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Mendy Smith

A Well Tempered Practice Diet - The Metronome

July 23, 2011 at 2:34 AM

 I have several metronomes:  the good old fashioned Whittner, a smaller version that can fit inside my case, a small electronic  combo tuner/metronome, and the Body Beat.  I must confess though, none of them get used as often as they should.  It is either out of sheer laziness, the need to either have to readjust the tempo frequently, stop it in areas with so many tempo changes or rubato that I don't feel its worth the effort on most days.

When I do use them, I gravitate towards the old fashioned one.  I like the mechanical click over an electronic bleep any day of the week.  I also like watching the pendulum to anticipate the beat to keep the music moving forward.  The disadvantage to it though is focusing on hearing the click or watching the pendulum on pieces that I'm not familiar with.  That is when I use the Body Beat:  nothing to take away my focus from the notes.

Tonight, I pulled out a piece that I haven't worked on in ages.  At the top of the piece, my teacher at the time wrote "TEMPO!".  Remembering how I tended to either rush through triplets or drag my favorite notes too long, I decided to play it through with the old fashioned metronome going.  The piece has no rubato and only a few tempo changes, so I had no excuse.

Things were going quite well and I was becoming quite pleased with the progress I made over the years until I got to the end of the first page and noticed I was a bit behind the beat.  It was noticeable immediately.  So I stopped and played the problem measure again - no issues.  I backtracked a measure and I was behind the beat.  

After going back and forth a few times between the problem measure and the measure leading up to it, I discovered that the half note trill with a turn before the run of 16th notes was the problem.  For some strange reason, the pickup to the problem measure got me thinking in triplets instead of 16th notes.  I took out the trills and the turn, no problem.  Then I added the trill with no turn, still no problems.  When I added the turn, I was behind the beat again.  After a few minutes working the transition, I was consistently back on the beat again.

Without the metronome, I doubt I would had ever noticed the problem to begin with.  I'm still working on that first page...

From Diane Allen
Posted on July 25, 2011 at 3:30 PM

LOVE the Body Beat! Definitely my favortie!


Smiles diane

From Jeff Terflinger
Posted on July 25, 2011 at 4:00 PM

The little box that does not lie .

From Teresa Edgar
Posted on July 29, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Hi Mendy,  This is actually in response to your previous blog post.  You mentioned Viola zombies and I thought you might like to check out this piece by Walter Mays written for 10 violas! It was recently performed at my school.  Dr. Mays is our theory professor.  Enjoy : ) 

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