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Beginner tapping foot with the beat. #2914154 11/20/19 09:02 AM
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Muskellunge Offline OP
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I started piano lessons about a month ago. I'm 6o yrs old and a newbie to piano.

At the 2nd lesson or so, my teacher noticed I was tapping my foot with the beat. He told me I shouldn't really do that. Try to get out of that habit, he said. We haven't discussed it since. He does have me count out the beat out loud while playing.."1-2-3-1-2-3"

Playing guitar, tapping the foot is common, even recommended by many.

I wonder.....Do you as piano instructors recommend beginning students don't tap their foot to the beat? If so. I'm guessing this is because the feet are later used for pedal operation?

Thanks all,
Muskie

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Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Muskellunge] #2914185 11/20/19 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Muskellunge

I wonder.....Do you as piano instructors recommend beginning students don't tap their foot to the beat? If so. I'm guessing this is because the feet are later used for pedal operation?


You got it.

Both hands and both feet are used.....eventually. (Count aloud to keep time, but don't tap your foot. When you've got the beat-counting totally ingrained & internalized in a few months' time, you won't need to count aloud any more, unless you have a rhythmically tricky piece).

Sometimes, other parts of the body are used too, but we'll come to that in ten years' time.


"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: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Muskellunge] #2914224 11/20/19 11:57 AM
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In my opinion. (usual caveat)

It is impossible to keep a steady internal pulse without some body movement. It can be a foot tap, a body lean or sway, full dancing, etc.

Obviously on piano there are some limitations to foot tapping because you need the pedal. Organ is even worse. And organists have the worst sense of time of any musicians I run into, but I think there are other reasons for this.

All of the better musicians I play or sing with do some rhythmic motion.

That said, I also have met people who would tap their feet but not match it to an internal pulse and not sing or play in time. So perhaps it is a necessary but not sufficient condition.


gotta go practice
Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: TimR] #2914233 11/20/19 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
In my opinion. (usual caveat)

It is impossible to keep a steady internal pulse without some body movement. It can be a foot tap, a body lean or sway, full dancing, etc.

Obviously on piano there are some limitations to foot tapping because you need the pedal. Organ is even worse. And organists have the worst sense of time of any musicians I run into, but I think there are other reasons for this.

All of the better musicians I play or sing with do some rhythmic motion.

That said, I also have met people who would tap their feet but not match it to an internal pulse and not sing or play in time. So perhaps it is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

Non-classical musicians learn to keep time with tapping, bobbing etc but not classical musicians. And the latter keep perfect time (without a drummer or click track), except when they don't want to.

An ingrained habit is difficult to break, but it's best to break it before it's ingrained.


"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: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: bennevis] #2914297 11/20/19 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Non-classical musicians learn to keep time with tapping, bobbing etc but not classical musicians.


I don't find that distinction to be true. I guess I would agree non-classical musicians tend to have more motion than classical, but while the movements may be restrained a bit, they exist - for those who keep good time.

Quote
And the latter keep perfect time (without a drummer or click track), except when they don't want to.


The genre does not necessarily imply good time. Classical organists tend to have the worst time, followed by pianists, followed by any musician who functions primarily as a soloist. (as organists and pianists tend to be) Anyone who plays or sings in quality ensembles tends to develop good internal time.

Singers. Sigh. There are people with gorgeous voices who can't count to four.


gotta go practice
Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: TimR] #2914341 11/20/19 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by bennevis
Non-classical musicians learn to keep time with tapping, bobbing etc but not classical musicians.


I don't find that distinction to be true. I guess I would agree non-classical musicians tend to have more motion than classical, but while the movements may be restrained a bit, they exist - for those who keep good time.

Quote
And the latter keep perfect time (without a drummer or click track), except when they don't want to.


The genre does not necessarily imply good time. Classical organists tend to have the worst time, followed by pianists, followed by any musician who functions primarily as a soloist. (as organists and pianists tend to be) Anyone who plays or sings in quality ensembles tends to develop good internal time.

Singers. Sigh. There are people with gorgeous voices who can't count to four.


