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Best Ways to Practice Rhythm/Timing?
Topic Started: 19 Apr 2017, 01:40 AM (176 Views)
LillyDragon
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*sips tea*
(If this isn't the appropriate forum for a question, I'd be okay if a mod moved it. c: )

Hello again, TON, I'm really enjoying music theory! However, one hurdle I really want to tackle early on is rhythm. It's likely one of the most important things I need to read music sheets effectively. (Especially songs I'm not familiar with, or have hummed for like a decade or longer.)

Only problem is I've been in a bit of a learning slump researching how to best approach it. While Metronome on Android has been more than resourceful as a timing reference for music sheets, I want to know how to grow beyond that dependency. I want to learn how to handle it subconsciously, if that's possible. Then, maybe only need a metronome for learning unfamiliar BPMs.

There's so much I want to study on this topic, but Google's making it a bit difficult by clogging my search results with material that's not really helpful to musicians. It could be I don't know how to ask the right questions here. I'm still a music newbie and not only learn new things every day; I also learn about other music theory topics I need to study. (A metaphorical ocean that keeps going deeper is more fun, though.) My problem might be I don't know where to start. :X

So how did all y'all on TON develop your internal sense of rhythm? Click tracks? Sheer amounts of practice and experimentation? Do you try your best for solos and simply go with the flow while playing with others? Is foot-tapping like a pair of training wheels? Or is there a point where humans struggle to stay on time through 100% of a song? Is sight-reading only fast for sheets you've studied for some time, or does it get easier as you read more sheets?
Edited by LillyDragon, 19 Apr 2017, 01:41 AM.
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jordan.1210
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Transverse Ocarinist x 2
Before ocarina, I played clarinet for nine year in school bands so I learned to play sheet music through that. Rhythm hasn't always been my strong suit and I'm not the best sight reader but I can make do. I'd say the most important thing is to break down the measure into the individual beats then find the subdivision that fits the given melody. If it's a fast song, try taking it slow and building up to the tempo of the actual song. While many would advise against it, sometimes I find the best way to learn a rhythm is to hear how it is supposed to sound and learn from it.

As for the questions you asked, my band director insisted on tapping your foot to find the beat and upbeats and most people I play with now (I play in my college's pepband and saxophone group) use foot tapping to keep time. Learning to sight read effectively will take some time since you will need to learn all the skill and what to look for (tempo, time signature, key signature, rhythms, notes, jumps in the song like D.S. and D.C., articulations, dynamics (not so important with ocarina), etc.)

If you want, I can try to teach what I know :P I might not be the best but I should be able to teach the basics
Edited by jordan.1210, 19 Apr 2017, 10:55 AM.
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Kae
Transverse Ocarinist x 3
My middle school band teacher had us practice counting in our heads. Even now I can't help but think one and two and three and four and one and two.... And being the upbeats. She had us use the heel of our foot because she felt the extra weight helped keep in time but my high school director had us use the toe end of our foot because he thought the leg gets tired if you use the heel and then you would lose time.
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Kitten Forest
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Double Ocarinist
I find that practicing while listening to a track of the song helps me. If I'm really having trouble with it, then I'll write it out in Musescore to figure out how timing should go, especially with songs I know from memory. Timing has always been a struggle for me and I usually get by listening to whoever I'm playing with, but I still find playing alone difficult if I haven't practiced with the proper timing.
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carbon
Lurker
Listen to music you like. Find the beat/rhythm. Tap your foot to it - or perhaps try to dance to the beat. Don't worry about dancing well, just trying to stay on beat. You could also try going to a drum circle, where you can literally feel the beat. You could also try picking up a percussion instrument, which will get you thinking about things in that context. I started playing the cas cas/asalato/kashaka a while ago and it got me really thinking about beats and such. It got me listening to a lot more music and listening differently.

If you want to learn difficult rhythms, I can make suggestions too - but for simply keeping time - I think the above will help.
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Comrade_Derpsky
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Pendant Ocarinist x 4
I've found trying to tap out the rhythm to be helpful, but my most effective method for learning a songs rhythm is still to hear how the song is supposed to sound. If I know how the song is supposed to sound, even fairly complex sheet music makes sense to me. I can't play anything other than simple songs from sheet music without having heard the melody first. Playing straight from sheet music is hard. :/
Edited by Comrade_Derpsky, 19 Apr 2017, 04:12 PM.
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Gyzyn
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Triple Ocarinist x 4
You've got a metronome, yeah? Every good musician I ever talked to said that there is no better tool for your technique than your metronome. As for being dependent on it, that's a good thing, you can't just "learn a BPM" as you akwardly put it. You should practice with your metronome as often as you can whether you practice reading sheet music, or a song you know by heart. After enough practice, it's just going to click in your brain and you won't need a metronome to perform, neither should you ever perform with it. A gig to a click would be a truly bizarre show.
Edited by Gyzyn, 19 Apr 2017, 07:30 PM.
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LillyDragon
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*sips tea*
Late reply because of finals and homework catching up to me. I have some free time for a lengthy reply now! :fly:

