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teaching issues

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teaching issues

Thursday, December 18, 2008 8:48 PM
Author: Not Found

Good day I've only been teaching saxophone privately for a few years and most of my students have taken to practicing/working with a metronome fairly well. I have an 8th grade student, however, that has not. It's not a matter of getting him to *use* a metronome but to play with it. He has a good ear, relatively good fundamentals, but can't play to a steady beat to save his skin. I refuse to give up on him and I'm looking for suggestions and exercises that may help me reach him the right way. Brian


Friday, December 19, 2008 2:36 AM
Author: Adam Risch

Try just a descending scale fragment, a-g-f#-e-d, in dotted half-notes with the metronome clicking quarters. Let me know what happens. Griff

Friday, December 19, 2008 2:38 AM
Author: Adam Risch

Relatively quick tempo, 120 maybe, by the way.

Friday, December 19, 2008 3:34 PM
Author: Not Found

Like everything that poses a problem to us... just break it down for him. You can probably do this in many ways. 1) Hopefully this guy listens to a lot of music. Get him to start keeping beat as he listens to all of his music, if he doesn't listen to any music then that is probably a big source of the rhythmical problem. Get him to either clap the beats, stomp to them, sing them and what not. If that's too easy, get him to clap/sing the eighth notes, then sixteenth, and so forth. 2) Actually practicing rhythm by himself. I like what Griff said before me, definitely try that. In addition to that, you can always teach him words that associate w/ each subdivision. This is what they teach at Suzuki for little kids that have yet to develop a strong sense of rhythm. Duple subdivision: Kiwi Triplet Subdivision: Bicycle Four note subdivision: Watermelon Five note subdivision: Hippopotamus And last but not least, when he's working on pieces, have him listen to a recording of it. Always. If possible have him play along to it. This will probably be the most useful. Hope for the best!

Friday, January 9, 2009 7:27 PM
Author: FWT Library

Brian, You might try incorporating some small hand percussion (egg shakers, etc.), showing him different subdivisions with a recording. apark0426 has some good suggestions as well. Clapping, stomping, snapping, etc. are good external ways to demonstrate rhythm and subdivision. After he can demonstrate this for you successfully you'll know he is on the right track. The next step is getting him to internalize the subdivision process.

Friday, January 9, 2009 10:50 PM
Author: Not Found

Hi Brian, I'm a Middle School band director and also have private saxophone students. With students like you described, I think it is definately helpful to incorporate some kind of movement with the steady click. Clap the beat, stomp it, click the keys to it, etc. Also, saying and using some movement in subdivisions is great too. I think anything kinesthetic is very helpful with this age group. There's actually a great book I use as a supplement in my band classes for helping with rhythms, steady pulse, and subdivisions. It's called "Basics in Rhythm" by Garwood Whaley and comes with a CD as well. Hope this helps and good luck! John

reply to all
Monday, January 19, 2009 2:26 PM
Author: Not Found

Thank you, everyone, for your help and suggestions. We had our first lesson of the New Year two weeks ago and with a slight variation on Mr. Campbells suggestion. I took him back to the beginning of his first method book. We looked at a couple of musical excerpts that he studied a year ago so we could take the focus off of learning something new and had him play with the metronome clicking every other beat. Immediately his ears perked up and was much more successful playing in time. Kinesthetics, I believe, will be our next step and I've always been a true believer in listening to music as a teaching tool. Again, thank you for all of your ideas. Brian Mahnke

Monday, January 19, 2009 2:34 PM
Author: Adam Risch

Glad to hear that was successful. Usually, the problem is a basic step has been missed at exactly that beginning level. Going back to fundamentals, every time, is really important. I don't recall if anyone's mentioned Larry Teal's "Studies in Time Division, but it's an excellent book for teaching subdivision.

Monday, January 19, 2009 2:55 PM
Author: Ryan Hauser

I definitely support the idea of body movement. Rhythm is a physical and visceral phenomenon--not an intellectual one, in my opinion and experience. There's a reason that Prof. Richtmeyer encourages dancing in her studio--it works! It's not just for rhythm, either, but for movement, direction, and energy. At the very least, try to get this student marching around the room while he plays his scales.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 12:02 AM
Author: Not Found

Good job on helping the student. One more thing that has helped me is simply amplifying the beat. Often a little metronome will not be loud enough for me. Amplifying it with something as simple as computer speakers may help him not have to concentrate on it so hard. I remember during my undergraduate our Salsa band director would plug his Dr. Beat into an old bass amp. It really helps. The other problem could be subdivision. But I am not one to offer advice on that. I could use help on subdividing myself. I am going to look into Larry Teal's book. Thanks Mr Campbell.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 12:05 AM
Author: Not Found

Thanks for bringing up Larry Teals book Mr. Campbell. I am going to look into that.

Metronome off?
Tuesday, January 20, 2009 6:46 AM
Author: Not Found

I'll put my two cents in since I don't think anyone has said this yet: turn the metronome off for a while and have the student tap his foot. Playing with a metronome is a more advanced skill than many people give it credit for. Believe me, I'm a HUGE fan of practicing and teaching with a metronome. But I've found that students with a weak internal pulse (which sounds like what you're describing) often don't even know when they're off. These kids may practice with a metronome, but it's nothing more than background noise. It shocked me at first that some of my students couldn't play or clap even fairly simple rhythms while tapping the foot. Either the rhythm would be off, or the foot (read: internal pulse) would freak out. With these kids, I go with foot-tapping for as long as it takes - anywhere from two months to over a year with my kids - until I'm confident that their internal pulse is decent. Then, when I turn the metronome back on, it's amazing how much easier it is for them to stay with it. I've used this technique with at least ten students so far, and I have a 100% success rate. Without a decent internal pulse, a metronome just adds one more variable to confuse and frustrate.

Body Beat
Sunday, February 1, 2009 8:18 PM
Author: Keila DuBois

I use the Body Beat metronome (Peterson Tuners makes it) with my students quite a bit. Basically it's a metronome that sends a quick vibration to a sensor that's attached to your belt. It's kind of like a cell phone vibe... but it does it in rhythm and you can actually use it to accent different beats. My bass players and drummers have improved the most from using the Body Beat, but I think it could be useful for anyone who has problems understanding the concept of pulse. Plus it takes your mind off of tapping the foot, which can be difficult to comprehend.

Monday, February 2, 2009 4:13 PM
Author: Devon Redmond

Interesting that you bring up the Body Beat. I was going to ask about a related situation that I have with one student. When he plays, he says he can't hear the metronome. When he watches the light he plays well with the metronome but when he has to look at the music and can't watch the light, he is all over the place. We worked for quite a while but he just couldn't seem to do it. (he is a relative beginner) I recommended the Body Beat and he does fine with that. What I'm curious about is, how/why can he not hear the metronome? I admit when I play really loud, sometimes I can't hear it but he does not play that loud. He can also hear it fine when I play loud enough so that I can't hear it. So he can hear it just fine but can't seem to when he plays. I've tried two different kinds of Dr. Beats that each have two different click sounds and he can't hear any of them. Any explanations? Any suggestions? Is it important for him to be able to hear it? When we play duets, he can play in tune and in rhythm so he can listen and play at the same time.

hearing the metronome
Monday, February 2, 2009 8:38 PM
Author: Not Found

Hi Andy, In my experience I think it is a matter of concentration, and where they direct their attention. I have become fond of saying, "if you want to turn up the volume on your metronome, slow down the tempo." I have not had any students who couldn't eventually hear it if we began a passage slowly enough. Then adding tempo gradually as the technique developed on the spot in question allowed them to keep on hearing it. Cliff

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