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Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not?

Posted By: DDobs

Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/13/19 03:50 PM

Sorry, I'm a non-teacher posting in the teachers' forum.

I've been told by a teacher not to use a metronome. Many players on the forums seem to find them useful. I'm trying to decide whether to buy one. I've heard they're helpful with Hanon, learning trills, etc.

I'd appreciate any opinions on this topic.

Thank you.
Posted By: Learux

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/13/19 05:08 PM

There is many metronome apps for cellphone, try one of those first before you buy.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/13/19 09:25 PM

I'm also not a piano teacher.
Metronome is a tool which is useful for some purposes, useless for other purposes, and dangerous for still others. Think of a hammer. It's great for driving nails, ok for pounding other stuff, and completely wrong for many other purposes.
Posted By: pianist_lady

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/13/19 09:34 PM

Do you know why your teacher does not want you to use a metronome?
Posted By: prout

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/13/19 09:43 PM

A metronome is great for determining a rough tempo for a piece you are learning. It is great if you want to play metronomically. It is great when practicing polyrhythms or complicated rhythmic passages.

It is not great if you want to play music or to play musically.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/14/19 05:12 AM

For me, it depends on the propensity of the student. Some students can't follow a metronome, ever. It distracts them, no matter how many times they try.

With other students, a metronome becomes a crutch to counting. They absolutely fall apart without the metronome.

Still, with other students, a metronome makes them super players.

I use a metronome with all students, but I don't force it upon them if it doesn't work for them.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/14/19 01:42 PM

I use a metronome frequently.

Like recording, it keeps you honest. It is very hard to hear if you're cheating the rhythms or counting incorrectly otherwise. The metronome doesn't lie. Do you pause between sections? Unless you check, you don't know.

Also, if you have one of the phone apps, you can set a distinctive beat one. When playing syncopated patterns it is easy to add or drop a beat without realizing it, but if one isn't on one then you're wrong.

It teaches you to adapt to an external time. If you can't play with a metronome, you likely can't play with another person, who is even less predictable. But that doesn't matter to everybody.

I use mine when I work out, too. I set it for 60 and use it to time my planks, etc.

My free phone app is a tuner, metronome, drone, and I guess it records but I've never used that feature.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/15/19 01:12 PM

I believe that it is not as much a question of whether to use a metronome, but when to use it, how to use it, for what purpose, and why - which then gives an answer to whether to use it. Your teacher's reasons probably hinge around those things.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/15/19 01:19 PM

Well, I mostly agree with keystring, but I also think with some people there is just a strong prejudice against it. The claim is that it will produce "metronomic" playing, without expression. I find that claim dubious myself. But then, most of my playing is instrumental in an ensemble, and as part of the group you do use rubato but it must be a shared one, not an individual choice.

I think learning to play with a metronome is an essential skill that should be mastered early before it becomes a phobia.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/15/19 01:41 PM

I've no doubt that the metronome can be a useful tool in some circumstances, but I believe that a far more important concept that teachers must instil in all their students is counting beats aloud - from the first lesson, no matter which method book they use (or don't use). A student who was never taught that properly (and the fact that music = notes plus rhythm) - or at all - will likely end up totally dependent on some other 'outside' means of keeping time......like a metronome.

I've seen more than a few learners (mostly adults rather than kids, who seem to be better taught) who can play in perfect time with the click-click of a metronome - obviously they learnt and practiced with it - but as soon as the clicking stopped, their rhythm and tempo goes haywire. Is that musical? Are they musical?

None of my four teachers ever used a metronome with me - in fact, I never even saw one (or knew what one was) until I studied with my last teacher.....and he only used it (very rarely) to check the tempo I was playing at.
Posted By: Jt2nd

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/15/19 01:42 PM

Is the idea with a metronome to have it ticking away all the time or just to check it for a few seconds to get the idea and then switch off and play ? Having a wooden one knocking away all the time would drive me mad .A silent , visual , one would be like a conductor. That would be much better . It would translate the speed number printed on music in a useful way .
Do the wooden ones have the words like Allego printed on them ?
I just checked and the Amoon one has a softer sound and a very visual swinging arm .I would be happy with that . Is there one to help with Fugues ?
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/15/19 05:49 PM

Originally Posted by Jt2nd
Is the idea with a metronome to have it ticking away all the time or just to check it for a few seconds to get the idea and then switch off and play ?


Something in between, depending on the experience of the student.
An experienced player who CAN keep a steady beat internally and who can play with a metronome as needed would use it occasionally and briefly.
I would not think anyone would use one all the time. But while working out rhythms, you might need it for extended periods.

You would not use one in performance. (You wouldn't need one, you'd have a clicktrack going on an IEM).
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/15/19 06:14 PM

I thought of a way to explain how I think it should be used.

Can you play four quarter notes of exactly equal length?

How do you know? You check with a metronome.

You don't wait to hear the metronome and let it guide you to equal length quarter notes, that comes from your internal beat, but without the external check you will fool yourself. It recalibrates your sense of time.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/15/19 06:41 PM

Originally Posted by TimR
I thought of a way to explain how I think it should be used.

Can you play four quarter notes of exactly equal length?

How do you know? You check with a metronome.

I disagree.

You listen to yourself - record yourself on your phone and play it back, if you're not sure. Train your ears, not rely on a mechanical instrument. Learn to listen to yourself.

