Using a metronome for your practice.

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:43 pm

Crofty wrote:Any guitar playing?
There's the rub ...

Crofty
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Crofty » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:46 pm

ps
I have tried your method and the ball bouncing is going really well. Unfortunately I keep dropping my guitar.

How do your pupils do it?

Tonit
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Tonit » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:44 pm

Hi Mark,
Short answer - no.

During decades of teaching I have not once found the need to resort to the metronome. I use dance, ball bouncing, clapping games, rhythmic poetry, chanting, word chains, conducting, imitative rhythms etc., etc.

Yes, I do own a machine ... it would be stupid to rule out the possibility that someone, somewhere, having failed to acquire the necessary skill through any of the means above may somehow be miraculously enlightened through the use of a mechanical device - I have yet to meet such a creature.

Just answering the question (which I assume was directed at me) - not entering into debate regarding anyone else's use.
It somehow sounds cynical for me to call probably the most popular practice companion globally and historically as such.
I personally do not think it is a good idea to discourage ambitious students to use it, or discourage them to learn how we could creatively use and utilize one of the best used workout musical tools, and to let them consider it as the last resort of some sort that we better off not knowing how to use.

Or, could we first use all sorts of the other methods as you mentioned to explain what it does and the concept behind it, and then use it to enhance the rhythmic aspects of them?

Also I am very curious how you would perceive and explain the educational front today where you can almost always find one.

IMPO it generates varied pulses, but the pulses it generates are NOT THE rhythm that is a different story. Nevertheless I think learners (including your apprenticeship) should at least know how to use and creatively utilize the popular tool, leaving it their option as to whether they use it or not.

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Tom Poore
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Tom Poore » Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:35 am

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:During decades of teaching I have not once found the need to resort to the metronome. I use dance, ball bouncing, clapping games, rhythmic poetry, chanting, word chains, conducting, imitative rhythms etc., etc.
So during lessons you’re providing the beat for the student to model. But that doesn’t avoid what a metronome does. Rather, you’re just standing in for a metronome. That begs the question: what do your students do when they’re practicing at home and don’t have you to provide a steady beat? And why would it be bad for them to use a metronome in your absence?
Yes, I do own a machine ... it would be stupid to rule out the possibility that someone, somewhere, having failed to acquire the necessary skill through any of the means above may somehow be miraculously enlightened through the use of a mechanical device - I have yet to meet such a creature.
There’s nothing “miraculous” about the metronome. It’s a useful tool, just as an electronic tuner is a useful tool. (By the way, some musicians—not talking about you—rail against tuners.) I’ve yet to meet anyone harmed by using a metronome. Doubtless it can be misused. But that’s true of any tool. One should never judge a tool by its misuse.

Allow me a philosophic tangent. There’s another subtle use for the metronome. Many students bring negative emotional baggage to learning the guitar. They balk at things that less prickly students take in stride. They need to chill. They must gradually learn to see problems as mere temporary setbacks rather than threats to their self-esteem. The metronome is a good litmus test for this. Students with a low tolerance for the learning curve will often freak out over the metronome. If a patient and creative teacher can nudge them to a more accepting attitude toward the metronome, that permeates every other aspect of learning. (For example, I tell students that the metronome is like the real friend who tells you the truth—not the false friend who tells you only what you want to hear.) Over time, students stop seeing correction as mean-spirited kvetching. They spend less time being defensive and more time getting better.

This, of course, presupposes a teacher who doesn’t see the metronome as something to avoid.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

Tonit
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Tonit » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:30 am

Tom Poore wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:35 am

There’s nothing “miraculous” about the metronome.
True but your excursus sounds quite drastic :P We all anticipate to see that happen with or without a metronome.

I simply want to know why we should blind our western music students from the world of today wherein metronomes are widely accepted and used, and wherein vast majority of the faculty do not see metronomes as if they were a sort of chemo or radio therapy for terminal musical symptoms.