The first thing that all classical teachers do (or should do) is to get their beginner students to count beats aloud. ALOUD. There is no room for self-consciousness, no room for "I'm an adult, I can keep time, I don't need to count beats, let alone aloud, blah, blah, blah".

Only after the sense of keeping strict time is inculcated and has become second nature should the student be allowed to break free, and start using ritardandi, a little rubato etc for expressive purposes.

Non-classical musicians often don't realize that classical music was, and is, never meant to to be played with rigid timing, unlike jazz, pop etc, and they often confuse rubato with "inability to keep time". (Because they don't do 'expression' in the manner of classical musicians - where pacing, timing of beats (agogic hesitations etc), ritardandi, accelerandi, rallentandi, as well as tonal nuances and dynamic variations and a lot, lot else are all deployed for expressive purposes.) Not even Renaissance music, not Baroque, certainly not Romantic music. After all, a jazz piano player has to keep perfect time with his drummer and bass at all times, even when he swings. A classical pianist - even when he's playing with an orchestra or a chamber ensemble - does rubato together with them. Everyone ebbs & flows together. There is no incessant beat from the percussionist to stop deviation from a fixed tempo, unless they're playing to a click track to accompany a movie scene etc.

So it is a mistake to assess a classical musician's 'timing' from the viewpoint of a jazzer, or of anyone who always has to keep rigid time with his music-making because he has no choice (bell ringing etc).

For evidence, listen to Rachmaninov (by common consent, the last century's greatest pianist) playing Rachmaninov's best known piece:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOx710drHnw

It's evident that he can keep perfect time when he wants to, but he usually doesn't want to.....


"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: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Muskellunge] #2914363 11/20/19 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Muskellunge
I wonder.....Do you as piano instructors recommend beginning students don't tap their foot to the beat? If so. I'm guessing this is because the feet are later used for pedal operation?

Whatever it takes. There are many ways to instill a sense of pulse. You can march or dance to music, if you are inclined to do those activities. Some of my beginner students have very little coordination, so if I ask them to count AND play at the same time, it would be a disaster.

The main idea is to get rhythm internalized. Sometimes that requires teaching away from the piano and focusing solely on making rhythm.


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Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Muskellunge] #2914527 11/21/19 07:05 AM
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When I worked in the symphony orchestra as a violist, the counting of rhythm we did with foot fingers inside shoes.

Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Nahum] #2914535 11/21/19 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
When I worked in the symphony orchestra as a violist, the counting of rhythm we did with foot fingers inside shoes.


Yes. very common, and works well.


gotta go practice
Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: bennevis] #2914540 11/21/19 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
The first thing that all classical teachers do (or should do) is to get their beginner students to count beats aloud. ALOUD. There is no room for self-consciousness, no room for "I'm an adult, I can keep time, I don't need to count beats, let alone aloud, blah, blah, blah".

Only after the sense of keeping strict time is inculcated and has become second nature should the student be allowed to break free, and start using ritardandi, a little rubato etc for expressive purposes.



I want to be careful not to mix three different concepts here.

One is steady internal pulse, which is essential, and sometimes very difficult to teach for those few who just don't get it. I have one student who can count to four, but not four equal beats, even after a couple of years.

The second is rubato, the minor variation from steady tempo. As you point out, the requirements for this vary in different genres. Because of where I usually play, I minimize this in my own playing and singing, except as directed.

The third is executing various rhythms. I am inclined to think we teach this incorrectly. Very simple classical rhythms can be counted, but they are a small subset of the requirements in other genres, and I think counting only works because of the simplicity. Certainly at tempo in ensemble rhythms must be felt and retrieved from memory, not counted, so I'm not sure the emphasis on counting does much.


gotta go practice
Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Nahum] #2914574 11/21/19 09:21 AM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by Nahum
When I worked in the symphony orchestra as a violist, the counting of rhythm we did with foot fingers inside shoes.

Yes, classical musicians have to use all sorts of tricks to count beats, not amounting to foot tapping, finger tapping, or head bobbing.

