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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:53 pm 
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I need some help. As a leaner with little natural musical ability I recognise my biggest problem is maintaining timing when I play. My timing is all over the place. I practice a lot with a metronome and that helps and if I am playing along with playback tracks or YouTube etc. I can follow along okay. However when I have nothing to keep me in time that’s when the troubles begin. I am not a natural foot tapper as I end up tapping to the melody and not the rhythm.I don’t want to always have to use the metronome as a crutch. So I read that I should internalise the rythym but I find that easier said than done. The problem is (and I am sure some of you naturally gifted musicians and teachers will be shaking your heads in disbelief) when I try to count the timing in my head things go from bad to worse as again I find I count to the melody and not the timing. For example if I am counting in my head a basic 4/4 timing I can count a bar that has 4 quarter notes without a problem but woe betide if the bar has a half note or a whole note and I have to hold the note for for more than one beat as my brain instructs me to blow a note each time I count.
That’s a bit long winded but I don’t know how to explain it more clearly. Does any one have any techniques for instructing the brain to count in proper timing while continuing to accurately play the melody. Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:12 pm 
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JTU wrote:
I need some help. As a leaner with little natural musical ability I recognise my biggest problem is maintaining timing when I play. My timing is all over the place. I practice a lot with a metronome and that helps and if I am playing along with playback tracks or YouTube etc. I can follow along okay. However when I have nothing to keep me in time that’s when the troubles begin. I am not a natural foot tapper as I end up tapping to the melody and not the rhythm.I don’t want to always have to use the metronome as a crutch. So I read that I should internalise the rythym but I find that easier said than done. The problem is (and I am sure some of you naturally gifted musicians and teachers will be shaking your heads in disbelief) when I try to count the timing in my head things go from bad to worse as again I find I count to the melody and not the timing. For example if I am counting in my head a basic 4/4 timing I can count a bar that has 4 quarter notes without a problem but woe betide if the bar has a half note or a whole note and I have to hold the note for for more than one beat as my brain instructs me to blow a note each time I count.
That’s a bit long winded but I don’t know how to explain it more clearly. Does any one have any techniques for instructing the brain to count in proper timing while continuing to accurately play the melody. Thanks in advance.


Hi there! Could you maybe practice foot tapping as an exercise in and of itself? I was classically trained on the oboe, and the biggest no-no was foot tapping, so I've had to pick it up for when playing the whistle. I doubt anyone's shaking their heads though: the brain naturally loves a good rhythm, but it's completely normal to be a little befuddled by the combination background beat/melody. Start by stomping along to the metronome, to get a feel for it. Then stomp along to your favourite tunes/songs/whatever (you'll probably end up like me, and stomp like a madman while waiting for the lights to turn green out in public...). When the beat perception matches with your muscle memory, you can start to combine it with the whistle. The stomping will become autonomous. The same goes when you've trained on internalising beats. You can then let the combination between your brain's natural feel for rhythm and your practice dictate your melody, i.e. how each note hangs on to the underlying beat. That's also when practising with a metronome will start to make sense. Don't worry about it becoming a crutch. You will be able to use your improved beat perception/foot tapping as a (completely useful and valid) crutch as you improve.

If that makes sense? Sorry, that was even more long winded! :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:13 am 
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It can also help to listen to music and then call out 'one / two / three / four' (if it's in 4/4) over the music, at the same time as you're tapping your foot. Don't know why, but it helps the foot to stay in 4/4. Move your head from side to side a bit as well. All in time with the rythm.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:37 am 
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You're doing the right thing, practicing along with a metronome or recordings of good players.

For the vast majority of people who have timing issues, doing that will eventually

1) improve your internal metronome

2) improve your ability to play precisely along with others.

Like all other practice it's about dedicating huge amounts of time to it.

A person who plays with precise rhthym will always be welcome.

I've often told the story of a guy I see often, a professional drummer, who probably has one of the best senses of rhthym possible, who spends chunks of practice time every day just listening to a metronome and doing single hits on a practice pad. His idea that a drummer's sense of timing can never be quite perfect enough.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:46 am 
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I've had my first whistle about 3 weeks now, so I can confidently say I'm a learner too :thumbsup: I play a lot by ear, listen to a tune then play it. But many tunes I see written down cause me the same problems you have...what is the beat, where are the rests, where are the places to take a breath. Because many tunes are either written as proper music or whistle tabs and often it really doesn't seem clear even when you try to put that 4/4 time from the paper, into your head, then onto the whistle.

