Counting and using metronome help

October 11, 2017, 1:07 AM · Hi everyone, I've been learning to play the violin for about 18 months but I am struggling with counting and playing along with a metronome on harder pieces.

As an example I have been doing a few folks pieces that are all pretty much quavers so I count with a noise in my head kind of just saying da da da da and can play along with the metronome.

However with some of the more complicated music I don't really know how to count, I know the note values but I struggle with what to count in my head, as an example in 4/4 say it's crotchet,crotchet,quaver quaver,crotchet should I count 1,2,3 & 4, or just 1,2,3,4. Or break it down to 1&2&3&4&.
I need to sort this out because I avoid counting properly and practicing with a metronome.
Any advice would be appreciated as I haven't had a lesson in the last month and not sure when my next one is going to be
Thanks
Ben

Replies (14)

October 11, 2017, 2:07 AM · On a harder piece you could break it down to focusing on one meaure at a time. For example,if your metronome was set to play four beats per measure you could break it down to sixteen beats per measure which is a slower tempo to count out the more tricky note patterns.
October 11, 2017, 2:26 AM ·

Generally you should ||: count for 2 bars ,then play for 2 bars STOP :|| repeat.
The stopping part is what's important.

October 11, 2017, 3:28 AM · @jeff, so In your example I should break down the tricky parts until I can play them at a slower tempo counting sixteen beats per measure, then when I can do that I should start trying to play it counting four beats per measure?
October 11, 2017, 3:55 AM · One of the generally recommended techniques is to sing or tap through your rhythms before putting bow to string. All your mental bandwidth can go to the rhythms then.
October 11, 2017, 10:44 AM · You may find this chart helpful. It uses US terminology, but it should be pretty self explanatory. Rhythm Chart
October 11, 2017, 4:49 PM · I think that if you are having a hard time with getting the measure to fit on the correct metronome beats it might help to break it down to more beats per measure until the pattern makes sense to you and you work it out to fit right. By taking a 4/4 measure and and turning it into a sixteen beat measure it allows you tick each note with a beat, but some notes might be one beat or three or four beats. This does incredibly slow the tempo of the tune down and besides helping your rhythm I think it is good for tone production exercise.
Edited: October 11, 2017, 6:15 PM · I'm terrible too with a metronome and counting. Sometimes I don't hear the beat of the metronome and for me counting an 8th note, or multiples of, among quarters becomes a matter of coordination.
October 12, 2017, 4:19 AM · The Rhythm Chart linked in by Krista should help you "get rid of" the da da da stuff. (You need to know where you are in the bar.)

Just two more bits of my personal dogma: (1) You absolutely must learn to count the rhythms, so keep at it; (2) you absolutely must learn to hear and play with the metronome, so keep at it. Fortunately, these two habits are pretty easily developed, once you commit to them.

Once the music gets tough, counting well is your best friend, and doubly so if you have to sight read your way to happiness.

October 12, 2017, 5:20 PM · Jim, if you are using your phone or tablet for metronome app then you can plug it or bluetooth it to your stereo or TV and then you can really jack up the volume.
October 12, 2017, 7:05 PM · Identify where the downbeats occur in the sheet music, and draw vertical arrows to identify them. Sometimes the arrows will point between two notes, and sometimes they'll point directly at a note. But by visualizing identifying where to expect the "tick" of the metronome in the sheet music, you'll have a much better grasp of the rhythm.
October 12, 2017, 7:24 PM · The important thing is to keep the rhythm.

It doesn't matter what is going on inside your head; no one else knows unless you count out loud or visibly tap your foot.

Keep count any way that works for you.

Practice slowly.

Many people have some natural rhythms. Mine are 90 and 120 ppm. I suggest finding yours and start your counting practice around those. Subdivide as much as you need to to keep steady and close to one of your natural rhythms ( 1,2,3,4, 1&2&3&4&, 1&a,2&a,3&a4&a or 1e&a,2e&a,3e&a,4e&a or whatever fits).

October 13, 2017, 12:38 AM · Hi thanks for all the advice, now I feel like I'm going in the right direction, on another note does anyone know of any useful Android apps?
Thanks
Ben
Edited: October 13, 2017, 5:52 AM · just do a app search for violin, tuner or metronome- all kinds of stuff comes up. Here's what I use:

Cradenza - chromatic tuner

Tuner by plusadd - chromatic tuner (like this one best)

Udemy - music theory course (I like Dr. Jason Allen's course)

Note Trainer - is a pretty cool app if you need note sight reading improvement.

Musescore Songbook- sheet music and playback (totally free and has app for computer to write and playback notes- all FREE)

not sure if all are available on Android- here for android:

Metronome Beats

gStrings - now for all instruments

Edited: October 13, 2017, 8:28 PM · Basic percussionist’s rhythm book works for learning to subdivide, which is often lost in metronome dependent instrument work. Also, one of the things you learn in university courses is to break a line down and start seeing which notes are ornamental. Often, things that look complicated are nothing more than ornaments that have been written out. For an example, compare Couperin to Bach. Couperin left much to the player, while Bach was scrupulous in writing everything (nearly) out.
Once you have a sense of ornamentation, the rhythms make much more sense.

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