When I sing in a choir, I often 'count the beats aloud' in my mind during the rests of my vocal part, to ensure I come in at exactly the right time. But when I was a kid singing in the school choir, I sometimes overheard someone mumbling softly "one, two, three" or saw the tapping of a finger or thumb on the sheet music - or even the nodding of a head - during rests......


"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: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Muskellunge] #2914580 11/21/19 09:41 AM
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Well... I hate to disagree with my friend bennevis...

My sense of rhythm stinks. As a teacher, I hate to admit it, but keeping a steady rhythm is the single most difficult aspect of performance for me. This probably goes back to my crazy extremist upbringing, in a cult where having a sense of rhythm was considered sinful. I was actually punished for having a sense of rhythm as a child - yelled at and even beaten.

I tap my feet. I bob my head. I count out loud. Months of doing this, say, on a Bach fugue or Beethoven sonata, will eventually nail down the rhythm for me so that I don't have to any of those external things when I perform. But when I start a new piece, I'm right back to having to count, tap, bob, etc.

When I was a teenager, my exasperated teacher actually encouraged me to tap my feet if it would help me keep the rhythm. Better a tapping foot than practice time wasted on uneven rhythm. Of course I could not do that in front of my mother - she would have yelled at me for physically expressing a rhythm.

This is my curse as a musician.

I agree with TimR that varied rhythms are a separate issue. An example of something that can throw me off is going from a rhythm of triplets over eighth notes to straight sixteenth notes or vice-versa. Ugh! I actually practice that away from piano, clapping my hands, tapping on my desk, making soft noises with my tongue. I find that practice away from the piano is what helps me nail those rhythms.


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Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: bennevis] #2914682 11/21/19 02:32 PM
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Bennevis, I'd like to ask your thoughts on something that arises from what you wrote here:
Originally Posted by bennevis
. After all, a jazz piano player has to keep perfect time with his drummer and bass at all times, even when he swings. A classical pianist - even when he's playing with an orchestra or a chamber ensemble - does rubato together with them. Everyone ebbs & flows together. There is no incessant beat from the percussionist to stop deviation from a fixed tempo, unless they're playing to a click track to accompany a movie scene etc. ..

I've done a lot of counting these last years in my piano studies, which are generally classical. I think my counting is rather decent. I've learned to clap while switching meters at will but keeping the claps steady: /123/123/1234/1234/12345/ etc. I've also learned to do, for example, accelerando while keeping an underlying pulse - how to do an agogic accent shifting a note over from the beat without losing the pulse etc. All that has gone fine.

Recently there was a new piece where something went wrong when I started it on my own, and somehow it led to the metronome. I cannot seem to be able to place my notes on top of the metronome. I recorded on Goldwave, compared the metronome spikes with the piano waves, and I'm ahead by a sliver. I can't hear where I'm off, but can see it on the graph. I've been trying to land smack dab on top of the metronome clicks, and regardless of what approach I take, I rarely can. The closest was when I decided to deliberately play ahead of or behind the beat and "get closer" and started to have more hits than misses. At one point I clicked on a jazzy drum thing with high hat, thinking it will let me "feel" the beat - and turned my Mozart passage into riffs. That actually worked, but it was also no longer Mozart.

What you just said about jazz and drummers and such. What I've been trying to do actually sounds more like the jazz model. When you studied classical, did you, besides counting, also try to play on top of the metronome? Or was it just counting evenly?

The other thing about this is: If I'm in a group, I have to be with the group - with the conductor - so the idea is that if I can't be on top of the metronome, I also can't be in sync with the group. But is it the same? Like, there is a flow or rhythm to when it's played by the group - another thing that you described. So is it the same thing?

I may actually start a thread in a student area on the metronome thing, but this is broader.

Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Dr. Rogers] #2914683 11/21/19 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers

I agree with TimR that varied rhythms are a separate issue. An example of something that can throw me off is going from a rhythm of triplets over eighth notes to straight sixteenth notes or vice-versa. Ugh! I actually practice that away from piano, clapping my hands, tapping on my desk, making soft noises with my tongue. I find that practice away from the piano is what helps me nail those rhythms.


Occasionally I run into a rhythm that is tricky to get the feel of.

