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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Serious lack of rythm


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Watergal82 - Posted - 01/09/2011:  08:27:56



I'm trying to improve my sense of rhythm and ability to stay on the beat. I do just fine if I'm playing with a background beat, like a guitar or metronome, but if I'm keeping the beat myself, I get way off really fast.

Can anyone suggest any exercises for learning to keep the beat better?

Karen

squawkeye - Posted - 01/09/2011:  08:41:41


Hey Watergal - is there a tune from the oldtimejam website that you'd say you know really well? If so, I can give you an exercise to try.

mswlogo - Posted - 01/09/2011:  09:11:31


Are you tapping your foot with or without background beat?


Edited by - mswlogo on 01/09/2011 09:13:52

echord - Posted - 01/09/2011:  09:14:12


How about making your foot a metronome? Just stomp the beat, remembering to give each note it's full time value. I always find I play better if I stomp my foot, or at least tap it, and it makes a great accompaniment to solo fiddle, especially on a hard wooden floor.

Just a thought.

jonno - Posted - 01/09/2011:  09:19:06


Tap your foot. It's simple, but if you can keep a steady beat with your foot, your fiddling can follow.

If your foot speeds up as you play, try tapping your foot as you fiddle to your metronome, then wean yourself off the metronome. If your metronome can be muted, but still flash the beat, you can try playing with your eyes closed for a while, and then open them to see if you've drifted. No matter how good you get with rhythm, spending time with a metronome is worthwhile - it acts to sensitize you and synchronize you feel for rhythm.

It is a very good practice to play with other people or play along with recordings to learn to follow and stay on the beat. More than that, though, you should teach yourself how to keep a steady beat on your own. You will find yourself playing with others who drag or speed up the rhythm (often because they hit a section of the tune with difficult fingering, they space out, or are playing without a strong feeling of the groove).

This is worth the effort and I applaud your goal. Any person (regardless of instrument) who can play with a solid rhythm is appreciated by others in the group and makes it all sound better.

John

richdissmore - Posted - 01/09/2011:  09:26:21


how about huming the tune all so tap your foot this could help or play songs that have a difnet beat like turky in the starw maybe this will help lisen to recording and try to keep the beat then remmber how they go

hokelore - Posted - 01/09/2011:  09:34:23


Dance. Your feet can teach you a lot.

Swing - Posted - 01/09/2011:  09:45:41


Hokelore is right, go to dances, once you start feeling the beat then the rest is easy... but, the other thing or two is this. Try playing slower than you think you should...it will be work, but in the end your timing will improve greatly. The other thing, besides a clicker of some kind, is longer bow strokes... short strokes tned to make you play faster...

It might be helpful to listen to some great fiddlers, Patti Lameroux of Canada has impectable timing and intonation... get a CD and use some slow down software and listen and play along

Play Happy

carlb - Posted - 01/09/2011:  10:23:23


Yes, go dancing.

DownYonder - Posted - 01/09/2011:  11:19:25


Karen,
My tips would be:
-Go dancing
-Play slower than normal, and speed up gradually
-And if playing a tune in 4/4 or 2/4 (reels, twosteps, polkas), play it with a Clog rythem (dotted and cut notes)

Hope it helps,
DownYonder

fiddlepogo - Posted - 01/09/2011:  15:13:52


My idea would be to just play some simple rhythmic patterns on two open strings:
like long, long, short, short, short, short
(2-2-1-1-1-1, or 2 2-note slurs + four "sawstrokes").
You can't get much easier than that...
after you get that down you could try Nashville Shuffle.

This will start to give you the idea of "playing drums with the bow" or "bowing percussively".
In this way of thinking, the bow isn't just what produces the notes, it's what lays down a drum-like rhythm.

The reason you should do this on open strings is so you're not distracted by fingering or intonation issues...
you just want to think about getting the bow playing <rhythmically>!!!

Dick Hauser - Posted - 01/09/2011:  15:41:31


Start working on learning to tap your foot. When you are playing with accompaniment, tap your foot. The next thing I am going to say may sound ridiculous, but I think it is true. When you are playing, concentrate on listening to your playing as though you were listening to some other player. Don't let any personal thoughts interfere with your concentrating on your playing.

When playing with a metronome/drum machine/software, record your playing. Are you really listening to the rhythm device or are you just "going through the motions" ? Record and play practice sessions, then listen to the recording to see if your are keeping time. If you aren't keeping good time, start concentrating on listening to the rhythm device and accompanying it.