BTW, you never play to a click track when playing piano, unless you're accompanying a soundtrack or movie etc. If you're good enough to do the latter, you wouldn't be needing a metronome to keep time for practicing.
Posted By: outo

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/16/19 01:31 AM

There are simple web tools you can use to check your recordings:
https://www.all8.com/tools/bpm.htm
You can use it on your favorite pro recording too, it's enlightening.
Posted By: prout

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/16/19 03:17 AM

Originally Posted by TimR
I thought of a way to explain how I think it should be used.

Can you play four quarter notes of exactly equal length?

How do you know? You check with a metronome.

You don't wait to hear the metronome and let it guide you to equal length quarter notes, that comes from your internal beat, but without the external check you will fool yourself. It recalibrates your sense of time.
Sorry, but this is not relevant to the art of making music.

First off, the word 'exact' is a fool's word. Even a metronome is incapable of producing exactly equal length beats and neither is the NIST 'atomic' clock. The correct word is 'precise', and you may choose your level of precision.

Secondly, musicians and ballet dancers and tap dancers and drummers and such have been producing precisely equal length dance steps and quarter notes and such long before any metronome or clock could aid them. We musicians have an internal sense of rhythm which is not only extremely accurate, but simultaneously musical.
Posted By: thepianoplayer416

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/16/19 07:09 AM

I use a metronome for practice most of the time after I learned a piece well enough. In the beginning I'm just learning to right notes and usually not overly concerned with counting exactly. After a while practicing the same notes over and over I have a tendency to speed up and feel my current speed of playing gets rather slow. I need a metronome to keep me playing at a certain tempo.

In performance obviously not. You don't usually play every beat the exact same. Some of the time you'd be a touch ahead of the beat and some of the time behind. As long as you are not too far off should be OK.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/16/19 01:12 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by TimR
I thought of a way to explain how I think it should be used.

Can you play four quarter notes of exactly equal length?

How do you know? You check with a metronome.

I disagree.

You listen to yourself - record yourself on your phone and play it back, if you're not sure. Train your ears, not rely on a mechanical instrument. Learn to listen to yourself.


Well of course that's the goal. But it is impossible for beginners to listen to themselves in real time, and apparently intermediates struggle as well. (and church musicians - don't get me started!)

And yes recordings are very effective, and nobody should neglect to do this. But a metronome is often the quickest and easiest way to check how closely you're playing.

Sorry I brought up click track, it's not really relevant. But if you do session work at all, it's not an option, it's a requirement. The only thing I use it for is if I'm making a multitrack. Yes, you can set your software to play your previous tracks back, but without the click track the latency adds.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/16/19 01:21 PM

Originally Posted by prout

Secondly, musicians and ballet dancers and tap dancers and drummers and such have been producing precisely equal length dance steps and quarter notes and such long before any metronome or clock could aid them. We musicians have an internal sense of rhythm which is not only extremely accurate, but simultaneously musical.


On precise vs exact, point taken. You are correct, my wording was bad.

On the precision produced, yes and no. I don't teach beginners but for social reasons I've attended quite a number of recitals. Students do NOT exhibit an internal sense of rhythm! Whether a metronome would ameliorate that I don't know. It would surely point it out though.

The point I was trying to make with my example is that I use the metronome to verify precision, not to produce it. It's a check, not a forcing function. (when used as a forcing function, you end up playing late.)

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.
Posted By: prout

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/16/19 01:48 PM

Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by prout

Secondly, musicians and ballet dancers and tap dancers and drummers and such have been producing precisely equal length dance steps and quarter notes and such long before any metronome or clock could aid them. We musicians have an internal sense of rhythm which is not only extremely accurate, but simultaneously musical.


On precise vs exact, point taken. You are correct, my wording was bad.

On the precision produced, yes and no. I don't teach beginners but for social reasons I've attended quite a number of recitals. Students do NOT exhibit an internal sense of rhythm! Whether a metronome would ameliorate that I don't know. It would surely point it out though.

The point I was trying to make with my example is that I use the metronome to verify precision, not to produce it. It's a check, not a forcing function. (when used as a forcing function, you end up playing late.)

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 make a good point about solo pianists. I hadn't thought of it that way.

In the spirit of honesty, my ab initio teacher ignored teaching me rhythm completely, though I could sight read anything. My new teacher, when we moved to a new city, actually laughed at me when I first played for him, and refused to take me on, but at the insistance of my mother, agreed on the basis that I did not touch the piano for six months, but only clapped ryhthms he provided using a metronome.

I am eternally grateful for that experience. My sense of rhythm is much better now after 50 years as a professional musician, though the ab initio teacher really screwed me up. She is rotting in h*ll now, I would expect, if I were religious.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/16/19 02:09 PM

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.



Few people are born with it. And those who are almost certainly have innate musical talent.

Like almost anything else, for most people, it has to be learnt. I'm always eternally grateful for my first teacher's insistence on counting beats aloud for every piece I learnt in the first few months (even when just repeating the same note in each hand) - and she counted the beats aloud with me, so I didn't feel silly doing it during the lessons - until the 'regular beat' of one-two-three etc became ingrained into my psyche. I wasn't born with a good sense of internal pulse. I developed it by training - not by relying on a metronome.

Remember, you get better at what you practice. If you keep practicing with a metronome, you get good at playing along with the metronome's clicking. An external source of regular beats. Without it, you're lost again.

Whereas if you keep counting beats aloud, you can gradually count in a whisper, then in your head, then it becomes automatic whenever you play because it's totally ingrained in your mind. And the sense of a regular beat (which you can also bend if the music requires it) becomes second nature, and you don't even need to think about it anymore.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/16/19 04:28 PM


The dedicated single purpose metronome is strictly an antique. You can get more versatile functionality for free from numerous apps.

