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Practice with a Metronome and Tuner

Beginner metronome learner sightreading practice

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#1 AmateurSaxPlayer

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 23:59

Hello All.

 

Was just wandering how many people on here practice with a metronome and tuner? 

 

I find it fundamental in my practices. And use it whenever there is a piece that stipulates a time signature, most of the time starting with the metronome slowly and working to the speed that is stipulated in the book.

 

Not all songs have a time signature, so I normally start slow on the metronome and speed it up. Allowing me to endeavor to play the song correctly and to some sort of rhythm and with at least some degree of timing in the songs. (The abracadabra book has a CD, that I play along too, which also allows me to focus on the timing stipulated in the book, it can be challenging, but at least I am learning the timing as per the book)

 

I am terrible with rhythm at the moment, so my metronome really helps me to make sure that at least I am playing in time to a beat, even though it is a predominantly timed, technical beat rather than my own internal beat. 

 

I also use a tuner at times when I do my long note practice and focus on one note at a time, this allows me to make sure that I am playing in tune, and that when I am holding the notes I can focus on maintaining quality of the sound, with it being in tune and correct. Thus allowing me to work on my quality of notes as well as my long notes.

 

Does anyone else practice like this? Or have difficulties with rhythm and timing?

 

regards

 

AmateurSaxPlayer

 

 


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#2 Janne

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 08:00

Hullo!

 

Humble amateur beginner responding, so take this for what it's worth.  ;)

 

Here's an article about tuners which argues that they can be harmful:

 

 

 

In order to do that you need both a degree of skill with regard to blowing technique and an ability to hear and recognise relative differences in pitch. To put it simply, you need to be able to hear a given note and then play that note at the exact same pitch...which is what you do when tuning up, say to a piano or another horn player.
Switch a tuner on and straightaway it removes the need for this skill - and this is what happened.
Thousands of wind players bought electronic tuners and became 'addicted' to them.

 

 

 

I like to use a tuner sometimes to check whether I'm playing anywhere near in tune or not, but I wouldn't make it too important a part of your practice regime.

 

I think same applies to metronomes; they can be, and are, useful, but relying too much on them might not be so good.

 

So, IMO, when they become a sort of outsider-dictators instead of helping in internalizing the tempo or pitch - bad. Opposite - good.

 

And oh yes, quite many people have problems with tempo and rhythm! :) - in fact it seems they are one of the most difficult areas for many, if not most beginners or even more advanced musicians. Another common problem area is the pitch, and luckily there is loads of good advice scattered around the forums about both.

 

P.S.: time signature refers usually to, well, the time signature (4/4, 3/4, C etc.) in the staff, and the note=number marking above is called a metronome marking. 


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#3 JimD

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 08:18

I think for the sax in particular a tuner is useful - at least when doing long tones, slurs etc.

 

It's easy to get used to playing the 'wrong' pitch when practicing alone (especially on a less than perfect instrument), and the tuner gives you immediate feedback.

 

I use a tuner for reference for both flute and sax practice, but I don't leave it switched on all the time.


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#4 AmateurSaxPlayer

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 09:34

My apologies my first post did kind of stipulate that I use the tuner all the time, this is incorrect as it only seems useful to me when I am practicing long notes. It just aids in my control and helps in me maintaining the note and the quality of the note. Whilst I get used to what the note should (theoretically) sound like. I am terrible with the high notes so it really helps me at the moment.

 

I am getting more used to what the notes should sound like, courtesy of the tuner, and hours of practice. My friend who's grade 8 at the saxophone and clarinet, said that high notes require a degree of control and will come when my embouchure develops more and with more time spent playing the instrument, the notes have became a lot better when I upgraded the mouthpiece from the stock one to the Yamaha 4C, and will be looking at a Selmer S80 C in the next few months, or a Vandoran, which ever one I like the most and get the best sound out of. as well as changing to a harder reed, I am still on the 1.5's which are probably too soft for me now.

 

My instrument isn't of a professional standard, but it does hit the notes and sounds good enough for now, well sounds good enough for the tuner to acknowledge that the notes are correct, and my Sax teacher has played it and in his words "there are a lot worse instruments out there than mine, and its not a bad student sax by any means."

 

I am currently saving up for a Soprano Sax (Conn-Selmer Premier PSS380) and in a few years will be looking at a more intermediate standard of Alto. My current Sax will be getting a service in March (at Johnny Roadhouse in Manchester, or a place in Leigh that my friend has told me about), for my Birthday. I am thinking of doing this every couple of years to maintain its playability and its sound. 


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#5 Lemontree

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 15:16

I use/used both. However, just recently I had to realize, relying on a metronome had cost me much of a surety in beating the pulse myself throughout the piece. It is a danger to rely solely on the metronome because neither in an ensemble or an performance you can use one. Either you can beat the rhythm yourself, or you fast realize how lost you really are. It did take some serious work to remove that flaw.

 

I only use a tuner AFTER I got the tone and than check, how far I am off. And when I right on pitch I use it for a long tone, to see whether or not I can hold it steady. But otherwise, the ear is the best friend of a musician, not an electronic device.


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#6 AmateurSaxPlayer

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 16:43

Am getting better, but my musical ear needs training as much as my tone does, so the tuner is allowing me to get there. I am slowly recognizing the notes as being right, well I can get a good sounding D, B, A, G, F, F Sharp, however the low notes, E downwards and the ones above D with the octave key need some work to make sure I get them (almost) right every time.