The only way I get round it is to constantly listen to whatever tune it is until if I think about the tune the beat is naturally there with it.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:57 am 
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Quote:
so I've had to pick it up for when playing the whistle


I don't understand that. You have been trained to internalise rhythms without foot tapping and I assume you were doing fine. Why would you want to learn foot tapping? It's a crutch at the best of times, it's not part of music and it can get deeply annoying in a lot of cases. FWIW, I do it myself and wish I didn't.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:28 am 
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Yes, foot-tapping shouldn't be necessary, in principle at least. But the practice isn't new, not that I thought it was - anyway, a picture of a statue from the mid-13th century: http://www.onmarkproductions.com/assets ... dbook2.jpg
(I went to that place and hand a look at it a few weeks ago)


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:34 am 
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No it isn't new and it's incredibly common. In fact I know only one player who doesn't tap his feet (and is rhythmically solid as anything).
In recent months there have been several people on the session.org complaining they can't learn it, find it difficult etc. as if it is a requirement to play traditional music. And I feel the same is echoed in the comment above : 'I had to pick it up when learning the whistle'. I question that, if your playing is solid and you don't need the crutch, stay away from it, it doesn't add anything (unless you want to go all podorhythmic on us and even that is a novelty act that wears thin quickly).

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:50 am 
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I don't tap my foot when playing the whistle (I had to actually think and do a check to be sure about that - I hadn't thought about it before). I do sometimes tap my foot if I'm sitting down and playing a guitar. But it depends on what I play. It's mostly when I'm learning something new and have to figure out the rhytm. After that I'm ok. But I (relatively) recently started playing in a band (guitar only, so far), something I'm completely unused to. To keep the timing (terribly important when playing with others, I've found..) it seems easier if I kind of sway my body a bit while playing. But I don't tap my foot, although that's probably because I'm standing up and it feels unnatural to tap a foot while standing. Hm, I'm mostly standing when playing the whistle too.. maybe that's why I don't tap.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:03 am 
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This has been a very useful discussion for me as the Poster of the question. I am not a natural foot tapper so I think I can now stay away from that and use my energy on trying to mentally count accurately whilst playing. I have to now trust that lots of practice with the metronome and playing along with well played tracks will put me within Richard’s “ the vast majority of people who have timing issue .... will eventually improve....” category. All the best.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:54 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
so I've had to pick it up for when playing the whistle


I don't understand that. You have been trained to internalise rhythms without foot tapping and I assume you were doing fine. Why would you want to learn foot tapping? It's a crutch at the best of times, it's not part of music and it can get deeply annoying in a lot of cases. FWIW, I do it myself and wish I didn't.


I agree that it's not necessary and can be pretty intrusive. I have a very good sense of rhythm, and I've never really seen the need for it. However, I only just started playing the whistle socially (sessions) for the first time in my life, and I find it sometimes helps the launching of tunes if I "introduce" the beat clearly, especially if some find it difficult to pick up. Also, I often feel myself simply caught up in the infectious rhythms of Irish stuff. Can't resist (this is evident when I'm listening by myself in headphones).

But yeah, it is by no means necessary. The activation of concurrent motor programs/muscle memory could arguably help with the internalisation of the beat. But as with everything else, we all learn in different ways. It is definitely possible to acquire a good sense of rhythm without moving any limbs.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:02 pm 
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Timing, or maybe you mean, keeping a steady tempo, isn't easy at first.

Learning ITM, I might suggest working on Jigs as they have a steady 6/8 rhythm. Brother Steve's Whistle website has some good instructional pages where he addresses timing issues. Just google it: "brother steve whistle".

Reels have their own rhythmic complications; Hornpipes are easier.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:45 am 
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tstermitz wrote:
Timing, or maybe you mean, keeping a steady tempo, isn't easy at first.
When I, at least (maybe there were others) mentioned 'timing' I didn't really mean just a steady tempo - that's the 'easy' part - what I mean by 'timing' is to hit the note or change etc. at the *right time* relative to what the others are playing. This may not be so much of a thing when you're playing just a string of eights all the way, so it depends on the music. The fundament is a steady tempo, of course, but there's more than that. When the timing is 'right' is where you suddenly get the groove - the differences can be subtle.


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