Personally, I never used a metronome, and I learned early to play in noisy environments. I have to make a conscious effort to pay attention to the clicks starting out, and soon I just ignore them, they fade into irrelevant noise.

Playing to clicks was an essential skill for movie and TV scoring musicians -- Local 47 -- back in the day. Now, not so much. It's just more efficient to play to the clicks than to fix it in the DAW.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/17/19 06:03 AM

The metronome is a tool or device. The question probably is not whether to use it, but how, when, and why. I wonder if the "how" (the different ways you can invent) is looked into much. When and why intermesh with this.

I've recently turned to a new chapter in my own relationship with the metronome. To start, the decades I was on my own without ever having had a teacher, there was no metronome. My playing style was influence by singing and tended to be lyrical, somewhat rubato. At some point when I got a piano again, I played with the metronome on. A music major in the family pointed out that I was totally ignoring the clicks, and talked to me about internal pulse. Also, that you don't try to "follow" the metronome. I put it away, and pursued internal pulse. At most, I'd put it on to check tempo, and turn it off again.

Next stage was counting, counting with clapping, counting inside the claps for things like 3/4, 4/4, tuplets - the bigger pulse of the measure or larger beats surrounding a tuplet - accelerando or the reverse by slowing down the claps and the beats inside them. I was happily metronome.

Recently I had a piece that kept changing between duple and triple time, without a steady pulse in the other hand. I was coming in early or late. I was advised to work with the metronome. What I discovered then is that I couldn't hear if I was early or late when I played back. The hearing had not developed. At best, I could try to "erase" the click of the metronome because if I'm on time, my notes will "squash" the click. There is an important point: You can't improve what you can't perceive. At that point, since I record, I realized my software also gives me a visual so I can see the clicks as sharp spikes. I could see if I was coming in early even if I could not hear it. I started listening for parts where the visual told me I was not in time with the metronome, and after a while my ability to hear caught up.

I happened to save a pic of a visual where a three-against-two timing was happening and it shows that the triplets (D, C, Bb) are relatively even and the note after the triplet comes in exactly on time.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/utlt9h2q6xlh5x4/18.12.18a%20illustration.jpg?dl=0

After that I turned off the metronome, went on to straight counting, and moved toward making it musical with rubato where needed without losing the pulse.

What I would NOT do is play with the metronome going tick tick tick, hoping to develop pulse by osmosis. Practising is an active, aware, and somewhat creative process where you change what you do and how you do it according to what is going on. If you have a teacher and especially at the beginning, your teacher will have things in mind for that process, and it's a good idea to try what he or she is saying, and for long enough.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/17/19 05:19 PM

Once you have developed good internal time, I think you have to be wary of it fading or needing to be recalibrated, unless you are periodically working on it or playing in ensembles that force you to.

I sometimes wonder about piano teachers, forced to listen all day to students who stumble and stutter to various degrees. How do they keep their own time skills?

Here's an article by Antonio Garcia, who teaches jazz skills in the music program at VCU in Richmond. I've met him, played some of his arrangements, and been to a couple master classes. He did one of the exercises in the following article with a group I play with, AND the audience, and it was very intriguing. He gets people doing rhythm with a metronome, then starts making it harder by removing beats.


Improve Your Groove - Antonio García


https://www.garciamusic.com/educator/articles/improve.groove.html


One of his oft repeated sayings: If you sound good, you're not practicing: you're showing off. Stop showing off, get practicing!
Posted By: prout

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/17/19 08:23 PM

Originally Posted by TimR
Antonio García

One of his oft repeated sayings: If you sound good, you're not practicing: you're showing off. Stop showing off, get practicing!


Good quote. I like that.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/17/19 10:37 PM

Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by TimR
Antonio García

One of his oft repeated sayings: If you sound good, you're not practicing: you're showing off. Stop showing off, get practicing!


Good quote. I like that.


It's a cute glib saying but it doesn't make sense to me. When I sound good, it is because of how I practised, and because what I did was real practising, working on weak areas and so on. If I didn't practise properly, or just played through in the guise of practising, I also wont' sound good.

Does he mean, "If you imagine you sound good:"? If you sound good, well that's the goal, isn't it?

If you sound good when and where? If you are performing, that's supposed to be how it is. If you are practising, and you stay with things where you sound good, you are wasting your time where it's not needed.

In short, I don't get the saying. I'm not sure I like it.
Posted By: prout

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/17/19 10:45 PM

I think your reading too much into it. I just think it means practice more, play less.

Obviously the practice has to be directed. In university my teachers didn't allow me to play a piece up to tempo or completely through until a few days before the recital, and that was with 3 to 6 months of prep. When it came time to perform, it was a piece of cake. I've used that technique for decades. Probably not the right approach for everyone though.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/18/19 02:35 AM

It's hyperbole to make a point.

He's a good communicator, I'm always impressed when I see him in action in person.

His point is that working on things you already do well isn't the way to improve. You have to work on the things you can't do yet.

This is very similar to some of Carol Dweck's teachings in math.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/18/19 03:24 AM

Ok. Getting back to the metronome.....
Posted By: malkin

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/18/19 01:27 PM

Originally Posted by TimR
...I sometimes wonder about piano teachers, forced to listen all day to students who stumble and stutter to various degrees. How do they keep their own time skills?



I wonder how they keep their sanity!

Sorry keystring, I couldn't resist. Now back to the metronome.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/18/19 02:46 PM

I am one who find a metronome useful for a number of reasons.

I don't know any of my brass playing peers who don't use them at least occasionally during their practice.