Many people practice and don't concentrate. When you are practicing and not playing music, I think a person must concentrate and be aware of what they are doing. This is different than playing music and allowing your personal feelings shape what your play.

Don't forget, LEARN TO TAP YOUR FOOT ! ! !

Watergal82 - Posted - 01/09/2011:  17:37:26


Thanks for all the advice. I've been trying to tap my foot, its just that my foot is likely to follow the poor timing of my playing as soon as I run into any difficulty. Or I just forget that I'm supposed to be tapping my foot. I'll keep working on that, along with the metronome.

Watergal82 - Posted - 01/09/2011:  17:49:45


quote:
Originally posted by squawkeye

Hey Watergal - is there a tune from the oldtimejam website that you'd say you know really well? If so, I can give you an exercise to try.



I know Liberty, Redwing and Old Joe Clark pretty well. What's the exercise?

Karen

squawkeye - Posted - 01/09/2011:  18:41:18


Karen - As you describe it, the difficulty it sounds like you're having is keeping tempo. In other words, your internal sense of beats per minute isn't steady. This is different from your timing, which is where you place your notes in relationship to the beat. It sounds as if that part is okay - provided you have an external source maintaining a steady beat. Foot tapping won't help a lot with this particular issue, as the same timekeeper that's having a hard time keeping the beat now will also be driving your foot tapping (and that's you!). Foot tapping is a good tool to use if you're having issues with timing, but being able to play while you tap your foot is a skill in and of itself, and must be learned (just as singing while playing doesn't come automatically). And even if you were to develop that skill, you still have the problem that the clock that's driving your foot taps isn't steady.

Anyhow, if that is the correct issue and the problem you're having is with tempo (and not timing), then try the following exercise. I've attached the mp3 of liberty played with the banjo and guitar backup, but in certain spots the backup drops out completely. So for the periods where the sound is absent, you'll be the one keeping the beat. You might try just tapping your foot at first along with the song, maybe even hum along, before you try it with your fiddle. Then try playing along on the fiddle, and see how close you come to maintaining the same tempo.

Like any other component of music, keeping a steady tempo is a learned skill. If you've never had to be the one keeping rhythm in a band (rhythm guitar, drums, etc.) then you may never have had the pressure to learn to do this well. In fact, I know very good musicians with good timing who aren't very good at keeping the beat - primarily because they've grown used to others doing it for them. And just like anything else, it must be learned.

That's my 2 cents, fwiw!



liberty

   

bowbag - Posted - 01/10/2011:  06:46:56


I was having trouble adapting to varying rhythms. I can't tap my feet when I play fiddle. I don't know why but there's something about it. I have a mental block. When I play my banjo I can tap no problem but when I tap while fiddling I get all messed up. I think the bowing takes up so much brain power I just can't operate another appendage.

Anyway I found a book called "The Rhythm Bible" to be really helpful. All you need is a metronome to play with it by. It's not instrument specific but it goes into all sorts of rhythms and with hundreds and hundreds of exercises to mess with.

robinja - Posted - 01/10/2011:  07:10:56


Karen - A thought just occurred to me....you don't have to dance to "dance". When you're listening to music, dance with your feet or your hands. Tap your feet or clap to the rhythm. Tap out the rhythm on your steering wheel while you're driving. Count the beats out loud. I'm kind of a compulsive counter - partially because of Laverne & Shirley - lol! (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, Scheimeil, Schamazel, Hosemfeffer Incorporated - or whatever it is that they said.) I used to walk everywhere chanting that in my head!

Anyway, my point is to try to become hyper-aware of the beat - clean house to it, drive to it, cook to it - make it a part of you. You may also want to consider taking up a rhythm instrument at some point in addition to fiddle - uke or guitar. You'll get it, but it may take some time. Being aware of the problem is the first step - you're well on your way!

