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forty-two

Help with metronome work

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My girls play piano, and metronome work is ridiculously hard for my oldest.  She has a hard time feeling the beat of her piano pieces in general, and the metronome beat just has no meaning for her - she can't tell the difference between matching the metronome and getting off from the metronome.  So far, the only way we've been successful with metronome work is for *me* to learn to feel the beat of her piece and feel the metronome beat, and to sing the piece to the metronome while she tries to match *me*.  It works, but I'd like to help her develop the ability to be able to learn to feel the beat herself, for the metronome beat to have meaning to her.

Ideas?

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Could you have her, separately from her piano practice, work on tapping the beat of the metronome with her feet or clapping it?  

Can she find the beat in music?  If that is a struggle too, maybe try moving feet to the beat in different songs.  I am thinking Footloose, when Kevin Bacon is teaching his friend with the cowboy hat to dance.

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2 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

Could you have her, separately from her piano practice, work on tapping the beat of the metronome with her feet or clapping it?  

Can she find the beat in music?  If that is a struggle too, maybe try moving feet to the beat in different songs.  I am thinking Footloose, when Kevin Bacon is teaching his friend with the cowboy hat to dance.

I've thought about having her march to it, or maybe learn the motions for directing it (her theory book helpfully explained it). Because *I'm* not that great about feeling the beat in instrumental music - I've gotten a lot better as I've been doing this for her.  And what's helped me is getting my whole body into it - connecting the beat I'm counting with what my body is doing.  So far she's been a little too-cool-for-school to throw her body into counting, although she will for playing.

She says she can feel the beat in her dance music, and I think a lot of it is that you are explicitly connecting the numbers you are counting with what you are hearing and what you are doing.  Also, at least in my dance experience, you repeat everything so much that the count gets burned into your brain.  With piano, she doesn't explicitly count unless and until she's made to, when her intuitive rhythm is wrong and needs fixing.  Also, in dance the rhythm is set - you hear it the same way every time until you are feeling it in your bones - while in piano you are setting your own rhythm.  She is consistent in how she plays, in that she'll settle into a routine - but isn't not a consistent rhythm, she speeds up and slows down.  But consistently - she speeds up and slows down in the same places. 

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A couple of things I can think of.

1) Set your metronome to subdivide the beat. 2 clicks or more per beat in the parts she speeds up and slows down. 

2) Slow it way down and force her to play to that speed. By slowing it down, she'll be able to hear what she's playing. 

3) Record her playing with the metronome and play it back. She'll be able to hear where she's going off. 

4) Play the metronome and have her practice counting while she claps along, taps her foot or slaps her leg. 

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Record her playing. Ask her to clap the beat while she is listening to recording and count out loud. I would do this before I would turn to a metronome. 

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4 hours ago, forty-two said:

I've thought about having her march to it, or maybe learn the motions for directing it (her theory book helpfully explained it). Because *I'm* not that great about feeling the beat in instrumental music - I've gotten a lot better as I've been doing this for her.  And what's helped me is getting my whole body into it - connecting the beat I'm counting with what my body is doing.  So far she's been a little too-cool-for-school to throw her body into counting, although she will for playing.

She says she can feel the beat in her dance music, and I think a lot of it is that you are explicitly connecting the numbers you are counting with what you are hearing and what you are doing.  Also, at least in my dance experience, you repeat everything so much that the count gets burned into your brain.  With piano, she doesn't explicitly count unless and until she's made to, when her intuitive rhythm is wrong and needs fixing.  Also, in dance the rhythm is set - you hear it the same way every time until you are feeling it in your bones - while in piano you are setting your own rhythm.  She is consistent in how she plays, in that she'll settle into a routine - but isn't not a consistent rhythm, she speeds up and slows down.  But consistently - she speeds up and slows down in the same places. 

 

Well, I don't play piano, but our piano teacher had my middle daughter count out loud all the time for a while, because she would play the notes the way she thought they should go rather than the way they were.  If counting out loud helps, it might be that she should do it all the time until it becomes more natural.

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Honestly, it's taken DS about 5 years to really be able to work with the metronome properly.  I think it may have been an issue with his APD/hearing loss, but I can't be sure.  Anyways, we just kept at it and now he doesn't willingly turn on the metronome, but when he does, it's not a mess.

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Does she understand the concept of a steady beat?  

I’d start with clapping and finding steady beats in all of the music around her.  (Find music with a strong steady beat.)

To apply steady beat to her piano music, I’d give her a strong visual... draw extended vertical lines through the notes that fall on the beat.  These are the notes that should match with the metronome clicks. If this is too big of a step in her current music, go back to a familiar piece she feels confident with and draw those lines.  

On my phone, so I’ll stop there! 