Quite often when the metronome is discussed there are a few people who are very opposed to any use, and sometimes the conversation develops a moralistic flavor, as if the use was somehow sinful or reprehensible. The most common reason given is that it develops mechanical inexpressive playing. There really isn't any evidence for that. Some of the other hazards suggested may have more validity, such as the one about becoming dependent on it.

There is one common use among beginners that I am very opposed to: the incremental speedup. Set the metronome to 80, play your scale 100 times, move it up to 81, rinse, repeat. You'll be at 500 bpm speed in no time! As logical as it sounds, it doesn't work and is counterproductive, but almost every beginner invents it on their own if they haven't been told to do it by somebody who should know better.

Oh. One other use for the phone app. Mine has a tap function, as do some of the inexpensive electronic ones. So I can pull up a youtube video of a performer doing some concerto, etc., and tap the metronome along with the playing. The metronome will read out the beats per minute of my tapping.

There is another topic even more controversial - tapping the foot!
Posted By: prout

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/18/19 04:49 PM

I, and my wife, use a metronome (iPad based) many times daily. It is extremely useful. But out of a 5 hour teaching session and a 3 hour practice session, it might be used for a total of 1 minute.
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/19/19 06:49 PM

I find it good, not to teach me how to play in time, but to assist in learning a technical passage that I can't play. I set the metronome slowly, then gradually increment it up. The purpose of which is to stop me from playing the bits I can play too fast and then slowing down on the hard bits, which is all too common. It also helps you remember the speed that you achieved the day before.

It exposes what you can and can't play, in a way, and shows you the weak spots.

I too don't really subscribe to the claim that it makes one play metronomically, I would say if this is the case, then it indicates that one is playing without thinking.

I think that if you can play along with a metronome, then you should be able to play with rubato, etc. - In other words, the transition from playing in time to playing out of time is a lot easier than doing it the other way around. The claim that one should play with rubato is all too easily used to cover up the fact that one can't actually play in time.

So it's a kind of measuring tool in a way,it will tell you at what tempo you can proficiently play something without rubato interfering with that. But of course, this is not the way you would actually "play" the piece.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/19/19 07:10 PM

Originally Posted by Zaphod
I find it good, not to teach me how to play in time, but to assist in learning a technical passage that I can't play. I set the metronome slowly, then gradually increment it up. The purpose of which is to stop me from playing the bits I can play too fast and then slowing down on the hard bits, which is all too common.

For me, that would ring alarm bells that the student doesn't have a good sense of pulse - when he slows down for the difficult bits and speeds up on the easy bits without realising it.

I really think you're over-using the metronome......
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/19/19 09:21 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis

For me, that would ring alarm bells that the student doesn't have a good sense of pulse - when he slows down for the difficult bits and speeds up on the easy bits without realising it.


It's the "without realising it" bit that you're getting wrong. In a student that hasn't already got a sense of pulse, I would not suggest a metronome replacement. However, it's the student that cheats by deliberately slowing down for a difficult technical passage that I'm talking about. Sometimes using the excuse of "rubato" to justify this.

I personally use a metronome to develop speed, not to replace rhythm. Although I might flick it on quickly to get the rough tempo of a new piece, but that will only be for a couple of seconds. It's a very specific thing I use the metronome for. Some people don't realise that the metronome has a few uses.

However, your statement is correct internally - metronome should not become a crutch to rely on in order to develop a solid pulse. Perhaps new students should be encouraged not to use it so much until they develop a good internal clock.

For example, I have a beginner pupil. We hardly ever use the metronome. But in my own practise, I use it for the above reason, so perhaps it's a tool that comes in later in one's advancement.

Originally Posted by bennevis
I really think you're over-using the metronome......


That's rather a shot-in-the-dark statement to make, considering you have no information about the structure of my practise. Care to explain?
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/19/19 09:52 PM

Originally Posted by Zaphod

Originally Posted by bennevis
I really think you're over-using the metronome......


That's rather a shot-in-the-dark statement to make, considering you have no information about the structure of my practise. Care to explain?

This was what you posted - about yourself:

I find it good, not to teach me how to play in time, but to assist in learning a technical passage that I can't play. I set the metronome slowly, then gradually increment it up. The purpose of which is to stop me from playing the bits I can play too fast and then slowing down on the hard bits, which is all too common.

You were writing in the first person, and I replied accordingly.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/19/19 10:19 PM

Every year when I write comments for student performances--whether it's at a competition or for a piano exam--I always hesitate before writing a comment about using the metronome. There are actually teachers around here who are adamant about NOT using the metronome, for ANY reason. They think that using a metronome is detrimental to rhythm. One of my colleagues actually got a complaint for writing "You need to practice with a metronome."

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.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/19/19 11:46 PM

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)?
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/19/19 11:48 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis

This was what you posted - about yourself:

I find it good, [i]not to teach me how to play in time, but to assist in learning a technical passage that I can't play. I set the metronome slowly, then gradually increment it up. The purpose of which is to stop me from playing the bits I can play too fast and then slowing down on the hard bits, which is all too common. [/i]

You were writing in the first person, and I replied accordingly.


I thought this was quite clear, according to the bit at the beginning which I've bolded. The ultimate goal of which is to achieve the bit that you bolded. The metronome is used to highlight the fluctuations, but not used in order to teach one a steady pulse.

Perhaps this particular way of using a metronome is a slightly alien concept to those who choose not to use one? I have noticed this often gets misinterpreted.

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)?


