the women would regard me with suspicion and give me a wide berth, because they didn't want me to knock them down while doing grapevines and sideways jumps etc in the opposite directions to the class grin. It took a while for me to convince them that I did actually have a good sense of rhythm and timing and coordination, and to get accepted as an honorary female......... grin


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