 

Edited by Doodlebug
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Thanks all :).  Sounds like we just need to keep plugging along.  We finally had some success last week; after days of me being unable to drag her back to the beat (instead she kept dragging me away from the beat - I swear, the longer we practised, the less *I* could feel the beat), something clicked and she was able to play it through to the beat.  She was bang on - it was wonderful.  I'd forgotten that metronome work could be anything but a continual and largely futile uphill slog, but when she was on, the whole thing was effortless.  I think even she could feel the difference - so hopefully she has a better sense of what we're aiming at.  Because if all she usually feels is the frustration of trying to hear and hang on to a faint and barely perceptible beat that is mostly overwhelmed by everything else going on - that was so tiring and demoralizing.

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Metronome work taps the EF portion of the brain. It's fine to do it with the music, and in fact it's something music therapists will spend a lot of time doing! I've got my ds in music therapy right now, and they do metronome work every time, absolutely. It's also a skill you can isolate or choose to do in combination with OTHER useful things like motor planning, language, handling distractions, etc. Doing the metronome while playing piano is pulling a LOT of skills and demands together. She's having to motor plan, read notes, handle distractions (anxiety, background noise, the noise from the piano, your presence, etc.) and keep time. So taking the task load down to two things (metronome at a steady beat with clapping) with no other demands will help her get that part stronger. 

We've had threads over on LC on how to work on metronome. You can download a simple app and do it for free. You can also go a more kinesthetic direction and do BalavisX type exercises with beanbags or squash/tennis balls, same gig, engaging the EF portion of the brain to keep time while motor planning. 

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Move large to small. It is easier to walk to a beat than to pat it, and to pat it with hands together than apart and easier with hands apart than to clap it or tap it. I have put suggestions for metronome work from a music teacher standpoint on the LC board for kids who are doing IM. I’m an Orff teacher before a piano teacher, and I spend far longer on steady beat and beat bonding than any other piano teacher I know. 

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Is her metronome loud enough?  This is so important. Apps don't seem to be loud enough.  It is best to use a real metronome. If it has a visual indicator light that may help her also.

I would recommend that she stand up and step in place to the beat.  While marching, she should read her music by clapping notes with her hands while counting outloud, "1 + 2 + 3 e + a 4, 1 rest 3+ 4".  Any rests are not clapped (leave hands open) and whispered.   She probably won't like it at first because it is 3 things at once and is initially tricky, but I would try it.  This has made my daughter a very good sight reader.  Most note reading mistakes seem to be related to rhythm.   I think it also helps you strongly feel the rhythm for metronome work.

Edited by parent
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Thanks all :).

Practicing with her today, she was able to listen to the metronome and count to it in a general way (1-2-3, 1-2-3, etc) and was able to start herself, instead of needing me to give a two-measure count as a lead-in.  So I *think* she can now translate the steady metronome beat into a meaningful count by herself, and that's new.  She still either can't tell or doesn't care when her playing gets off the metronome - she needs me to tell her.  And she also can't really play to the metronome herself but needs me counting/conducting.  So in effect she's progressed to where middle dd is.  We're using an app, and it might not be loud enough, though I hold it close to her ear.  But somehow, in a mysterious and kind of miraculous way, she's largely internalized the beat for the song in question and last week played it perfectly in her lesson.  I wonder if she could count to any beat, or if she could count to *this* beat because she's internalized it. 

She's seriously resistant to the idea of getting her body into it, although when she plays she naturally moves to the beat when she feels it.  Neither of my girls like clapping out their pieces - they'd much rather just count them out-loud with no hand/body involvement - but I do make them do it till they've proven they can, because it does make a big difference in their ability to accurately count it, and there's no way to effectively play to the metronome if they don't even know how to count the piece.  My youngest successfully did her contest piece to a variety of different speeds (hw assigned by her teacher) with my help, but I've been too scared to try it with older dd.  But I think I'll try clapping - or patting - to different beats and see if she can do that.  If she can't, I'll see if I can bribe her into marching to the beat.

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And please make sure she can really find and walk/pat the beat before trying to add a rhythm on top of it. Doing two things at once is hard unless one is 100% automatic. 

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My ds has been working with a music therapist and they hit the timing and metronome work together. She was able to get it into smaller pieces and do it in more ways. (more instruments, more games, more rhythm patterns, etc.)

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On 2/19/2019 at 2:43 PM, dmmetler said:

And please make sure she can really find and walk/pat the beat before trying to add a rhythm on top of it. Doing two things at once is hard unless one is 100% automatic. 

Yes - break it down to one thing at a time.  For example, clap the rhythm written on the page with the metronome.  Then play the rhythm all on the same note with the metronome.  Breaking it down into single tasks will allow her to focus more on the metronome and stay with it.  

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