Judy

tarheel - Posted - 01/10/2011:  17:12:56


just keep playing, your timing is going to suck for a long time. once you get up to speed play along with recordings of good musicians, forget the "learning" aids, they wont be in true time, sorry

jsm147 - Posted - 01/10/2011:  18:15:20


I find old faithful can help A LOT.
seventhstring.com/metronome/metronome.html

Sue B. - Posted - 01/11/2011:  06:56:02


You could try counting a measure's worth of steady beat, then play a measure or half-phrase of a tune. Repeat. Classical players by & large have a metronome running in their heads, since we elect to avoid toe-tapping. Either ta-ta-ta-ta or the count 1 2 3 4, 1&2&3&4&, etc. Just like playing successfully w/a metronome, tapping toes evenly & steadily is its own skill. Sue

Watergal82 - Posted - 01/11/2011:  16:44:37


quote:
Originally posted by squawkeye

Karen - As you describe it, the difficulty it sounds like you're having is keeping tempo. In other words, your internal sense of beats per minute isn't steady. This is different from your timing, which is where you place your notes in relationship to the beat. It sounds as if that part is okay - provided you have an external source maintaining a steady beat. Foot tapping won't help a lot with this particular issue, as the same timekeeper that's having a hard time keeping the beat now will also be driving your foot tapping (and that's you!). Foot tapping is a good tool to use if you're having issues with timing, but being able to play while you tap your foot is a skill in and of itself, and must be learned (just as singing while playing doesn't come automatically). And even if you were to develop that skill, you still have the problem that the clock that's driving your foot taps isn't steady.

Anyhow, if that is the correct issue and the problem you're having is with tempo (and not timing), then try the following exercise. I've attached the mp3 of liberty played with the banjo and guitar backup, but in certain spots the backup drops out completely. So for the periods where the sound is absent, you'll be the one keeping the beat. You might try just tapping your foot at first along with the song, maybe even hum along, before you try it with your fiddle. Then try playing along on the fiddle, and see how close you come to maintaining the same tempo.

Like any other component of music, keeping a steady tempo is a learned skill. If you've never had to be the one keeping rhythm in a band (rhythm guitar, drums, etc.) then you may never have had the pressure to learn to do this well. In fact, I know very good musicians with good timing who aren't very good at keeping the beat - primarily because they've grown used to others doing it for them. And just like anything else, it must be learned.

That's my 2 cents, fwiw!



Yeah, keeping a steady tempo is more what I have a problem doing. I like the Liberty exercise. Thanks!
Karen

masameet - Posted - 01/12/2011:  00:29:40


Another way to look at playing a tempo is to understand that music is basically sound vibrations played within a mathematical context. For instance, a jig or waltz will be in 6/8 or 3/4 time, most other compositions will be in 2/2, 2/4 or 4/4. Which means for every measure of that composition will be a certain number of beats -- 6 for a jig, 3 for a waltz, 2 or 4 for other compositions (let's not get into playing 5/4 and other offbeat time signatures).

For my learning I break tunes down very simply -- in each measure inside my head I count out 1-2-3 for waltzes, 1-2-3-4-5-6 for jigs, and 1-2-3-4 for other compositions (not including reels, etc.). Which means if I'm presented with a difficult measure or several measures (known as a passage), I count out all the notes to figure out where the 1-2-3-4 are. So if I were to parse "Liberty" (using the Fakebook's notation) (with + meaning "and" (half-note)), the A part would equal to:

1-2-3-4 / 1+2+3-4+ / 1-2-3-4 / 1+2+3+4+ / 1-2-3-4 / 1+2+3-4+ / 1+2+3+4+ / 1+2+3-4- /

Music follows a pattern. It is a living language that we musicians interpret and render. Understanding time signatures (and even a small part of musical composition) is key to becoming a musician.

Anyway after you learn how to keep count in your head and parse tunes (whether in written notation or by ear), you'll find being able to play in time easier. Doesn't mean you will play in time. But with practice you might.

And yes, I do tap my foot while I count and play.

ssawyer - Posted - 01/25/2011:  16:47:31


Dancing *to called music] is a good way to subconsciously train yourself to feel and understand rhythm.
When you are at a dance trying taping when you are not moving and when you are moving you will see that your feet will move to each beat of the music..
*why called music, the phrasing has to meet the amount of time in the phrase or the moves will not work well
i.e. a Dosey Doe is 8 counts [8 beats]. most dance moves are completed in 4 beats, 8 beats or 16-how convenient is that.
I try to tap after I learn a tune, if I'm playing to a recording- I tap and can feel where I need improvement.
I also follow the good rythem players...I LOVE the banjo for rhythm..and bagpipes too.