I think the technique of using a metronome, certainly that I am thinking of, is a technique that is used once one is capable of achieving a steady pulse without one. I think it would be a necessary requirement to have enough natural pulse that one can play in time with a metronome before one uses one for speed training. It should not be used as a crutch, but rather as a tool.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/20/19 01:48 AM

I cannot imagine using the metronome for "speed training", though maybe I sort of do. I was trying to open it to a much more general idea. When there is a tool, you want to have a purpose, think of various ways you can use that tool for those purposes - not just flick it on and hope it will somehow help with something somehow.

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?
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/20/19 02:46 AM

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.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/20/19 02:52 AM

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.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/20/19 02:55 AM

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.
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/20/19 04:21 AM

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.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/20/19 07:34 AM

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.
Posted By: outo

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/20/19 07:44 AM


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...
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/20/19 08:13 AM

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 .
Posted By: pianist_lady

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/20/19 01:30 PM

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.
Posted By: jdw

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/20/19 03:44 PM

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.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/21/19 02:28 PM

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.
Posted By: prout

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/21/19 02:29 PM

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?


Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/21/19 06:43 PM

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.
Posted By: prout

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/21/19 07:41 PM

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'.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/21/19 07:48 PM

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?
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/21/19 09:04 PM

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.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/21/19 09:18 PM

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.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/21/19 09:35 PM

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.
Posted By: prout

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/21/19 10:52 PM

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.
Posted By: DDobs

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/22/19 12:22 AM

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.
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/22/19 01:59 AM

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.
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/22/19 02:13 AM

Actually it's not in 3/4 but you know what I mean. One counts in threes.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/22/19 02:45 AM

one TWO three breath PLAY
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/22/19 03:29 AM

Originally Posted by TimR
one TWO three breath PLAY


Or in the drummer's case :

one TWO dribble PLAY.
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/22/19 06:22 AM

Originally Posted by prout
[[q 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.

The invention of the wheel again - thousands of years ago, the Hindus created connacol : ||:Taki-taki -takita |Taki-taki -takita :|| Last week my workshop played in concert a Macedonian song at 7/8 .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7n2MBXEknk

With the use of taki-taki , it still took only 3 rehearsals to master the rhythm.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/22/19 10:38 AM

Thinking about this:
Originally Posted by Gary D.
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 ...

I like the idea of subdivision for several reasons. The first is that it drives me batty when teachers write that "the quarter note is a beat". Maybe the first music they teaching is all in 4/4 and 3/4, but it raises havoc later with different time signatures (3/8 etc.). Note values are proportional to each other.-- two of these fit in one of those. With what you are describing, ones gets flexibility early - can shift from one note value to the other for figuring out timing.

It might also go a long way to preventing the Fear of the Flags (or beams), where eighths, sixteenths, become Scary Fast Notes in people's minds. You've been using them as counting tools from the beginning, like friendly toy building blocks.

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

A nice progression from one to the next.

Quote
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 pulses 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.


I like the flexibility of this.

An afterthought: I taught theory once to someone who had been playing for a number of years but mostly on her own. These three concepts were originally jumbled together and had to be separated:
- note value
- time signature
- beat
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/22/19 10:19 PM

Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by prout
[[q 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.

The invention of the wheel again - thousands of years ago, the Hindus created connacol : ||:Taki-taki -takita |Taki-taki -takita :|| Last week my workshop played in concert a Macedonian song at 7/8 .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7n2MBXEknk

With the use of taki-taki , it still took only 3 rehearsals to master the rhythm.

I have one question to you: why do you always write as if you're the only guy in the universe who understands anything, and the rest of us are fools that might finally catch up to you in 1000 years?

Of COURSE anything in 7 is going to be 2+2+3, 3+2+2 or 2+3+2. You can call it anything you want, but if the people you are working with are not used to this rhythm, it will be new. Some people will pick it up in seconds, others will take longer, and taki-taki-takita is not a magic trick that suddenly will solve all rhythm problems.

The above can also be 4+3 or 3+4, with any syllables, including scat, that gets the job done.
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/22/19 11:43 PM

Sometimes I hit my pupils over the head sharply with the metronome if they're not playing in time. I find this to be an efficient method.

So yes. A metronome is extremely effective in making your pupils play in time.

</thread>
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 07:11 AM

Originally Posted by keystring

An afterthought: I taught theory once to someone who had been playing for a number of years but mostly on her own. These three concepts were originally jumbled together and had to be separated:
- note value
- time signature
- beat

Yup. These concepts are all blurred together. And I have to warn beginners not to read lines and spaces differently when there are beams. Believe it or not, they often do. The get confused about where the notes are when there are beams, or even when stems flip.

Once you know the tempo, for the most part time signatures are extra information you don't need. You need to know the pulse, and the speed. Then things have to be timed so X number of a note with Y value fit in.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 07:19 AM

Originally Posted by prout
I, and my wife, use a metronome (iPad based) many times daily. It is extremely useful. But out of a 5 hour teaching session and a 3 hour practice session, it might be used for a total of 1 minute.

I have two metronomes, the old fashioned kind with the weight and another that uses a battery. I also have one somewhere in an app on my computer or cell phone, and at the moment I don't even know where.

I used these things at some time with every student, to illustrate how and why to use it. But like you I only use it for a few seconds, and for the same reason. Sometimes I want to find out if a marking on a page is close to what I'm playing, mostly out of curiosity, because if I'm convinced by a tempo I have chosen, I'm not likely to change because of a marking. In fact, that's probably the only reason I use it for myself. For students I use it for a number of reasons.