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:45 pm

Tom Poore wrote:So during lessons you’re providing the beat for the student to model.
No Tom - I really don't do that, at least not in the way that I believe you are supposing. Together, we assimilate rhythm entirely separately. The student supplies their own pulse during any playing - including the lead in.
Tom Poore wrote:There’s nothing “miraculous” about the metronome ...
I didn't mean to suggest that - rather the miracle being that the metronome somehow succeeded at the job where all other methods failed.
Tom Poore wrote:Allow me a philosophic tangent.
As usual Tom - your creativity and insight illustrate that you are exactly the sort of teacher that I would like for myself - I don't dispute that one can indeed use almost anything beyond its original purpose. Needless to say, I have nurtured many a nervous individual (though through other means), their blossoming is one of the several pleasures of our profession.
Tonit wrote:I personally do not think it is a good idea to discourage ambitious students to use it, or discourage them to learn how we could creatively use and utilize one of the best used workout musical tools, and to let them consider it as the last resort of some sort that we better off not knowing how to use.
As I said Tonit:
Mark wrote:... not entering into debate regarding anyone else's use.
Let me be clear - I am not running a vendetta against the metronome. I overstated my dislike for the purpose of mild humour. I do not actively discourage use of the device, nor do I hide the fact of its existence from students. It is true that I don't believe that the musical world would suffer any great loss should all metronomes be whisked away overnight by aliens.

I do choose not to utilise one myself as I feel very strongly that it's early introduction serves not to reinforce one's own sense of pulse but the exact opposite - removing it to some external "other place". As to its ubiquitous presence - I have commented elsewhere on the products of, as you put it:
Tonit wrote:... the world of today wherein metronomes are widely accepted and used ...
Though they are perhaps able to execute scales with great velocity, though they may be otherwise technically adept, many (I would venture most) do not play musically at first sight, do not properly understand compound time, do not communicate change of meter, absolutely fail to recognise true hemiola - and so on. These essentially musical deficiencies are apparent even amongst professional level players. A couple of examples (I know that these will resonate with Paul):

The first movement of John Duarte's English Suite.
Performances where the metronomic pulse is prominent to the point of obscuring the meter are almost universal. Those where the meter has even been correctly apprehended are rare.

The well known Bourrée from BWV 996.
Even if the meter has been understood (again, not a given) the metronomic sub pulse, combined with an overly extravagant and repetitively monotonous execution of the partial cell - da da dum - usually obscures the phrase level construction.
Tonit wrote:... see metronomes as if they were a sort of chemo or radio therapy for terminal musical symptoms.
When I want to efficiently knock in a nail, I reach for an appropriate tool e.g. a hammer; if I ever needed it for something ... I honestly don't know what ... I might turn to the metronome. Nothing to do with last resorts - only practicality.

Wuuthrad
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Wuuthrad » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:51 pm

Does anyone play classical guitar with swing like I do for a change of pace, after doing metronome work?

I find this a nice addition to the toolbox.
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

Wuuthrad
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Wuuthrad » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:06 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:45 pm

It is true that I don't believe that the musical world would suffer any great loss should all metronomes be whisked away overnight by aliens.
I fear this may be happening already in a perverse way with the prevelance and popularity of computer based music devoid of any real rhythms.

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:45 pm

Performances where the metronomic pulse is prominent to the point of obscuring the meter are almost universal. Those where the meter has even been correctly apprehended are rare.
I often wonder if this phenomenon, which bugs me to no end, is also related to the lack of phrase markers in most notation.

Hence I soldier onward, pencil in hand- to correct the wrote mechanization of music imprinted upon us all by the Staff!

:war: :pirate:
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

Tonit
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Tonit » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:11 pm

Hi Mark Clifton-Gaultier,
Thank you for the detailed response. I understand if it was part of your humor, saving your example remark on today's guitarists that is seemingly irrelevant.
A good sense of humor is generally desired, whether in classrooms or Irish pubs.
You must be a popular teacher.
Last edited by Tonit on Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Crofty
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Crofty » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:27 pm

Couple of things came to mind reading through Mark's last post.

One was working with an adult student attempting to play a scale slowly, one note per beat.

He had great problems until I realised that he was actually trying to gauge it *visually* [old, swingy metronome] and synchronise his playing to each arrival point of the metronome's arm.

Once he tried with his eyes shut it worked fine - but it's an illustration of how we often take understanding for granted.

I also recall the many chats Mark and I had about things like the change of metre - never observed in my listening experience - at the opening of the Prelude to Duarte's English Suite.

But I also remember that, when we first met and I was introducing Mark to my beautiful new Philip Woodfield guitar, I was working on some Lauro Valses using a rather neat old drum machine that has a great Latin 3/4, and Mark enjoying it. [He said......]