Jolie Louisianne - Posted - 01/25/2011:  21:38:25


Another idea is to use a very slow metronome. First, play a tune with what would be a normal speed. Then progressively slow the metronom down by 1/2, where each tick on the metronome is actually 2 beats, then each tick gets 4 beats. This will help train you brain . Most metronomes don't go slow enough for this at some point, but there are some online metronomes that are slower. This can help you develop this sense of keeping time.

coelhoe - Posted - 01/26/2011:  07:44:58


This is a great deal of very helpful advice. Rhythm and tempo are different issues, however, so is the ability to hear or feel the beats for lead-in and out. My spouse has been a dancer most of her life but it just doesn't work for me. I can play fiddle for dances, no problem, but it is hard for me to do a structured dance to the same melodies, or any melody. I was a complete failure at square dance lessons. Different parts of the brain or something. I'd probably be pretty good at those free style Greek dances, after a few glasses of Ouzo.

But the sad fact is, there are some, a few, who just can't "get" it. Rhythm, I think, is more the problem than tempo. A strong beat will hold the tempo (which why having a good bass player is so important) but it will not automatically give you the starts and stops that you need, and over the years I've had a few, very few though, who simply could not get it no matter how many different learning styles techniques we tried.

FiddleJammer - Posted - 01/26/2011:  08:10:03


Find some other people to play with who have a good groove going on. Play with them a lot. But, get your rhythm from inside you. It is there. Don't get your rhythm from external sources. I find standing up helps. You can put more of your whole body into the tune.

Good luck!

Terri
fiddlejammer.com

Andah1andah2 - Posted - 01/26/2011:  13:09:41


I think what would really help would be to watch the "Puttin on the Ritz" part from Young Frankenstein over and over :)

ssawyer - Posted - 01/26/2011:  22:56:42


I know what you mean ...sometimes I cant do it either...singing and fiddling is like that too.
I do work on rhythm, for sure- to keep a steady beat. taping can help if there is no rhythm to follow.
- I think of it- like a heart-beat in a way.
timings can vary..i feel it out first ONLY listening to the music and counting 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 [because at the 8th count is the turn around or the start of the next [A part]-[dangerous zone for rhythm]- I count to 8 again and listen for the B1-which is usually very noticeable when it comes around. [this works for MOST all tunes/songs [32 beat measures/bars-NOT including the 4 beat intro.- potatoes]
A1 [8 counts- just count to 8 evenly and it will come naturally, you will feel something happen-a kind of "fitting in"
A2 [8 counts
B1 [8 counts
B2 [8 counts -counts are beats/or steps if your dancing.
I used to do this [listening and counting] over and over- after awhile [a days work] you will be able to tell when the B part comes in, hearing any tune/song for the first time. you'll be able to tell where you are in the tune- A or B part- middle or end of the tune. I found it came in handy for jumping in and out of a tune- because I know where I am in the melody.
------------------
the taping varies-sometimes just being conscious of my foot toe-taping.
sometimes it's: heel & toe, heel & toe [1 & 2 & 3 & 4] same foot-whichever leg is most comfortable for it.
or just a foot rocking back'n forth like a Rockin chair..
People react differnt to foot taping..some don't mind it, some do even if your discrete and not distracting.
I admit to sometimes following the rhythm players feet if they are a tapping steady-almost as much as his/her playing.

ssawyer - Posted - 01/26/2011:  23:57:33



in my haste .. 64 beat measures = to play A parts 2x, B parts 2x

4 beat intro
A1] 8 beats, 8 beats
A2] 8 beats, 8 beats
B1] 8 beats, 8 beats
B2] 8 beats, 8 beats


ssawyer - Posted - 01/29/2011:  20:12:34


sciencedaily.com/releases/2009...01501.htm
Guitarists' Brains Swing Together

Tennessee Tom - Posted - 01/30/2011:  03:56:09


quote:
Originally posted by bowbag

I think the bowing takes up so much brain power I just can't operate another appendage.



I agree with this. I never have trouble with timing when playing guitar, but the fiddle is a different story.

ssawyer - Posted - 01/30/2011:  08:34:39


or whether the brain synchronization takes place first and causes the coordinated performance.

I think it's just practice like anything else..tearing down those walls of interior criticism.
you can do it. I've seen people/me learn/progress. as a matter of fact we are all born with rhythm [similar to art/painting with colors-as we grow older we lose the ability to color coordinate opposing values] we lose this natural reflex in relation to structured learning/rationalization. maybe it's a evolutionary migrational thing. a flocking technique.
I'm learning so much from everyone...this site is a treat..

Bart - Posted - 01/30/2011:  08:53:26


One thing that's helping me right now is playing the bongo drums my brother got me for Christmas. I have been practicing playing rhythms to go with all the various Irish tune time signatures, and varying all of those within the time signatures. Using both hands to coordinate the rhythms, and varying the emphasis in both hands, is quite a helpful exercise.