One approach that works is to type it into a notation program and hit playback; then I listen to the theoretical perfect execution on a loop.


gotta go practice
Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: keystring] #2914737 11/21/19 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
The closest was when I decided to deliberately play ahead of or behind the beat and "get closer" and started to have more hits than misses.
I did similar exercises in rhythm, but in a different direction: I began to play as accurately as possible with the metronome, which required enhanced listening; then I stopped listening to him, and went on to play in a gradual accelerando, then a gradual ritardando, crossing the pace of the metronome and noting it for myself; and further - till the very slow pace. After that, again, the accelerando to the maximum, etc. A very clear goal was set: to get rid of internal stress as much as possible when trying to catch a metronome; while if you don’t listen to him at all, you are internally free. In the end, any change in pace in any direction from the metronome with periodic synchronization with it does not cause stress, and playing with the metronome feels like a rhythmic unison.

Originally Posted by keystring
At one point I clicked on a jazzy drum thing with high hat, thinking it will let me "feel" the beat - and turned my Mozart passage into riffs. That actually worked, but it was also no longer Mozart.
I’ll tell you where the mistake is: riff primarily reflect the feeling of walking, that is, dividing bar into quarters and, in the case of alla breve, halves . This measurement, of course, is not suitable for the phrasing of Mozart. its agogic changes within a group of bars, which requires a unit of counting one bar or even two bars or more .



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Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Muskellunge] #2914789 11/21/19 07:08 PM
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Muskellunge, tap away I say! Life is too short to be playing out of time. Tap when your teacher isn't around to get the correct timing. Eventually you won't need to, but nothing wrong with doing so until then. Heck, even this guy taps! However, I think you have to wear sandals to get the full effect.


Last edited by Emery Wang; 11/21/19 07:10 PM.

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Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Nahum] #2914793 11/21/19 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
I did similar exercises in rhythm, but in a different direction: I began to play as accurately as possible with the metronome, which required enhanced listening; .....

My first problem is that my ability to hear outside sources was never developed. You have played in groups for a long time, including non-classical (as per Bennevis' distinctions). I was on my own in isolation. When I joined choirs later to get exposure, they were amateurs and I was way ahead of them. They relied on me. I was probably relying on my counting more than following the conductor, whom nobody really knew how to follow anyway.

So: When I play with the metronome on, recording it, I think I'm fine. My teacher will tell me I'm ahead or behind, but I can't hear it. In fact, even when I could hear a wider margin, at first I could not tell whether I was behind or ahead - just that one of us was. That's one reason why I created that exercise.

I then recorded that little Mozart where I thought I was on time mostly, took a screen shot, and marked the clicks with yellow lines. By playing back the file where I knew visually I was ahead by a "sliver" I could start to hear it. So I'm training the hearing. In that screenshot, every wide "early" involves an ornament, which can be played on or before the beat and I was vacillating and thus unsure. I also saw I'm consistently ahead - maybe afraid of being behind.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/f2fl10lm65e3vrj/screenshot.jpg?dl=0

Since then I've also slowed a recording to 50% speed which makes the time difference audible to my weaker hearing. I'm starting to hear it at full tempo. Like you cannot correct weak spots, if you can't detect them.

Quote
I’ll tell you where the mistake is: riff primarily reflect the feeling of walking, that is, dividing bar into quarters and, in the case of alla breve, halves . This measurement, of course, is not suitable for the phrasing of Mozart. its agogic changes within a group of bars, which requires a unit of counting one bar or even two bars or more.


When I did that, I was no longer playing "Mozart". I took a quadruple (4 16ths in a beat) into the next note - or a triplet or two triplets and ditto. In this passage, for some reason, either the LH played, or the RH played, so it was like too musicians trading off. I could turn it into different music. Here it did work. I was in time with the drum and high hat. I figured, because I was "feeling" the music. The drum was like another musician, a drummer.

But what you write here:
Quote
for the phrasing of Mozart. its agogic changes within a group of bars...

I am suspecting that part of what is throwing me might be, not what I don't hear, but what I do hear or sense in the music, without having consciously having learned it. It's happened before since my early years were self-taught. Or maybe (probably) its' a combination of both.