1. To prove that they are out of rhythm, when they don't believe me.
2. To illustrate changing a beat subdivision to anything, like switching from triplets to groups of 4 to 5 tuplets, and so on.
3. As a very cheap and crude drummer, to illustrate how we can play very flexibly over a steady beat. (You mentioned this talking about singers who are obviously behind or ahead of the beat in a way that is effective, mostly to do with the words and the freedom of text.)
4. In some cases to show that there are times when we slow up from section to section, or speed up, when it is not audible, where a very slow section may actually be faster than a later section, marked with the same tempo, that has many notes per beat..
5. To prove that top ensembles sometimes come in early after rests, all together, in a way that is either planned as an ensemble or just happens, because it is effective.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 07:22 AM

Originally Posted by DDobs
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.

Who said it? Are you quoting me?

I'm saying that it's a huge waste of time when people do not address WHY a metronome should not be used, or why it SHOULD be used.

I'm also suggesting that the most practical and down-to-earth replies are lost.

As a teacher I can tell you, off the top of my head, a good 10 reasons why the metronome is important and should be used.

And I can tell you a good 10 reasons why using it is a bad idea.

And if your teacher can't do this, you have a poor teacher.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 08:54 AM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by keystring

An afterthought: I taught theory once to someone who had been playing for a number of years but mostly on her own. These three concepts were originally jumbled together and had to be separated:
- note value
- time signature
- beat

Yup. These concepts are all blurred together. And I have to warn beginners not to read lines and spaces differently when there are beams. Believe it or not, they often do. The get confused about where the notes are when there are beams, or even when stems flip.

Once you know the tempo, for the most part time signatures are extra information you don't need. You need to know the pulse, and the speed. Then things have to be timed so X number of a note with Y value fit in.


I often find, when I read explanations students are given, or see quotes from books, that there is such a hurry to get to the playing of music, that the explanations are rushed. Thus "The quarter note is a beat." No, it is not! The quarter note lasts twice as long as an eighth note; two quarter notes fit inside the timing of a half note. That is the definition or duration of a quarter note. It has nothing to do with the beat, which is a distinct and separate thing.

The beat has to do with a measure, and an underlying pulse. In 3/4 time, the beat is indeed the length of a quarter note and there are three of them. But the ratio of note values (half, quarter, eighth) is still as it is. In 3/8 time the beat lasts the time of 3 eighth notes. But the value of the notes remains the same: 2 eighth notes = 1 quarter note, etc.

If you do use a metronome as a tool - or if you use counting to work out your music or work with it - then this distinction also gives you flexibility. Quarter note = 60 in 3/4 time, I could set my metronome at 60. I could also set it at 120 for eighth notes. I can work with the music all kinds of ways if I truly understand, in my bones, the actual concepts. How many of us, as students, have ended up vaguely mucking about? And did so for years?
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 01:11 PM

Originally Posted by keystring

If you do use a metronome as a tool - or if you use counting to work out your music or work with it - then this distinction also gives you flexibility. Quarter note = 60 in 3/4 time, I could set my metronome at 60. I could also set it at 120 for eighth notes. I can work with the music all kinds of ways if I truly understand, in my bones, the actual concepts. How many of us, as students, have ended up vaguely mucking about? And did so for years?


It would be useful to set it to 20 and work one beat per measure. The speed would be the same. It might have a waltz feel. <g>

But my phone app only goes down to 40, and there are times when I would like it slower - not to play a piece more slowly, but to have less frequent ticks. There are metronome apps, I think tonal energy might be one, that can be set to randomly drop ticks.

Last night at bells rehearsal I started them on a new piece, with 6 quarter notes per measure. There is nothing difficult in this one, it is actually easier than the piece in 4/4 we had just played through. However the struggle was immense. I had to patiently explain measure by measure. Yes, a quarter note still gets one beat. No, you must give a half note two beats. If you have a whole note and two quarter, we will not play the quarter notes until beats 5 and 6. Tries it, plays whole note on beat one, quarter notes on two and three. We only meet once a week and the forgetting in between makes it hard for these concepts to stick, with a couple of people who have zero musical background. And sometimes I think they understand, but they really don't.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 04:16 PM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
1. To prove that they are out of rhythm, when they don't believe me.
2. To illustrate changing a beat subdivision to anything, like switching from triplets to groups of 4 to 5 tuplets, and so on.
3. As a very cheap and crude drummer, to illustrate how we can play very flexibly over a steady beat. (You mentioned this talking about singers who are obviously behind or ahead of the beat in a way that is effective, mostly to do with the words and the freedom of text.)
4. In some cases to show that there are times when we slow up from section to section, or speed up, when it is not audible, where a very slow section may actually be faster than a later section, marked with the same tempo, that has many notes per beat..
5. To prove that top ensembles sometimes come in early after rests, all together, in a way that is either planned as an ensemble or just happens, because it is effective.

I tend to use the metronome a lot more than you do. For at least three more reasons:

1) Gradual speeding up of difficult sections. You start at 60, then work your way up to 200.

2) Polyrhythm. For 3-against-4, you set the metronome at either the 3 or the 4 and work on fitting other rhythm to "sync up" at the right places.

3) The "bell" function. Get students to practice matching the downbeats of every measure. It helps them feel 3/4 vs. 6/8 vs. 4/4 and so on. Get the sense of meter in their playing.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 04:22 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano

I tend to use the metronome a lot more than you do. For at least three more reasons:

1) Gradual speeding up of difficult sections. You start at 60, then work your way up to 200.

2) Polyrhythm. For 3-against-4, you set the metronome at either the 3 or the 4 and work on fitting other rhythm to "sync up" at the right places.

3) The "bell" function. Get students to practice matching the downbeats of every measure. It helps them feel 3/4 vs. 6/8 vs. 4/4 and so on. Get the sense of meter in their playing.


