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Jan 27, 2022 - 11:54:15 AM
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2133 posts since 8/27/2008
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Now that we can identify the problem it makes sense to figure out what to do about it. The standard advice is to practice with a metronome, but there are other things to do too. I've noticed that some players just outright have bad timing, while others have trouble only sometimes. For the ones who always have a hard time I suggest paying attention to the rhythm of other things in their lives. For instance, if you're a walker choose a steady pace, and figure out how many beats per minute that is. From then on whenever you're on a walk, pay attention to that pace for at least a minute or two and try to internalize it. Find other rhythmical things to become aware of during your day. Then, when you practice fiddle, start a tune at the walking speed, maybe using a metronome which you can turn off, then turn back on later to see how you're doing. Or, record yourself and then see how your starting speed compares to your speed at the end. Later on you can devise ways to consistently play tunes slower or faster than your original target speed.

Sometimes players rush the timing for specific reasons, like when you're trying to play a fast tune without having it down yet you may actually speed it up as you chase the notes. Or, it's your break with a group, and enthusiasm adds speed. Or, you're nervous playing in front of an audience, and that makes you speed up, (and your band mates must deal with it).

I've been guilty of these before but I'm lucky to have a good built-in sense of timing. I suggest becoming aware of all your triggers and actively practice to defuse them. (And to breath). Also, don't listen to another player who accuses you of speeding up when you know he's actually the one speeding up, and you're only trying to stay in sync with him. It can be a battle between holding the line and playing along with someone else, and especially frustrating if they don't understand the problem. Become good at playing tightly with others even when change is imposed, but don't be the one to impose a change. In other words, be solid and not easily led astray.

Most things described here can also go the other way, and make someone play draggy, of course.

One last thing I think is important is to actually hear the tune in your head, so that you are playing along with it, not having to create it as you go. Hear it there playing  and accompany it. If you fluff a note or phrase it is still playing right there, right in time, and you rejoin it in progress.

Edited by - Brian Wood on 01/27/2022 11:55:27

Jan 27, 2022 - 12:20:25 PM
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9951 posts since 3/19/2009
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 You said it......"actively practice to defuse them" Best advice..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 01/27/2022 12:20:41

Jan 27, 2022 - 12:44:26 PM
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doryman

USA

302 posts since 2/10/2020

I think that there are two kinds of timing problems. The first is of the kind that Brian discusses, where one's sense of rhythm and timing is off, and one can work on that in a variety of ways. The second, is simply a matter of playing faster than one is capable of. I notice this especially amongst intermediate bluegrass banjo players. As a beginner at the fiddle, I notice it in myself too on the fiddle. If you can't squeeze in all the notes at 80 bpm, you certainly can't fit them all in at 120. For the later problem, first play in time at a speed that you CAN play in time, and then work on speeding it up.

Jan 27, 2022 - 12:56 PM
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9951 posts since 3/19/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by doryman

I think that there are two kinds of timing problems. The first is of the kind that Brian discusses, where one's sense of rhythm and timing is off, and one can work on that in a variety of ways. The second, is simply a matter of playing faster than one is capable of. I notice this especially amongst intermediate bluegrass banjo players. As a beginner at the fiddle, I notice it in myself too on the fiddle. If you can't squeeze in all the notes at 80 bpm, you certainly can't fit them all in at 120. For the later problem, first play in time at a speed that you CAN play in time, and then work on speeding it up.


Good comment.. At Clifftop a few years I was giving fiddle lessons.. I'd listen to how a fiddler played and tried to anticipate the NEXT thing they need to do to progress.. This one young man came for a lesson and he played an amazing  fast tune..but he didn't think he sounded very good..I asked him to play the same tune again, but about at half speed.. He did.. He sounded great..He was just playing faster than his skill level... !! Again, good comment..