When I unwrapped the drums at Christmas and tried to play a little, I could barely do it. But, it only took a day or two and my improvement was huge. I think doing anything else like that, like taking an unfamiliar dance class, or whatever, helps with the rhythm on the fiddle.

sbhikes - Posted - 01/30/2011:  18:00:17


I have to disagree with the tap your foot thing. Whenever I see the foot come out on some of these rhythmically challenged folks, I know that the rhythm is only about to get worse. The people who tap their feet to try to stay on the beat don't realize that the beat isn't coming from their hands or feet, it's coming from somewhere inside them. So if they can't keep the beat with their instrument, they can't do it any better with their foot. Foot tapping should only be done unconsciously, as you are just jamming with the rhythm, not as a way to force yourself to try to keep rhythm. It just does not work. I know I'll get tomatoes thrown at me for that, but I have yet to see any musician, beginner or otherwise, capable of getting themselves back on the rhythm with foot tapping.

flower222 - Posted - 01/30/2011:  19:59:26


I partially agree with you. But nothing is impossible if you are ready to put lot of practice. I was one of the few who had absolutely no sense of rhythm. But I found tapping the foot helped than other methods like counting on head etc. It was indeed initially tough but can be mastered with regular practice.

quote:
Foot tapping should only be done unconsciously

Yeah, its quite true.

I was never taught to do this but I tried to sing along(in mind) and my timing improved to a great extent. Also I was able tap foot to the right beat.


ssawyer - Posted - 01/31/2011:  15:31:46


what is a beat?????who are they????why wont they talk to me????what do they want of me????
why can't they leave me alone?????
-----------------------------------------------------------:)--------------------------------------------------------------
it's true if you don't have the experience to feel or understand it- How can you tell?...
relax...don't feel overwhelmed or stressed...relax your shoulders and take deep breaths..
this is a fun exercise. counting. it really helped me quickly to understand...
I'm always working on rhythm too- i like a lot of the ideas posted.
gonna try some with the metronome/drums/reading notation-life in progress- "right? no rush -enjoy the journey.
also something that helped me is "Chamber Music" simple easy chamber music-find a friend and
get a book with harmonies for two. it's a lot of fun...and it feels so good to be in sinc. [with practice] *#$**@
we all read the topic about "how to tell if you have no rhythm" ..I can think of a doz. more...
It can be frustrating..for the rhythm player who is trying to keep a steady beat. Some Rhythm players are rock solid and can take a beating. some are just trying to get through the tune-just like you & me. If your jamming Choose your seating well -you can see who the strong rhythm players are but be considerate of other players.
I gave you a bit of what i learned....you need to crawl before you can walk- here are some basics of listening...brake it down...its all about practice-practice practice practice-and rhythm should be part of it.
first:
something recorded by someone- a professional who you think has great rhythm-
i.e. brad leftwich has perfect timing- flatt & scruggs- perfect timing.[warning: some of Brads tunes are crooked -extra 4 beats at turnaround..he also taps-and teaches this- on some of his CD's
start listening to your favorite music- [don't get your fiddle out [yet] you can also do this in the car.
count to eight, ect ect; listen -not to the notes per say; but to your voice "counting out- loud & EVENLY"..while your listening/ your listening in "layers", subconsciously- listen to your voice and the music...your voice will naturally start to fit in the beats....
this is an exercise..you will feel when it happens. you will know when your ON or OFF
you will know when its working.
next
now instead of only counting ..COUNT & TAP...until you can do it evenly and steadily. on a bunch of different tunes-different timings don't matter- the beats are what matter. after awhile you wont need to count. it will be layered subconsciously- and you will feel every beat. and you will tap on time, baby.
now get your fiddle -play, tap- take your time- speed up slow down find your trouble spots-record.
Learn the chords to the tune...chop chop [rhythmic shuffles/i like saw stroking]....record yourself THEN listen and count out loud like you did for BRAD L..
If you don't know if you have rhythm for a tune...record yourself , listen THEN "count EVENLY out loud"
hear where your weak parts are..work it out- that's what i should be doing right now...You will see improvement if you keep working on it...don't give up..we need you...xoxo

ssawyer - Posted - 01/31/2011:  15:42:43


most important "Be kind to each other" we are supposed to be working together...
not for me- the TUNE
people have feelings-people are in differnt places musically.
don't be cruel- we know who you are.



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