I agree on 2 and 3, but here's a take on 1) I found useful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9X4h-cY1uw&spfreload=10
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 04:27 PM

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 performanc examples of a work, even if the composer him or herself is the performer?

You ban exposure to extreme performance examples of a work UNTIL the student is able to maintain a steady internal pulse.

It's interesting you put Debussy up as an example. One student (not mine) at a recent performance workshop played that piece with capricious changes of rhythm. His teacher blamed Youtube. I agree.

As a teacher, you have to make the judgment call. You have to provide students with proper guidance at the right time. There will be a time when listening to composer's own rendition of a work might be appropriate. Also, I wouldn't take a composer's performance of his own work to be THE definitive way of playing a piece. You can gain ideas and insights, but you're certainly not obligated to parrot them all.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 04:43 PM


OMG, if I am this verbose 90% of my students will quit piano. I can't sit through all of it.

I offer two counterarguments--

1) You slow down difficult sections intentionally so that all the notes and fingerings will be accounted for. You also have to account for possible wide leaps and big chords that may take extra time to prepare.

2) There are times when you do reach a physical (or mental) limit on how fast you can play a section. If that limit is reached, you simply play the entire piece at that tempo (e.g., Chopin Op. 10 No. 1). Going any faster than your physical (or mental) limitation is pure stupidity.

There are also times where you must adjust to faster and faster metronome markings. For example, a fingering that works all good and fine at a slower tempo might not work at 200. Sometimes a very outlandish fingering may have to be deployed. Also, you may have to "group" more notes into one broad movement. You discover this as you practice faster and faster.

However, these are extreme examples from very advanced music. Most of the stuff students play won't even reach what we're discussing here. If they can't physically or mentally play at 144, they need more practice!
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 05:04 PM

He does ramble on a bit. There is some good content included. In general I dislike watching videos unless there's a visual reason, like demonstrating a physical motion. I can read a page in a minute or two, rather than spend 15 or 20 watching.

But I digress.

You don't have to worry about speed walls, you already have a mature technique. A lot of what he says wouldn't apply to you but might to a student.

If I can't play something technically, to work on it I have to simplify it. One way is to slow it way down. But that's not the only way, though beginners think it is. You can shorten it as much as you need, for example.

Quote
For example, a fingering that works all good and fine at a slower tempo might not work at 200.


Yes, that's what he claims in the video - further, that practicing too long at the slow tempo may well solidify that fingering that can never work at the fast one. At the least it's time wasted learning technique that will have to unlearned later.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 10:23 PM

Originally Posted by keystring
[How many of us, as students, have ended up vaguely mucking about? And did so for years?

ALL students muck things up without a teacher. The only questions are:

How bad does it get?
How long does it take?

It is absolutely invaluable to understand that you can set 6 beats for 3/4, or three beats, or one.

Or if you have 16th notes, you can set 16 beats.

All advanced students understand this. A student who does not can't use the metronome effectively.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 10:24 PM

Originally Posted by TimR


You don't have to worry about speed walls, you already have a mature technique.

Every player on the planet struggles with speed walls. A speed wall simply means there is something you can't play as fast as you want to play it.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/23/19 10:31 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano

However, these are extreme examples from very advanced music. Most of the stuff students play won't even reach what we're discussing here. If they can't physically or mentally play at 144, they need more practice!

Regardless, fingering is the bedrock of technique, and there is not a student on the planet who will make the best choices without help. You cannot know what fingering will work at top speed before you are able to play top speed, but a good teacher will already be thinking ahead to that.

There is irony here. If you want to test the fingering of a Chopin Etude, you won't know for sure it is going to work until you finally get it up to tempo. That's why we have teachers. The TEACHERS should know already, from THEIR experience, what fingering we start using, at slow tempo, will work later when we can go full speed.

That's why bad teachers are a disaster, and I have a horrible teacher in high school. She told to just work things out on my own. She was the WORST...
Posted By: keystring

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/24/19 01:37 AM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by keystring
[How many of us, as students, have ended up vaguely mucking about? And did so for years?

ALL students muck things up without a teacher. The only questions are:

How bad does it get?
How long does it take?

With the resources available these days, the judicious student will probably do better in this regard on their own than the student with a mediocre or worse or careless teacher. I know that you are assuming good teaching here. I mentioned the teaching that a quarter note "is" a beat, which mixes up two concepts. I've seen students who had to sort out and re-understand things they were taught - often as shortcuts to quickly get at the music - and had to get out of the resulting muddle. A typical student will trust that he is being guided and won't double check what he's taught, trusting that it's true, and his learning is then based on that. If you're learning on your own, you might double- and triple-check your information. You might even come to PianoWorld and slog through this thread. wink

The best of worlds is to have a good and competent teacher who, on top of it, not only has that knowledge, but cares to impart it to every student up to where it is possible for that student. If on top of this you have a diligent student who actually works with the teacher, you have the best of worlds (and a rare occurrence from what I've learned to understand. wink )

Quote


It is absolutely invaluable to understand that you can set 6 beats for 3/4, or three beats, or one.

Or if you have 16th notes, you can set 16 beats.

That makes perfect sense to me.
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/24/19 02:03 AM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

However, these are extreme examples from very advanced music. Most of the stuff students play won't even reach what we're discussing here. If they can't physically or mentally play at 144, they need more practice!

Regardless, fingering is the bedrock of technique, and there is not a student on the planet who will make the best choices without help. You cannot know what fingering will work at top speed before you are able to play top speed, but a good teacher will already be thinking ahead to that.

