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learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537059
09/28/08 05:31 PM
09/28/08 05:31 PM
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soupinmyhair Offline OP
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Does anyone have problems keeping a steady pulse? I wonder if it may be related to my struggle to count in my head ( and the lack of such really throws off my sight-reading I think). A violin teacher pointed out this tendency of mine when I was playing a reduced orchestral accompaniment part for a violinist in a lesson, and I think it's time I start taking a more active approach to getting rid of this problem, as keeping time is pretty crucial for pianists....

Anyone have any tips on how to improve this?

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Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537060
09/28/08 07:37 PM
09/28/08 07:37 PM
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Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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You could start by practicing with another musician - or other musicians - doing some accompaniment where it is crucial for you to keep the tempo and where the other(s) part(s) will help you do so.

You could also try playing pieces you know - do you have some repertoire - along with a recording.

You could ask a friend - someone, obviously with a good sense of rhythm - to conduct you while you play.

You could also try practicing - practicing, not playing - to the beat of a metronome. The metronome may not be great for your interpretation, but if you can follow it, it will certainly help you keep in time. Eventually, you may start to get a feel for a steady pulse.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537061
09/28/08 07:38 PM
09/28/08 07:38 PM
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BruceD
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Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537062
09/28/08 07:45 PM
09/28/08 07:45 PM
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Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
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Bruce's advice is great, as usual. smile

I only want to mention that I think you're fortunate to be aware that you have trouble in this area so that you can take steps to address it.

It's common for pianists to be confident that their "inner metronome" works just fine until they hear a recording of their playing; it can be a great shock to realize that one's perception of a steady pulse was in reality way off.

Steven

Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537063
09/28/08 08:07 PM
09/28/08 08:07 PM
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At a more basic level, my teacher recommends playing scales with a metronome. Pick a relatively slow speed and play quarter notes for one octave up & down at that speed. Then, play eighth notes for 2 octaves up & down at chosen speed. Next, do triplets for 3 octaves up & down, and end with 16ths for 4 octaves. Work with all the scales work to increase speed. I find that this not only helps scale technique, but it gives my playing in general a more steady pulse.

BruceD's advice is excellent, and I recommend you follow it as well. There is no substitute for playing with other musicians to hone your sense of beat.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537064
09/28/08 08:32 PM
09/28/08 08:32 PM
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Penang, Malaysia
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I'd definitely recommend praticing with a metronome, at a slower speed. Not only for scales, but for Hanon and other exercises. It's also easy for me to record the student's efforts on my Yamaha Clavinova so that he/she can hear the results immediately.

Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537065
09/29/08 09:02 AM
09/29/08 09:02 AM
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Puyallup, Washington
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Don't hide the problem you are having - take notice of it - try to identify if it is a chronic problem, or a problem only in certain areas of a piece of music.

Walk around the block - or the mall - or find a sidewalk that is flat and safe and walk, walk, walk at different tempos. Feel your legs moving in measured meter, consistency, create a steady beat with the large, long muscles of the body first.

Next, (next week maybe)you would add the swinging of the arms to the established walking.

You could try jogging, if you don't have physical limitations that make it unsafe. Exercises like these can be converted to sitting in a wooden chair. You are creating awareness of patterned movement.

Then, after some gains, you would take your steady tempo training back to the piano and work with a metronome with your arms and finger reactions created from reading the music to playing the piano.

If you were still having trouble, you would get out some books on rhythm training (Allan Small - Basic Timing or Hanon for it's steadyness) and work with the metronome if you were not able to do it well.

Kinesthetics might be a good research project, as would arrythmia if you feel you need to know more.

Best of luck in applying what you learn.

Betty

Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537066
09/29/08 12:43 PM
09/29/08 12:43 PM
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Maryland
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I'm probably not one to give much advice. I've been playing only since February.

But what seems to have helped me a bit in the last few months is actually counting out loud as opposed to counting in my head as you indicate you have been doing. At first, because I felt a bit self-conscious about counting outloud, I tried counting in my head also and when my teacher asked me if I was counting I said I was doing it in my head. She seemed a bit skeptical but let me get away with it.

When I went to SummerKeys this summer, Bruce Potterton told me it was important to count out loud. And he also got me clapping before playing. He worked on both with me for the full week at SummerKeys and was pretty insistent. Bruce also told me that he preferred not to use a metronome and that self-counting was more important for internalizing the tempo. When I got back from SummerKeys, my regular teacher endorsed and confirmed what Bruce had told me, including the non-use of a metronome.

