I Got Rhythm

March 14, 2010

Or at least more understanding of it than before.

I utilized my practice time over the last three days to focus on rhythm, specifically on using the metronome. I played quarter note scales to varying tempi, I played eighth note scales to the same tempi. I intermingled quarter and eighth notes in the same scale, again to various tempi.

Then I went back to the beginning of volume 1 and played Twinkle, Twinkle in time with the metronome. I was astonished at how long the half notes were in relation to the quarter notes. I played it at medium setting and then played it slower and then played it faster. Next I repeated this exercise with French Folk Song. Each time I missed the metronome mark I'd stop and replay, sometimes setting the metronome to a slower tempo.

So as not to burn myself out on this remedial work I only practices for 20 or 30 minutes at a stretch, but both Saturday and today I practiced multiple times. This afternoon I was very successful in playing in time for several different tempi on some of the early pieces in the Suzuki book.

I now get what rhythm means. I still have a lot of work to do to make my sense of tempo an innate thing, but knowing that I need to build my understanding of each new piece on the foundation of its rhythm will make a huge difference. Already I've been able to progress to the first repeat in Minuet in C rhythmically correct. My intonation needs some work, as do fluid slurs - but the piece has a good foundation for me to build upon.

I owe many thanks to Sibylle for her patient explanations and help over the past week or so as I have struggled to incorporate the metronome and proper rhythm into my playing. On the whole I like  the Suzuki method but I think it would benefit from practice tempo recordings of the pieces in addition to the performance tempo ones already on the CD. Moreover, I think the method should introduce metronome far sooner.

Tomorrow I'll start Rigadoon, and Happy Farmer over again. This time breaking them down rhythmically first and only playing them at a pace where I can maintain the correct rhythm.

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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.