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new year target - pulse and rhythm - any ideas?

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#16 maggiemay



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Posted 14 January 2022 - 22:04

Thanks for asking Maggiemay! Well, I bought the Rhythm Bible (second hand, so I was pleased) and am working my way through it. I actually think I don't have too much of a problem - or maybe no worse than the general amateur out there. Maybe I expect too much - thinking that I can just sight read rhythm without making any mistakes or making much effort.... I absolutely try now to go through new music (or even old music) before I start to play, working out awkward bars and notes. My default attitude is just to pick up my instrument and go for it and work it out as I go along and I just wonder how many pros/profis out there do that? You for instance, Maggiemay, I see that you have lots of music degrees and teaching experience. Would you expect just to be able to 'do it' on sight? I would be really interested to know...


Well. That’s a really good question …. and the short answer is no, I wouldn’t really expect just to be able to ‘do it’ on sight. 

In reality of course, there is no simple answer. You could almost say there are as many approaches as there are sight-readers! But in general I think that pretty much everyone has to do a bit of ‘nitty-gritty’ sorting out of the tricky bars. And the more thoughtful and careful this process is, the more satisfactory the end result tends to be. Repeated playing ‘all through’ is mostly not your friend: ten minutes spent on a few complicated bars can pay dividends. And one such session may not be enough.

What can happen too is that a student tries to start too quickly with an new piece of music. The first line is almost never the trickiest part, of course.  So what happens when the more demanding bars come along ……… the pulse slows to accommodate the passage. Even if those tricky bars are partly sorted out, you may still need to practise well under speed in order to incorporate them securely. 

Just a few rather random thoughts - hope something there helps. 

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#17 Maruja


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Posted 15 January 2022 - 10:14

Thank you for that thoughtful answer - I have started something similar. Giving myself say, half an hour, to do my practice, which is nowhere near enough, and therefore, instead of 'playing through' a piece, I go to the parts which I have marked up (either tricky notes or awkward rhythm) and practise them first of all. If I then have enough time at the end, I will play more of the piece that I actually am quite good at. That seems to be working. 

Of course I suppose that how much you can just 'do it' depends on your experience and the level of difficulty of the music. But it is heartening to read that pretty much everyone needs to spend time at the outset either working things through or refamiliarizing themselves with the piece.

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