 

Just hope that one day, I can get a very roughly Coltrane like sound. I will be smiling if I ever do. That would be the ideal, which is why long notes and things for me are so important.

 

Even if I practiced 24 hours a day I doubt I would ever get half as good.


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#7 Chris H

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 08:07

Get yourself a jazz saxophone teacher who will advise you on correct embouchure and mouthpieces for jazz. Forget doing classical exams, do the jazz ones. Learn jazz scales not classical, listen to a lot of jazz, the Jamey Aebersold books are very good for learning to improvise, but first and foremost I think you need to get jazz lessons rather than classical ones.
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#8 AmateurSaxPlayer

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 09:28

I'm not sure if my teacher is eclectic or does one or the other. He likes that I listen to Coltrane alot and tell's me to listen to as many examples of Saxophone playing that I can, classical, folk, jazz and so on. So that I can start to find a sound that I like, and will one day want to emulate.

 

He also like thats that I am determined to get a good solid sound. With long tones, a tuner and the use of a metronome.

 

Does any one recommend a good Jazz Mouthpiece? Please not one that an early days beginner will struggle with.


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#9 Arundodonuts

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 12:32

I fail to see how anyone can learn to play in tune and in time without spending some time with metronome and tuner. Both are invaluable for the long note practice you are, very sensibly, doing.

 

I find the metronome particularly useful in slow baroque pieces where there are lots of ornaments and different note lengths.

 

Your teacher sounds sensible to me. Good music is good music, whatever label you care to apply to it.


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#10 AmateurSaxPlayer

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 14:40

My teacher is really good. He gives constructive criticism and gives me focus. This helps me to improve and I can see improvements each week. He also gives me lists of saxophone videos to watch on Youtube and different players to look for, which allows me to listen to a range of different types of music. 


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#11 Chris H

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 22:03

He sounds an excellent teacher, I just thought that because you seem to love jazz, you may find it better to be taught jazz scales and modes right from the beginning. Perhaps he will introduce those soon, though. Ask him about the jazz mouthpiece, he could feel that it's better for you to wait a bit before changing your mouthpiece and embouchure.
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#12 AmateurSaxPlayer

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 23:09

He was the one Chris that told me to get the Yam 4c.

 

He said it will help me to develop my embouchure regardless of musical style and aid in developing my abilities with the sax. He said for a beginner its like a decent all rounder. And will allow me to make a decent sound out of the sax from the start, without having a poor mouthpiece, slowing me down. 

 

Tomorrow I am off to get myself a Rovner Leather Ligature 1RL, I have a decent beginner mouthpiece so I may as well have a decent ligature as well, and will ask them at the store what is a good Jazz mouthpiece, and then ask my teacher on Tuesday.

 

I can't wait to get to the lesson. It's been three weeks since my last lesson. 


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#13 Chris H

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 07:25

I think you are best off sticking with the 4c for now and choosing a jazz mouthpiece later once you are more au fait with technique. Your teacher will have recommended it as a good beginner mp for everything. Mouthpieces can be very expensive and it's not a good idea to waste your money on a mp now that you may need to change as you improve. I think you need to talk with your teacher about all this stuff.
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#14 Roseau

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 07:32

Arundodonuts, I'm not sure, on logical grounds, that I agree with you completely! I can't speak about saxophone, but since the metronome was first patented (according to Wikipedia, so it must be true...) in 1815, and Handel had no electronic gadgetry, only his famous pitch-fork tuning-fork, every Baroque woodwind master must have learnt to play in tune and in time without neither metronome nor a tuner...

 

Having said that, I'm no master, and both aids would probably do something about my awful sense of pitch, and tendency to discover I'm a beat away from where I thought I was.

Of course it is possible to learn to play without a tuner and a metronome but they do make things quicker, particularly if you don't have much opportunity to play with other people.

 

As others have said, I use a tuner for long notes and sometimes to work on an interval which is causing me problems (although this is a last resort - I have other techniques which I try first). It is much easier to improve/work on intonation when my teacher is playing alongside me but unfortunately he isn't to hand for most of the week  ;) .

 

Similarly with the metronome - in lessons my teacher will sometimes count or clap (ie be a "human metronome") and in an orchestra you have the conductor beating time. In Handel's day both of these would have been possible and were no doubt used. A metronome is a way of providing yourself with a stable pulse when you are playing by yourself.

 

I use the metronome for two things:

1) to check that I am maintaining a regular tempo throughout a piece that I think I know well. I do this before a lesson so that either I can sort out the problem bar(s) by myself and not waste time on it in a lesson or, if I'm really struggling, ask my teacher for help at the start of the lesson.

2) (as others have mentioned) to make sure a rhythmically complex bar is correctly in place.


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#15 dcvos

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 08:42

I do use a metronome and tuner. I find it difficult to concentrate on the piece and listening to the metronome at the same time. I just get too much focused on the metronome that my playing suffers from it. I use a tuner when I'm learning new notes or when I think
my clarinet doesn't sound as it should. My teacher told me that it's good to use a tuner so that you can learn how the notes have to sound. You learn what the right pitch is by listening to examples, so you can train your ears by comparing the sound you are making with that of the tuner.
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