Interestingly enough, my regular teacher has a metronome sitting on the paino, but in the 8 months I've been playing she has had me use it just once. My digital has 5 different metronomes, including one with just a clicking sound, one with a bell on the first click, and 3 in different languages (English, German, and Japanese). I find it more effective counting out loud myself.

So now I am more conscientious and disciplined about counting out loud, especially when I'm first learning a new song. I don't do too much clapping; although, I try it now and again.


Rod Michael
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Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537067
09/29/08 02:28 PM
09/29/08 02:28 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by rodmichael:
[...]When I went to SummerKeys this summer, Bruce Potterton told me it was important to count out loud. And he also got me clapping before playing. He worked on both with me for the full week at SummerKeys and was pretty insistent. Bruce also told me that he preferred not to use a metronome and that self-counting was more important for internalizing the tempo. When I got back from SummerKeys, my regular teacher endorsed and confirmed what Bruce had told me, including the non-use of a metronome.

[...]
That's fine if it works.

I know of one piano student - who also teaches! - who cannot count out loud from one to four, twice, and keep the counting even. So, if one is counting out loud and the beats are irregular, how does it help to count out loud?

Sometimes an external known regular beat is needed.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537068
09/29/08 04:38 PM
09/29/08 04:38 PM
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Haverhill, Massachusetts
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John Citron Offline
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I learned to count by counting outloud, walking and clapping to the meter, and playing chamber music.

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537069
09/29/08 04:39 PM
09/29/08 04:39 PM
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Maryland
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Quote
Originally posted by BruceD:
Quote
Originally posted by rodmichael:
[b][...]When I went to SummerKeys this summer, Bruce Potterton told me it was important to count out loud. And he also got me clapping before playing. He worked on both with me for the full week at SummerKeys and was pretty insistent. Bruce also told me that he preferred not to use a metronome and that self-counting was more important for internalizing the tempo. When I got back from SummerKeys, my regular teacher endorsed and confirmed what Bruce had told me, including the non-use of a metronome.

[...]
That's fine if it works.

I know of one piano student - who also teaches! - who cannot count out loud from one to four, twice, and keep the counting even. So, if one is counting out loud and the beats are irregular, how does it help to count out loud?

Sometimes an external known regular beat is needed.

Regards, [/b]
Actually, when I was at SummerKeys, I was in the midst of trying to learn an uneven beat, i.e., dotted-quarter notes in 4/4 time with resulting different rhythm in R + L hands. And I have eventually learned, at least in that regard to count "1 and 2 and 3 and..." keeping the rhythm in R+L on the integer or on the "and" whatever is appropriate. It's a bit the same with eighth-notes isn't it? When you have a couple of eighth-notes in one hand and a quarter- or half-note in the other.

However, as I prefaced my note, I can make no realistic claim to knowing the right answer, just to what I have been learning so far.

Best regards,


Rod Michael
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Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537070
09/29/08 08:33 PM
09/29/08 08:33 PM
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Texas
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Quote
Originally posted by soupinmyhair:

Anyone have any tips on how to improve this?
Try playing Dance Dance Revolution. It forces you to maintain a pretty strict rhythm at a tempo.


Houston, Texas
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537071
09/29/08 08:38 PM
09/29/08 08:38 PM
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Another thing to do is play with someone else. That forces you to play with a steady rhythm, even if it is not metronomic.


Semipro Tech
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537072
09/29/08 10:11 PM
09/29/08 10:11 PM
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I would like to add another thing that helps. Sub-dividing the beats in each measure. Instead of counting eigth notes for example, count them as quarters. This is particularly helpful when playing very slow movements because the mind has a tendency to wander instead of focusing on the time.

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537073
09/30/08 03:28 AM
09/30/08 03:28 AM
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Play and listen to plenty of jazz, ragtime, stride, swing, blues and boogie. A regular pulse is so intrinsic to these styles that its assimilation could scarcely be avoided if you keep at it.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537074
09/30/08 04:35 AM
09/30/08 04:35 AM
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As an exercise for you why not practice 'Ah! Vous Dirai-je, Maman' Variations by Mozart right hand only whilst tapping the beat in the left hand, then change hands. I will say that that piece in particular will train anyone well. It's in 2'4 but you can count it in 4'4 if you want and slow right down.

