Rhythm Work

March 10, 2010

I devoted almost all of my practice tonight to rhythm work. Since I find it almost impossible to hear my metronome over the sound of the cello I turned it's volume down and just watched the needle tic-toc its way back and forth.

Playing Rigadoon at 80 I was able, after about an hour, to more or less stay in time with the beat. I did discover what I am doing that makes me play too soon. When I count in my head for a dotted-quarter note, I count "1, 2, 3" and then start the next note immediately. I don't wait until "4." I was surprised at how long a wait there was between when I finished the dotted quarter note and proper time to start the next note in the piece.

I fear that the only way I'll be able to adjust Rigadoon, and other pieces where I currently short-change the longer notes is by memorizing little pauses and slightly longer notes. Trying to retrofit the proper rhythm on them will take hours. Instead I would rather learn my new pieces properly, starting with the rhythm and gradually adding more and more of the piece to my practice so that I can play it correctly from the start.

I did try to use the 50% speed copied I made earlier, but 50% is too slow. At least for Rigadoon. 75% of original speed would be better. Why the Suzuki people don't include a practice tempo track along side the performance tempo one is beyond me.

Tomorrow is my last lesson for two weeks, as my teacher observes Spring Break next week. I need to make sure I come away from that time with a good set of attainable goals. And regardless of what assignments I'm given, I am going to incorporate 10 or so minutes at the start of each practice to playing scales in time with a metronome, working up from quarter notes, to eighth notes, to mixed quarter and eighth notes, and so on.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.