There is irony here. If you want to test the fingering of a Chopin Etude, you won't know for sure it is going to work until you finally get it up to tempo. That's why we have teachers. The TEACHERS should know already, from THEIR experience, what fingering we start using, at slow tempo, will work later when we can go full speed.

That's why bad teachers are a disaster, and I have a horrible teacher in high school. She told to just work things out on my own. She was the WORST...


Although I basically agree, this is slightly disrupted if the teacher has very different hands to the pupil, for example the teacher has very small hands and the pupil very large hands and vice versa.

My opinion is that as a teacher, one might consider offering a couple of alternative fingerings and let the pupil decide. This then also gives the pupil some practise in evaluating fingerings rather than just accepting what is given to them.

This of course assumes that there is more than one fingering possible. If there isn't, or it's not appropriate, then scrap the above statement. I'm talking about situations where more than one is acceptable.

Also, I think this might only apply to fairly experienced pupils, not beginners.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/24/19 10:22 AM


Originally Posted by Zaphod


Although I basically agree, this is slightly disrupted if the teacher has very different hands to the pupil, for example the teacher has very small hands and the pupil very large hands and vice versa.

Are you making this point as a student or as a teacher? If you teach you will find out that most of the time good fingering is pretty standard. I was say probably 95% of the time what works for one works for all. The other 5% of the time, however, is terribly important.

For instance, I doubt you will find even one important variation in the fingerings for all standard major and minor scales, both hands.
Quote

My opinion is that as a teacher, one might consider offering a couple of alternative fingerings and let the pupil decide. This then also gives the pupil some practise in evaluating fingerings rather than just accepting what is given to them.

I always mention all possible fingerings whenever there is a choice. But I'm also very careful to mention when something seems to be working slowly when I know it won't work at a fast tempo. Tempo is the most important determiner of finger, that and pedal.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/24/19 02:59 PM

Originally Posted by Gary D.

If you teach you will find out that most of the time good fingering is pretty standard. I was say probably 95% of the time what works for one works for all. The other 5% of the time, however, is terribly important...


I'm probably in that 5% -- my fingers won't fit between the black keys.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/24/19 08:44 PM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by Gary D.

If you teach you will find out that most of the time good fingering is pretty standard. I was say probably 95% of the time what works for one works for all. The other 5% of the time, however, is terribly important...


I'm probably in that 5% -- my fingers won't fit between the black keys.



You need a bigger piano. wink

I've only run into this a couple times, so for me as a teacher it's very unusual. I'll just say that you and I don't use the same fingering for chromatic scales. wink
Posted By: TimR

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/25/19 01:43 AM

Or maybe Wicki-Hayden.

(I might have misspelled that from memory, didn't look it up.)
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/25/19 08:22 PM

Originally Posted by Gary D.

Are you making this point as a student or as a teacher? If you teach you will find out that most of the time good fingering is pretty standard. I was say probably 95% of the time what works for one works for all. The other 5% of the time, however, is terribly important.


I think I'd agree with that, depending of course on the type of music.

Originally Posted by Gary D.
For instance, I doubt you will find even one important variation in the fingerings for all standard major and minor scales, both hands.


If you're being specific and saying how many scales are there where both hands have alternative fingerings, then not many. However, certainly in my scale book, quite a few have alternate fingerings for the left hand, and the double thirds have standard fingerings and also two group fingerings. Also, in my Henle Urtext book of Schubert impromptus, there are a few places where alternative fingerings are given in brackets.

Originally Posted by Gary D.
I always mention all possible fingerings whenever there is a choice. But I'm also very careful to mention when something seems to be working slowly when I know it won't work at a fast tempo. Tempo is the most important determiner of finger, that and pedal.


Again, I'd agree.
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/28/19 11:25 AM

Originally Posted by Gary D.

I have one question to you: why do you always write as if you're the only guy in the universe who understands anything, and the rest of us are fools that might finally catch up to you in 1000 years?
This is nothing more than cheap demagoguery, unworthy of a serious music teacher!

Originally Posted by Gary D.
and taki-taki-takita is not a magic trick that suddenly will solve all rhythm problems.
There is nothing magical here: I clearly separate the counting language from the rhythmic language; Hindus were apparently the first to do it thousands of years ago Indeed, English is the most rhythmic of the languages ​​I know, however, the level of percussivity of its sound does not reach either Connacol or Scat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAF7e_uRcq0

For several years I led in Jerusalem Music Academy the first part of a two-year course of rhythmic feeling development based on scat. The second year of this course was led by a teacher drummer using Konnacol. So the matter is familiar to me from the inside .
It is worth recalling that, according to Orff’s system, children are also obliged to play percussion. That is , how it is: to play percussion is educational, to pronounce percussion isn't?


Originally Posted by Gary D.
You can call it anything you want, but if the people you are working with are not used to this rhythm, it will be new. Some people will pick it up in seconds, others will take longer,
A serious discussion about the pedagogical approach requires argumentation with facts; in our musical case, audio or video recordings. Here is what I have collected over the past week:

https://yadi.sk/d/OSnTW-DblBg3tg

The age of children varies from 6 to 14 years. A part of them only in recent weeks began to learn music and playing the piano. For all of them, work on the rhythm, of course 7/8, is a completely unfamiliar area.
Very clearly heard the rhythm of the pronunciation of "taka -tiki" - in relation to "one - two ,one - two."
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Question for Teachers - Metronome or Not? - 01/29/19 10:14 AM

Originally Posted by Nahum
, English is the most rhythmic of the languages ​​I know, however, the level of percussivity of its sound does not reach either Connacol or Scat.

Refers, of course, to the rhythmic counting .
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