Jan 27, 2022 - 1:50:58 PM
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wilford

USA

264 posts since 6/26/2007

A good deal of the players I've run into over the years that show timing problems never or rarely tap their feet in an effort to keep time. Or sometimes a few that do, tap wildly and out of rhythm. I've found it amazing over the years how many folks have trouble tapping the rhythm with a foot or two. :)

Jan 27, 2022 - 3:26:23 PM
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WyoBob

USA

361 posts since 5/16/2019

I've spent more time with a metronome the last few weeks than I have since I started with the banjo almost 10 years ago.   I generally do this while playing scales.

But, for "every day living", I play with recordings.  YouTube, Josh Turknett's OTJ site and most of all, the recordings I've made at our old time jam sessions that I've recorded over the last few years (in which I only play the banjo).  I started doing this as soon as I was invited to join the group just to make sure that I wasn't fouling up and making mistakes to the detriment of those I was playing with.   I felt like a grade schooler playing along with a bunch of PHD's when I first started and wanted to make sure I wasn't messing up.   And, thankfully, I found I was doing pretty OK for a guy who started playing music when I was 65.  I can now play my fiddle along with around 40 tunes that this group plays, up to speed and I seem to fit right in.   They've never heard me play the fiddle, though.  I don't think I'll ever be able to fit in with the group with the fiddle and I don't care.   I get a big enough kick just playing along with them in the basement.smiley

I've always leaned toward playing with actual music rather that the metronome because no one plays in any session I've been in with a metronome and one must adjust to the tempo being played.

Jan 27, 2022 - 4:17:46 PM
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doryman

USA

302 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by WyoBob

I've always leaned toward playing with actual music rather that the metronome because no one plays in any session I've been in with a metronome and one must adjust to the tempo being played.

 


That's a great idea and a lot more fun than playing with a metronome.  Of course, that's assuming that the folks making the music with or for you can keep time!  I play with one particular subset of friends who are horrible at keeping time.  Fortunately, I am currently horrible at the fiddle, so I fit right in. 

Jan 27, 2022 - 5:11:34 PM

5804 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by wilford

A good deal of the players I've run into over the years that show timing problems never or rarely tap their feet in an effort to keep time. Or sometimes a few that do, tap wildly and out of rhythm. I've found it amazing over the years how many folks have trouble tapping the rhythm with a foot or two. :)


My banjo playing pal, Paul has the most wacky foot tap, and you must not watch it or it may throw you off. BUT he has great timing, it's the three finger stuff that messes with his foot.

Not tapping your foot means little. And although I do think having a physical sense of time is helpful for gaining a sense of time, foot taping is discouraged at classical music contests. You can get docked points for it. True story. 

Jan 27, 2022 - 5:29:40 PM
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2346 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood

..don't listen to another player who accuses you of speeding up when you know he's actually the one speeding up, and you're only trying to stay in sync with him.


This gave me a chuckle... When I noticed this tendency to speed up I decided to bring it up at band rehearsal. I was careful not accuse any individual but I had my suspicions. The response I got was that it is 'me' doing the speeding, 'we're' just trying to keep up with you. My answer was; I am actually trying to hold the tempo back from racing ahead because I can't play the lead any faster, and it's just no fun trying to play in that way. At least now we are all aware of this tendency, but when one spends their entire teenage years in dedicated drum kit practice with a metronome,  and then decades of dance band experience playing lead fiddle, they might be able to detect the slightest increase, or decrease in tempo; depends who is saying 'you're racing'....... 

Another good exercise is to learn to recognize increase and decrease in tempo, practice accelerando and de-accelerando...       

Jan 27, 2022 - 5:55:20 PM

9951 posts since 3/19/2009
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What can happen (Can) is that playing along with a recording of a tune locks you into that speed.. when you get to play that same tune with a real live person who plays the tune faster or slower.. you become challenged!! As I've said elsewhere I practice tunes at several speed with a metronome so I can keep versatile.

Having said that, we now have Variable speed play back on many sites such as You tube and even on Slippery Hill. So I guess one could practice a tune at various speeds that way.

