Rythm Problem

March 21, 2018, 1:34 PM · Hello.
I’ve been learning violin since 1.5 years and my teacher complains that I have a terrible rythm problem.
I have a bad tendency of speeding up the pace gradually as I play the piece and to play half beat less when I play minims and dotted minims.
I can stay in beat if I keep counting inside my head, but that often comes at the cost jeopardising the beauty of the piece.
I can get the rythm right after the ruining the piece 20 times, but the next day, the problem starts to haunt me again. I require a permanent fix to this problem.
What do I do?

Replies (14)

March 21, 2018, 2:26 PM · Get a metronome and learn how to use it. Introducing an accelerando (speeding up) is very common but it can be cured with a good metronome that keeps you on the beat.

I have the same tendency to speed up during practice and I use the metronome a lot. You are not alone.

March 21, 2018, 7:48 PM · If you have a smart phone you can get a metronome app for it. You need to use it for everything. And for a long time. Then gradually your internal clock with establish itself. It's like intonation, it just takes some time to develop the ear to know what whole steps and half steps should sound like.
March 21, 2018, 9:03 PM · I have a lot of steps I have to do to fix tempo/rhythm problems with students.

Your teacher should be helping you with creative solutions rather than simply telling you what's wrong.

With that said, using a metronome will probably help.

Some of the other solutions I use include these:

Walk while you play (play with your steps)

March in place while you play

Tap your foot while you play

Subdividing when it's logical to do so


Long story short, your teacher needs to make solutions and if he can't, it's time to move on.

March 21, 2018, 10:45 PM · Time is, "The most indispensable, hardest and principal thing in music.” W. Mozart

Beethoven, as his pupil Ferdinand Ries relates, “kept time like a metronome,”

Learn to play with the metronome.
Make it your best friend, since it doesn't lie.

Edited: March 22, 2018, 3:13 AM ·

Is this a rhythm problem, or a teacher issue?

I find rhythm one of the easiest things to teach: you make the student count for two bars, and then play two bars without counting loudly, but in the mind, and then STOP, and then repeat previous bars, and do this 3 times, and then move to other rhythms or stop all together. The STOPPING is the important part, you must STOP after two bars and then count for two bars. This teaches someone the concept of rhythm: think first, act second. Once you have learned the concept of rhythm than rhythm becomes easier.

All teachers are great in the beginning, but it's how they act when you do something incorrectly determines how go they are. Ignoring poor technique or over-correcting are most often teacher issues, not the students. When I find myself over-correcting a student, I know that it is a sign that I am doing something wrong and I need to change the approach. If a teacher is not correcting poor technique, then they are ignoring it. If they are constantly ignoring technique they will never be good at teaching, just good a being passive aggressive.

March 22, 2018, 8:36 AM · "All teachers are great in the beginning..."

Hmmm...not sure about that. Actually, I could say the same thing about students: a few lessons and the honeymoon is over.

Rhythmic steadiness is difficult for everyone, and many of my students rush habitually as they play through a piece (or scale or etude, whatever). Rushing is probably one of the things that get people eliminated at professional auditions, and even orchestral professionals can rush. Unless the music is slow, in which case they drag.

Steadiness is a lifelong pursuit. Self-awareness helps, as does being corrected at lessons. But I think the two things that help the most in the long run are the habitual use of the metronome, and playing in ensembles. I think that kids that take part in school or youth orchestras tend to develop better steadiness than those that don't. I know I did.

March 23, 2018, 6:26 AM · Two "tricks":
- Practice pizzicato, but with a rounded motion between each note, the size of the "circle" being proportional to the desired length of the note.
- Introduce a slight scoop, or swinging motion into your bow strokes, so that the strokes have depth as well as length.
Edited: March 23, 2018, 11:19 AM · Why do you speed up? Do you know why? Think about it.

In spite of all the decades I have been playing I have a tendency to speed up when I play in an ensemble of others who are less familiar with the music. I have certain mentally set tempos for certain music and if it is not going at that speed I will have a tendency to try to get it to the "right" tempo. (I know I have for 70 years because even when I was a teen and playing pieces I had never heard I was surprised years later when I actually heard recordings to find those were the speed they were supposed to be played.)

One way to avoid this is to subdivide the tempo further in your mind until you get it to a "beat" that matches your internal rhythm. If you do this just be careful not to play jerkily!

However as you continue to do this subdividing always remember how helpful it would be to be able to have more time between your mental beats - steadily. You want to strive for that.

And foot tapping is well-nigh ubiquitous, but it is more polite to learn do it inside your shoe. I've noticed that different players seem to find their rhythm at different toe heights and it is very disconcerting to see a toe hitting the floor between the beats. The "Peterson BodyBeat" is a metronome with an attachment you can put on your leg (calf) to feel the beat without having to hear the sound. With some practice it might induce precise foot tapping. Of course, we are told not to tap our feet - but!!!

March 23, 2018, 10:55 AM · Clap the rhythm whilst counting the beats aloud. If you are not playing in time, sort out the rhythm BEFORE picking up the violin.

Cheers Carlo

March 23, 2018, 1:02 PM · I'd personally have you work through "String Builder" #1 and part of #2 (samuel applebaum), and having you verbally count 1, 2, 3, 4 through every single exercise.

Metronomes only work for people who can use them, and if your natural sense of rhythm is too far off, you won't be able to just jump on using one.

So a nice step into this natural sense of rhythm is to verbally count as you play, because it makes you acutely aware of how often your downbeats are actually occurring, and keeps the downbeat at the forefront of your mind (rather than letting it drift away by prioritizing what your bow or fingers are doing). Also, I make my students focus on *verbally counting* in String Builder as their #1 priority. This means that intonation and tonal quality all go to the back of our priority list, while counting out loud goes to the front. The intonation and tonal quality can come in later, but if you try to do them all at once you will never develop a solid sense of rhythm and tempo.

You should probably also work through some of the "I can read music" books while STILL focusing on verbally counting as your #1 priority.

March 23, 2018, 4:03 PM · People often clap "out of time". I would suspect counting could suffer the same effect and be out of time as well. When I was young, I was advised to get a metronome. I was insulted, but was shocked when I couldn't play with it. It gets easier when you learn to use it. If rhythm is an issue, then learning to play in time is a most important priority. As Duke Ellington said, "It Don't Mean a Thing if it ain't got that swing".
March 23, 2018, 5:55 PM · I have an app recommendation for you " Rhythm Sightreading Trainer". A few minutes a day works wonders in learning to keep a steady pulse and of sigh-treading rhythm. All done away from the instrument. It has worked wonders for my students.
Edited: March 23, 2018, 6:58 PM · The graduate version of rhythm training is Mozart, Handel, and Beethoven slow movements.

@Jeff, Ellington wrote the tune. Irving Mills wrote the lyrics. :)

March 24, 2018, 9:09 AM · Yes, and the lyrics were an expression of a sentiment which prevailed among jazz musicians at the time.

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