I have the Metronome app, yes. As for "learning", I meant something along the lines of practicing it, so, apologies for the bad wording there. :X

That said, I appreciate all of your replies! Each of you helped steer me in the right direction with additional reading, and I've come to the conclusion that foot tapping isn't a bad habit or a crutch; I was gravely overthinking it. (I like to be sure I'm practicing with proven techniques, though.) What I'd like to do, if it works for me, is use foot-tapping or the metronome for practicing a new song, then easy off of it as I grow more familiar with playing it. Rinse and repeat per song. I guess I'll see how I find my flow in the rhythm with time and practice. c:

This Stack Exchange thread was a nice read. I wouldn't have found it if you guys hadn't seeded these thoughts in my mind.

jordan.1210
19 Apr 2017, 10:49 AM
Before ocarina, I played clarinet for nine year in school bands so I learned to play sheet music through that. Rhythm hasn't always been my strong suit and I'm not the best sight reader but I can make do. I'd say the most important thing is to break down the measure into the individual beats then find the subdivision that fits the given melody. If it's a fast song, try taking it slow and building up to the tempo of the actual song. While many would advise against it, sometimes I find the best way to learn a rhythm is to hear how it is supposed to sound and learn from it.

As for the questions you asked, my band director insisted on tapping your foot to find the beat and upbeats and most people I play with now (I play in my college's pepband and saxophone group) use foot tapping to keep time. Learning to sight read effectively will take some time since you will need to learn all the skill and what to look for (tempo, time signature, key signature, rhythms, notes, jumps in the song like D.S. and D.C., articulations, dynamics (not so important with ocarina), etc.)


One music teacher I follow on YouTube emphasizes the importance of playing slowly, so one can develop the muscle memory needed to play faster in the first place. That makes a lot of sense to me, after all the time I've spent learning to switch to certain notes on the ocarina faster.

Thanks for the answer! Your post also encouraged me to find and read some interesting debates on foot-tapping, which led me Google the questions I didn't know how to ask for some other answers I wanted. So +5 for your reply. c:

Now, foot-tapping in general doesn't sound particularly black and white in the music world. Some players say it "disturbs performances with other people", and others say that stuffy teachers saying such things drain all the fun in making or playing music. It was interesting to read more perspectives on that topic.

As well, staying *perfectly* on-time depends on the genre? I watched a neat video by Adam Neely where he described that classical musicians could afford to be (somewhat) loose with their timing, because the instruments attacks were softer. He said something to the effect of how impossible it is to get away with that in modern genres, because all the hard attacks being out of sync creates a lot of "dissonance". I wonder what people here on TON make of classical vs modern rhythm?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEbUNDW9bDA

It's interesting to learn how different classical music was played compared to today. Even their tuning was slightly different. (A4 at 415hz compared to modern-day 440hz.)

carbon
19 Apr 2017, 03:28 PM
You could also try picking up a percussion instrument, which will get you thinking about things in that context. I started playing the cas cas/asalato/kashaka a while ago and it got me really thinking about beats and such. It got me listening to a lot more music and listening differently.


That's a nice suggestion! I've been trying to think of how I would add percussion to ocarina covers anyway, since it's key to a lot of music, and in general, adds so much texture to a song. Maybe I should look into drum instruments that are as obscure as the ocarina? It might be fun to make arrangements solely with non-conventional instruments. :grin:

Kae
19 Apr 2017, 11:59 AM
My middle school band teacher had us practice counting in our heads. Even now I can't help but think one and two and three and four and one and two.... And being the upbeats. She had us use the heel of our foot because she felt the extra weight helped keep in time but my high school director had us use the toe end of our foot because he thought the leg gets tired if you use the heel and then you would lose time.


I read a post on another forum that similarly agrees with toe tapping. Sounds a lot easier in practice than using the heel, and possibly quieter too. Heel taps have enough weight to them that it might be loud enough to "disrupt" the stage, like some musicians described.

One poster also said they tapped their toes inside their shoe to keep rhythm, which I thought was very creative. My right foot would cramp up trying to do that, but it's a great solution if anyone else's feet don't have the quirks mine does! The audience would be none the wiser if they believed your sense of rhythm was all in your head. >:3
Edited by LillyDragon, Yesterday, 4:28 AM.
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