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 01/27/2022 17:56:40

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Jan 27, 2022 - 8:13:21 PM
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13160 posts since 9/23/2009

I can't tap my feet good either. I was so happy when i was in West Virginia at the Vandalia Gathering and playing at a jam with John Morris...my favorite OT fiddler...his foot was absolutely spastic...but his playing was absolutely awesome...so, well it made me feel a little better...I mean, if he can't tap his foot maybe it's ok that I can't do it either...I'm in good company at least.

I do play with the metronome when I record stuff on my presonus machine, on my scratch track I do, so I won't speed up or slow down or whatever ... but I'm tellin' ya, when I play with a metronome I feel like a robot. I have to get myself into robotic mode just to be able to stick with it. I find my mind drifts away and I start ignoring the metronome. Like I just pay no attention to it at all after a while and then suddenly snap back into reality and try to catch it again...makes for aterrible recording...lol...I'm tellin' ya.

As to rhythm of everyday life...yeah I can get into that. When i was a kid I found rhythm everywhere. I remember once my mom finally got an automatic washing machine (as opposed to the proverbial finger smashers)...whenever she ran the thing I would hear it talking in my mind...a laundry chant of "Close the door but cha can't come in, Close the door but cha can't come in, etc." for the whole 20 minutes or however long that thing ran. Then on the school bus on sleepy early dark mornings, when it was raining and the windsheild wipers were on, they did their dreaded school bus chants to my ear..."Help Me. Help Me. Help Me...etc.," all the long way to school Lol...stuff like that...maybe I was just a nut or something...lol.  Thank goodness i'm perfectly sane now.

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 01/27/2022 20:15:13

Jan 28, 2022 - 3:28:52 AM
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RichJ

USA

664 posts since 8/6/2013

I truly admire fiddlers who keep a rock steady rhythm going all by themselves. But I also hate metronomes. I need guitar backup or an app like Strum Machine to keep what poor rhythm I may have going. There's always been something magical to me about guitar chords. I sometimes just listen to the guitar chords that go with a certain tune while imagining different melodies that might go along. Oh, add some inventive walking baselines and I'm in pure heaven.

Jan 28, 2022 - 3:54:41 AM
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13160 posts since 9/23/2009

Seems to me not only does my fiddling rhythm improve with guitar backup, but my intonation does too. It's really more fun to play with backup than just scratching into outer space on your own, ain't it?

Jan 28, 2022 - 10:13:42 AM
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2601 posts since 10/22/2007

I found a drum machine I really like, on a toy keyboard of all places.
I put it on a rock beat that shuffles every 4th bar. So if you play a 12 bar Blues it still comes out OK. Something so satisfying to hear that shuffle at the right time. I'm a feeler not a counter, never have been. It's difficult to teacher rhythm, especially bass if you don't teach counting. I eventually taught myself to count, so I could teach it.

Edited by - farmerjones on 01/28/2022 10:14:33

Jan 28, 2022 - 10:27:25 AM
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wilford

USA

264 posts since 6/26/2007

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan
quote:
Originally posted by wilford

A good deal of the players I've run into over the years that show timing problems never or rarely tap their feet in an effort to keep time. Or sometimes a few that do, tap wildly and out of rhythm. I've found it amazing over the years how many folks have trouble tapping the rhythm with a foot or two. :)


My banjo playing pal, Paul has the most wacky foot tap, and you must not watch it or it may throw you off. BUT he has great timing, it's the three finger stuff that messes with his foot.

Not tapping your foot means little. And although I do think having a physical sense of time is helpful for gaining a sense of time, foot taping is discouraged at classical music contests. You can get docked points for it. True story. 


I agree. I'm just trying to suggest that many fiddlers (and others) do not even try to keep an accurate time and perhaps tapping a foot would "help". :) I certainly understand tapping one's foot while performing classical music is a no-no. lol

Jan 28, 2022 - 12:41:20 PM
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1822 posts since 4/6/2014
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If folk have different ideas about the "feel" of a tune, i think it can lead to timing issues such as speeding up etc.  I have played with good muso's that can listen to my interpretation of a tune (if i am leading it), while they are playing along, and then hit my phrasing  and/or emphasis next time round. These are few and far between, and very much appreciated. I try my best to do the same for them nowadays (when i get the chance), and the music becomes more like a conversation, rather than a foot banging competition.  i think that  a few good musicians can usually pull the music into some sort of shape, and carry lesser mortals like myself along with them..But i think it must be hard work.