Hanon and scales are good but the hands are in lock step and most rythym needs to be built under changes.


It don't mean a ting if it don't have dat swing
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537075
09/30/08 10:37 AM
09/30/08 10:37 AM
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As a teenager, I had a real problem with rushing, particularly during difficult passages. Turns out, I was holding my breath as I played; the rhythm problems disappeared when I learned to breathe normally. "Learned" is the wrong word, of course, as we're all born knowing how to breathe. Similarly, it appears that most if not all human beings are endowed with a natural sense of pulse. I don't recall ever meeting anyone who was unable to walk or march steadily, for example.

If you can't keep a steady rhythm while playing the piano, my uninformed suspicion would be that you are allowing some form or physical or mental tension to impede your body's access to its inner sense of pulse. Or perhaps you're not listening well. Either way, you're breaking the feedback loop.

I'm surprised to see so many people advocating metronome practice. To those who are: has this actually helped your students? Obviously a metronome can provide evidence of a rhythmic problem to a pianist who is unaware or in denial, but can it really fix the problem, which would seem always to be deeply rooted in the pianist's physical habits? I am not a teacher and am very interested to hear the perspectives of the teachers, particularly those who work with young beginners.

Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537076
09/30/08 12:35 PM
09/30/08 12:35 PM
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Loki......too funny, but in a strange way, that would help.

H1


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Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537077
09/30/08 01:05 PM
09/30/08 01:05 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Lemon Pledge:
As a teenager, I had a real problem with rushing, particularly during difficult passages. Turns out, I was holding my breath as I played; the rhythm problems disappeared when I learned to breathe normally. "Learned" is the wrong word, of course, as we're all born knowing how to breathe. Similarly, it appears that most if not all human beings are endowed with a natural sense of pulse. I don't recall ever meeting anyone who was unable to walk or march steadily, for example.

If you can't keep a steady rhythm while playing the piano, my uninformed suspicion would be that you are allowing some form or physical or mental tension to impede your body's access to its inner sense of pulse. Or perhaps you're not listening well. Either way, you're breaking the feedback loop.

I'm surprised to see so many people advocating metronome practice. To those who are: has this actually helped your students? Obviously a metronome can provide evidence of a rhythmic problem to a pianist who is unaware or in denial, but can it really fix the problem, which would seem always to be deeply rooted in the pianist's physical habits? I am not a teacher and am very interested to hear the perspectives of the teachers, particularly those who work with young beginners.
I thought I was the only one who held my breath. I agree this and other not-concentrating issues cause the time to shift. That's why I advocate sub-dividing very slow passages, or even subdividing fast ones when first learning them. This keeps the brain focused on what you're *** SUPPOSED *** to be doing, and in the end you'll actually begin to "feel" the motion and rhythm and how it all syncs together.

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537078
09/30/08 01:24 PM
09/30/08 01:24 PM
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I don't have that problem in playing piano, perhaps because I see the relationships between different kinds of notes, but on clarinet in the more difficult pieces I get a little scared and sometimes miscount the rests. Maybe there's a good percussion teacher who offers rhythmic training lessons, this is something I am doing.

Meri


Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537079
09/30/08 01:31 PM
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Musiclady, can the rhythm of breathing be involved since clarinet involves breath?

Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537080
10/06/08 12:56 AM
10/06/08 12:56 AM
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Pianists, can do gym? even do push-up? does it affect the pulse?

I am so thin, u know. I doubt to do push-up,.. LOL


Don't face your problem if it's your face.
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537081
10/06/08 05:45 PM
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Marching Band wink

Failing that, get a metronome that is small enough to carry, and walk with it.


Adult Amateur Pianist

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Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537082
10/06/08 06:43 PM
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Use a metronome. Have it tick the 16ths if you have to. Anyone trying to learn to play an instrument should be using a metronome most of the time; even advanced pianists practice with them, and practice slowly more than they practice up to tempo. This goes for music, exercises, scales, everything.


SantaFe_Player
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Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537083
10/06/08 06:47 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by SantaFe_Player:
Use a metronome. Have it tick the 16ths if you have to. Anyone trying to learn to play an instrument should be using a metronome most of the time; even advanced pianists practice with them, and practice slowly more than they practice up to tempo. This goes for music, exercises, scales, everything.
Using a metronome most of the time can do more damage than good.