And our duo playing never seemed to suffer from his distaste for the metronome and my fairly frequent use of it. Thinking about it for the first time I now realise that, before I had ever heard of a metronome ALL my experience of music was interactive. I played guitar and sang close harmony stuff with my brother professionally for many years. I worked with different club backing somewhere in excess of 3000 times over many years, played flute with string quartet, conducted orchestras and bands etc etc etc.

And yet now, when I largely play alone, I really like using a metronome when working on solo repertoire of songs. Mark doesn't. And it doesn't seem to matter really.

Paul

Crofty
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Crofty » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:30 pm

Mark

"It is true that I don't believe that the musical world would suffer any great loss should all metronomes be whisked away overnight by aliens."

I have a picture of an alien version of delcamp with a thread much like this one in progress.....

Tonit
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Tonit » Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:21 pm

Hi Paul
Crofty wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:27 pm
And yet now, when I largely play alone, I really like using a metronome when working on solo repertoire of songs. Mark doesn't. And it doesn't seem to matter really.
Do you mean tunes by songs, or are they really songs that you sing to your guitar?
I personally prefer not to use any metronome when playing classical tunes in general, whereas I cannot go without it when practicing jazz "swing" feel/groove for example. Probably it's the good old active/reactive rhythm argument, but tunes for one traditional fingerpicking guitar in particular and maybe except for something like phase music or else where the minimalist point of view against any relatively even pulse comes into play, I often feel it wreck my internal rhythmical interpretations of them (again most of the time).

Do you know anything about what is the matter with me?

Crofty
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Crofty » Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:45 pm

Tonit wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:21 pm
Hi Paul.....
Do you know anything about what is the matter with me?
Blimey! I don't know what's the matter with me, never mind someone else!!

I meant OR songs by the way. I have eclectic tastes, having started my musical career as a singer/guitarists, shifted to classical flute with a passion for the baroque era, and then grew passionate about solo guitar.

So now it's solo repertoire plus my own songs and songs that I love by other people.

I'm happy with a metronome or a rhythm machine for pretty much anything I do but I use if sparingly and for very specific reasons. I also think that the music I heard as a child, from Doris Day to the Everly brothers, and then the Beatles and pop music generally - plus singing a lot of it - was just the greatest way, without having the faintest idea at the time that it was happening, to develop a real feel for rubato and the way in which playing, even just slightly, with tempo is such a natural way to communicate emotion in music.

[Sorry about the long sentence - I'm tired.]

Paul

Tonit
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Tonit » Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:49 pm

Thank you Crofty
Crofty wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:45 pm
I'm happy with a metronome or a rhythm machine for pretty much anything I do but I use if sparingly and for very specific reasons. I also think that the music I heard as a child, from Doris Day to the Everly brothers, and then the Beatles and pop music generally - plus singing a lot of it - was just the greatest way, without having the faintest idea at the time that it was happening, to develop a real feel for rubato and the way in which playing, even just slightly, with tempo is such a natural way to communicate emotion in music.
Same here and I am cool with those tools, and have never whacked any of those in my toolbox.

Good stuffs. I used to hate those brainwashing songs or riffs stuck in my head, whenever I found myself start unwittingly humming them while cooking or otherwise. Those are hauntingly there and something we can't shrug off. But eventually I started submitting to the power, because, let's face it, they've got the power, quite simply.
And I totally agree those be it Michael Jackson or Mozart are successfully conveying those abstract emotions (or musical ideas so to speak) that resonate in our little chamber with all the musical devices including the rubato and other rhythmic things that we can best learn out of. Any instrumental finesse or musical device as employed should be rendered useless failing to do so, or should be so rendered with us noodling around with them without any intended emotions to convey therewith (and regretfully we do sometimes... as our imperfect beings).
However so, in my case, any digitally enabled and enabling tools or else can be useful upon reproduction of the musical devices so learned, or honing the reproduction all by ourselves.
[Sorry about the long sentence - I'm tired.]

Paul
Thank you again and sorry to have pushed you further. Good night.
Last edited by Tonit on Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:11 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Tom Poore
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Tom Poore » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:57 am

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:As usual Tom - your creativity and insight illustrate that you are exactly the sort of teacher that I would like for myself [...]
Mark, you missed your calling. You should be a diplomat.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

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