Don't get me wrong, i still do my fair share of foot banging. But i try not to lately..... Unless i think it is required (or i get carried away with things). wink

Jan 28, 2022 - 2:05:29 PM
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wilford

USA

264 posts since 6/26/2007

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

I found a drum machine I really like, on a toy keyboard of all places.
I put it on a rock beat that shuffles every 4th bar. So if you play a 12 bar Blues it still comes out OK. Something so satisfying to hear that shuffle at the right time. I'm a feeler not a counter, never have been. It's difficult to teacher rhythm, especially bass if you don't teach counting. I eventually taught myself to count, so I could teach it.


I play fiddle on Monday nights where there are usually between 10 and 12 guitar players and a mandolin and a bass player. The bass player brings a drum machine that keeps a solid rhythm. Without this machine, the guitars get a bit spongy from time to time. lol

Jan 28, 2022 - 8:29:09 PM
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287 posts since 12/2/2013
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My stock answer:
Instead of the 200 year old technology of the metronome I would like to recommend an iPhone app to learn how to have perfect timing. In my years of teaching I've found of course that some people have a good sense of rhythm and some don't. The need to stay in time never goes away once you can actually play your instrument. Now most people with a good sense of timing don't even need to know about eighth notes as opposed to sixteenth notes etc. They can just feel it. On the other hand I've had students who could play a whole song note for note but with bad timing and it just makes for a train wreck when others try to play along! Anyway getting back to this app, that by the way is called RHYTHM SIGHT READING $3.99, I've had great success with it fixing students timing problems. And the beauty of it is that at the same time it teaches how to read all different rhythm notation symbols that you could come across in tablature or standard notation. This also helps those that have a great sense of rhythm but can't play off of written music because they can't figure out these timing symbols, this app fixes that. The thing that is amazing is that it tests you on your accuracy with a visual report up to a tenth of a second. You can also learn to play ahead or behind the beat for that drive or laid back feel. Finally another thing, it has is infinite patience which I do not possess.wink

Jan 29, 2022 - 2:28:36 AM
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2962 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood

 I suggest paying attention to the rhythm of other things in their lives.


I think that's a good suggestion. I notice using the term "rhythm" rather than "paying attention to the 'timing' for other things in their lives".

While the terms "timing" and "rhythm" are often interchanged... as the same thing; they might represent related but different concepts. Relates to how folks might have different approaches to and talk about it. Possibly the struggle folks have might be using the wrong concept?

Timing - might be thought of described in terms of precision, mental measurement, calculation, count; quantized to successive spacing between events in milliseconds, aligned to an abstract grid. Similar to how a computer would deal with time synced to clock.

Rhythm -  thought of as more something we naturally experience, concretely just perceptual feel. Generally different, bit larger context; includes a sensing of relative organization of meter group/division, and importantly flow. These can play a part in creating and locking into feel of steady... even a degree of entrainment that can occur.

This difference perhaps explains folks that have much easier playing to a drum machine, or rhythm track... than they do to a metronome. (there is a trick to using a metronome).

-----

People use the term "feel" of rhythm... because it relates to a physical feel... as Brian mentioned, found in other human activities. By extension, seems to help to engage your body move to rhythm of music, naturally experience the literal feel and flow. For example push/pull feel of two... left to right to left to right... and then simple feel of half between. Walking, skating, skiing, biking, or the good old dancing.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 01/29/2022 02:41:45

Jan 29, 2022 - 5:47:40 AM
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9951 posts since 3/19/2009
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Yes, a metronome not just be a physical device... I have a timing app on my phone that I can set and the beat goes thru Bluetooth and into my hearing aids.. I love it..