That is why I asked Bennevis whether in his student days, they also tried to be on top of the metronome, or if they tended to count. I'm wondering if genres also might make a difference.

I hope some of this makes sense.

Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: keystring] #2914806 11/21/19 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Bennevis, I'd like to ask your thoughts on something that arises from what you wrote here:
When you studied classical, did you, besides counting, also try to play on top of the metronome? Or was it just counting evenly?

I never used a metronome all my student days, and didn't even own one until adulthood (- long after I'd finished with lessons: I bought a mini metronome just to compare the speed of my several Beethoven symphony recordings). Very occasionally, my teacher would use her metronome - just for a few seconds - to check the tempo I was playing my pieces at (but only for the exam pieces), but never for keeping time with. I don't recall ever being asked by any of my teachers to play along to the clicking of a metronome.

A few years ago, I got a new mechanical metronome (my tiny old wind-up one having long ago given up the ghost) free with a subscription to a magazine (I think it was Pianist Magazine), and played around with it, mainly to check the speed of some of the contemporary pieces I was learning.

As for counting, my first teacher got me to count aloud in every piece that I was learning for the first few months. From then on, I'd count beats (silently) only when learning and practicing rhythmically tricky pieces, without any prompting from my teachers. When singing in the choir, I'd do the same when required; ditto when playing classical duets with friends (often sight-reading together).

When we were playing non-classical music, I just went with the flow, and never counted beats.....after all, it didn't matter if we weren't properly in synch as we weren't playing from sheet music. Somehow, we usually just 'came together'.

I'm not sure if I'm answering the question you're asking....


Quote
The other thing about this is: If I'm in a group, I have to be with the group - with the conductor - so the idea is that if I can't be on top of the metronome, I also can't be in sync with the group. But is it the same? Like, there is a flow or rhythm to when it's played by the group - another thing that you described. So is it the same thing?


"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: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: bennevis] #2915178 11/22/19 06:32 PM
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Bennevis, thank you for trying to answer.
[quote=bennevis]
I never used a metronome all my student days, and didn't even own one until adulthood (- long after I'd finished with lessons: I bought a mini metronome just to compare the speed of my several Beethoven symphony recordings). Very occasionally, my teacher would use her metronome - just for a few seconds - to check the tempo I was playing my pieces at (but only for the exam pieces), but never for keeping time with. I don't recall ever being asked by any of my teachers to play along to the clicking of a metronome.

A few years ago, I got a new mechanical metronome (my tiny old wind-up one having long ago given up the ghost) free with a subscription to a magazine (I think it was Pianist Magazine), and played around with it, mainly to check the speed of some of the contemporary pieces I was learning. [/quote\]
Those were the ways I've used the metronome in the past.

What I see from this is that the thing I'm trying to do right now (was asked to do) is not a thing you ever did at any time. I just wondered if that was in the gamut things you folks had done, since you have often written of the comprehensiveness of things in that country.

My task was to be able to play with the metronome in such a way that my note would fall squarely at the same time as the beat. In the graphic I linked, you can see that I was a sliver ahead. I was not expected to do this all the time, but just to get a skill going. It does seem to have had an effect. After a week of doing this and only this, I went back to the 8 measures I had worked on before, and even when playing without the metronome, the pulse is steadier than before, even if before it was not wildly off.

Going on in my thoughts: There's a video out there somewhere, with someone seeing classical musicians as being "less accurate" time-wise than jazz musicians. The speaker had been in a combined group in some musical project, and he theorizes why that is - that classical musicians don't need the precision because of the music they play and that this 100% micro-timing isn't needed. The rubato etc. which you wrote of goes in that direction too. I was thinking - if being able to play precisely with the metronome translates into being able to play precisely with an orchestra and/or a conductor - is that, in fact, what is done, in classical music? .......... My thoughts were sort of going in that direction.

Re: Beginner tapping foot with the beat. [Re: Muskellunge] #2915193 11/22/19 07:25 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
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Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
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Joined: Dec 2007
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Didn't fix quotes in time. Sorry - mess of a post. frown

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