Piano Teacher
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537084
10/06/08 08:51 PM
10/06/08 08:51 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by BruceD:
what do you mean? smile


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537085
10/06/08 08:54 PM
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i also call for using a metronome. You could try setting it at 60 80 100 and 120.. and train yourself to recognize those tempos.

I had a rather difficult time 'keeping' a steady tempo once i established it. I'm much better now.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537086
10/06/08 10:28 PM
10/06/08 10:28 PM
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What is not always understand is that rhythm is a learned activity, just as are other aspects of playing the piano, such as proper posture, reading music, and so forth.

Thus, people learn to read music, and to play the piano, all the while putting rhythm training on the back burner, or on no burner at all.

That is like having a car with four wheels, and being very careful to keep three of them in shape, but not even acknowledging the presence of the fourth wheel until, all of a sudden, they play with someone else, or play along with a recording, or listen to a recording of themselves, and realize that they are speeding up and slowing down.

Basically, when one speeds up or slows down, he or she has learned to do so at those places in the music, just as they have learned to play the notes. It is not an accident...it is something they have trained themselves to do because they have trained without a steady rhythm as a point of pure reference.

That is why working on rhythm is something that is a necessary and integral part of learning to play the piano.

Therefore, I do rhythm training from the very beginning in my lessons. Many of my students are doing quite well w/rhythm, compared to those who studied with me before I began to stress the importance of rhythm training. I changed my focus when I saw many students learn to play, but with erratic rhythm/tempo.

Basically, the things that help are: 1. Using a metronome or drum machine to instill accurate rhythm, and 2. counting out loud while playing. This includes counting out loud with the machine, and playing along with the machine, especially during technique exercises such as Pischna, Josephy and (gasp!) Hanon.
Using a metronome with some music does not seem to work very well, but using it with exercises, and learning to count out loud, does work, and transfers over to the music.

This works because the metronome or drum machine is a fixed tempo which is then learned. That accurate tempo replaces the erratic self-learned tempo.

Then, when playing, the mind has a fixed reference point from which it can sway a bit from, so the player does not sound like a robot. Counting out loud (even a whisper under the breath works) taps into that fixed reference when necessary, and the music is thus as it should be, neither uncomfortably speeding up and slowing down, nor is it robot-like, a common fear which I have not witnessed as a result of using a metronome.

As a wonderful benefit, the player can play with confidence, rather than worrying about tempo changes. That worrying and resulting lack of confidence usually causes stress, saps the life out of the playing, and can itself contribute to erratic tempo!


Piano teacher.
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537087
10/07/08 03:04 AM
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singapore
Quote

Pianists, can do gym? even do push-up? does it affect the pulse?

I am so thin, u know. I doubt to do push-up,.. LOL
Let me re-up this one quoted.

I need to know any advice or tip of this.
Thanks. This would mean a lot to me.


Don't face your problem if it's your face.
Re: learning to keep a steady pulse/rhythm #537088
10/07/08 04:20 AM
10/07/08 04:20 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 16,203
Canada
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
keystring  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 16,203
Canada
I went through a couple of phases. Originally I wasn't aware of my rhyhm being off. Then when I did I played along with the metronome but it was actually background noise. My son, who is in music, said one day "I can't figure out why you have that thing going. You ignore it anyway." I realized that he never plays with the metronome: he turns it on, checks it, turns it off again. I got better at it. The last feedback I got, however, is that I seem to be trying to *follow the beat* but I don't seem to have *internalized the rhythm*. I take that to mean that the rhythm is inside you and comes from there. This has got me going for a while becuase there does seem to be a difference between "following the beat" and "internalizing the rhythm".

I've started to work on a piece which is slow and simple with two melodies weaving in and out. You can't hide anything. Time and again the note of the RH won't be totally in synch with the one of the LH. Instead of "ding" I get "b-ding". I'd manage to get a "d-bing" instead of "b-ding", or almost be on, but the two weren't coming together. Then I counted out loud or tapped my foot, and made both hands come out of the count or foot tapping, and voila, clean "dings". The only thing I can think of is that the rhythm was coming from one centred place finally instead of two hands trying to follow the rhythm. Does anyone have insights into this?

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