Jan 29, 2022 - 8:04:34 AM
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Earworm

USA

320 posts since 1/30/2018

One of the ways I use a metronome is just to play the metronome in my headphones, and let the tune play in my head, not on my fiddle. I find that this really locks a new tune into my mind, and makes my brain more active on anticipating details that I might have missed. It helps me feel the nuance more clearly, and also makes me totally accountable to the beat in a way that I may not fully feel otherwise. Alternating doing this, too, with hearing an actual recording of whatever it is, can be just the trick I need to help things click into place sometimes.

This only works (or works best) when I've already got it under my fingers on the instrument though. When I go back to my fiddle, it gives me a stronger footing. I don't hear this method of metronome use discussed much - I tend to think most people have already discovered whatever I know, but when I get into the groove of this, I get it under my skin better.

I also started clogging at a certain point in time, just so that I could master the beat on a particular tune that was totally eluding me. But that's another story.

Edited by - Earworm on 01/29/2022 08:18:37

Jan 29, 2022 - 10:01:16 AM
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13 posts since 4/6/2018

Here’s my idiosyncratic solution.

If you have a home treadmill, and a recorded version of a solo that you are learning, set the treadmill to a slow walking pace (e.g., 1.4 miles an hour). Use an app like the Amazing Slow Downer to slow a section of the solo to the point that you are walking in step with the beat. Then play the riff over and over with one step for each beat per measure.  It really helps me to feel the beat - I have made more progress with learning complicated timing doing this than through any other means.

Plus it is easier to follow and replicate rhythm when the blood is flowing to the frontal robe.

Plus if you get to the point where you can do this without a bouncing bow, just think about how much bow control you will have when you are playing while standing or sitting still…

Edited by - JWC on 01/29/2022 10:03:13

Jan 29, 2022 - 11:22:01 AM
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doryman

USA

302 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by JWC

Here’s my idiosyncratic solution.

If you have a home treadmill, and a recorded version of a solo that you are learning, set the treadmill to a slow walking pace (e.g., 1.4 miles an hour). Use an app like the Amazing Slow Downer to slow a section of the solo to the point that you are walking in step with the beat. Then play the riff over and over with one step for each beat per measure.  It really helps me to feel the beat - I have made more progress with learning complicated timing doing this than through any other means.

Plus it is easier to follow and replicate rhythm when the blood is flowing to the frontal robe.

Plus if you get to the point where you can do this without a bouncing bow, just think about how much bow control you will have when you are playing while standing or sitting still…


...and, what could possibly go wrong!?

Jan 29, 2022 - 11:35:27 AM
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Earworm

USA

320 posts since 1/30/2018

quote:
Originally posted by doryman
quote:
Originally posted by JWC

...Plus if you get to the point where you can do this without a bouncing bow, just think about how much bow control you will have when you are playing while standing or sitting still…


...and, what could possibly go wrong!?


I heard an interview with Jacob Blount (I'm about 90% sure it was him)... anyway, he mastered his bowing by fiddling while riding in a boat. Makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Jan 29, 2022 - 12:28:59 PM
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doryman

USA

302 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Earworm
quote:
Originally posted by doryman
quote:
Originally posted by JWC

...Plus if you get to the point where you can do this without a bouncing bow, just think about how much bow control you will have when you are playing while standing or sitting still…


...and, what could possibly go wrong!?


I heard an interview with Jacob Blount (I'm about 90% sure it was him)... anyway, he mastered his bowing by fiddling while riding in a boat. Makes perfect sense when you think about it.


you've never seen me on a treadmill.

Jan 29, 2022 - 7:25:12 PM
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2601 posts since 10/22/2007

Once apon a time I merely commented that I walked on a trail while playing my fiddle. It was interesting how the rhythm of one's stride effected the playing.

You'd have thought I killed kittens. How could I recommend something so wreckless? So I no longer mention it. Seriously, what have we become?

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