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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:06 am 
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I usually practice and play solo. I used to practice 4 or 5 times a week but work commitments have prevented me from practicing that much in the past year or so. These days, I'm back to basics, such as practicing with a metronome, something I haven't done in years.

I've noticed that I tend to play triplets and crans too quickly, and play long rolls too slowly. This is not something I would have spotted without the metronome.

I've also noticed that I play much faster than I used to. In the past, I would play certain jigs at 92 bmp, whereas these days I feel more comfortable playing the same jigs at 104 bmp.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:54 am 
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I know there's sometimes controversy around using a metronome for practicing Irish music, but I have also found it helpful for "checking in" with how my general tempo is doing. For the first couple years with the pipes I had the hardest time keeping the tempo consistent. Someone mentioned to me it might have to do with bellows movement throwing off general timing. Whatever it was, I sometimes will just turn on a metronome and play tunes at different speeds for 30 mins or so. I've found that it has helped me greatly.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:26 pm 
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I would be curious to hear an argument against using a metronome to practise...


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:32 pm 
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JordanMcConnell wrote:
I would be curious to hear an argument against using a metronome to practise...

Real Irish musicians don't do that.

You shouldn't need one.

They distract you from the music.

I've never seen the need for one.

They make your playing mechanical.


There are some others. None make any more sense that the ones I listed above.

IMHO.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:02 am 
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walrii wrote:
JordanMcConnell wrote:
I would be curious to hear an argument against using a metronome to practise...

Real Irish musicians don't do that.

You shouldn't need one.

They distract you from the music.

I've never seen the need for one.

They make your playing mechanical.


There are some others. None make any more sense that the ones I listed above.

IMHO.

I think this is yet another of those cases where people nowadays can't think in nuanced ways. I don't mean you, walrii, but some of those 'reasons' you give illustrate what I'm talking about, and it's just as bad when people say things that imply putting absolute faith in metronomes for sorting out rhythm issues. A lot of people these days can't see things as "potentially good, providing [... x, y, z]"; instead they have to classify things as "good" or "bad".

In my opinion, metronomes have a useful function when used thoughtfully, but can be counter-productive when used without sufficient thought. I strongly believe that developing a good, inner rhythm and learning to listen to oneself through slow practice is the best way to develop good rhythm. However, in passages where ones rhythm is falling apart, it can be illuminating to use a metronome to flag up where one is speeding up or slowing down. Then I think you should go back to the slow practice, listening intently, and maybe try it with the metronome again and note any improvement.

The above is my argument for why a metronome can be useful. On the other hand, I have found over many years that there is a species of person who swears that their rhythm is perfect because they "always practice with a metronome" or some such comment. I have found that such people invariably have dreadful rhythm. I think this is because they stop thinking and, instead, let the metronome do their thinking for them. What seems to happen is that, within beats there is a constant sense of 'catching up' with the beat, with precious little in the way of good rhythm for the notes in between. It's a strange thing, but I think you can hear when people have relied on metronomes too much and haven't developed a good inner ear for what they're playing.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:27 am 
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Well said, Ben. The metronome is a tool to aid learning. One could learn to play a whistle (or any instrument) with no tools at all other than the whistle itself but that would be reinventing the music starting about a million years ago. Recordings, YouTube videos, live music, sessions, formal instruction, informal instruction, online instruction, C&F posts, sheet music, abc's, tabs, metronomes and others are all tools to aid learning. Some tools work better in some situations than others but deliberately ignoring an available tool is just as wasteful as persevering with a tool that has proved unsuitable to the situation at hand.

My earlier post was deliberately black-and-white to point out the flimsy reasons sometimes given for not using a metronome. A similar list of flimsy reasons could be made for using one as a silver bullet to solve all one's musical problems.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:42 am 
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walrii wrote:
My earlier post was deliberately black-and-white to point out the flimsy reasons sometimes given for not using a metronome. A similar list of flimsy reasons could be made for using one as a silver bullet to solve all one's musical problems.

Quite right. I think we agree. Again. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:16 am 
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I agree with the above comments as well. The "controversy" I was referring to was outlined well by walrii. I was originally trained as a kid on the clarinet and sax, and in that world the metronome was often a required teaching device. So for me it was natural to use in it the trad world, smoothing out places I stumble, like Ben mentioned.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:28 pm 
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I found my phone's volume wasn't loud enough to run a metronome app effectively unless I listened through headphones, which then blocks out a bit of your actual playing. Are people using those old style tock-tock wooden metronomes? Or what devices have people found effective?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:29 pm 
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For the metronome on my phone, the volume is just loud enough. But sometimes when learning a tune or song by ear it isn't quite loud enough to pick up the nuances. In those cases I use a Bluetooth speaker. I've heard of people using the old school metronomes because they like seeing the movement.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:06 pm 
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Plug this into your phone (or other metronome):

Image

https://www.amazon.com/Peterson-BPS1-BodyBeat-Pulse-Metronome/dp/B01G0U1CZK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499825033&sr=8-1&keywords=body+metronome

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:07 am 
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No,no,no to metromone . Use your internal metronome , we all have one, learn to use it. Your music will be more human, natural and appealing and you will be a better piper for it.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:10 am 
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rorybbellows wrote:
No,no,no to metromone . Use your internal metronome , we all have one, learn to use it. Your music will be more human, natural and appealing and you will be a better piper for it.
And how do you learn to use it? Why, by training it with an external metronome, of course.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:39 am 
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Why, by training it with an external metronome, of course.


Not necessarily. Playing with people who have things right and/or playing for dancers are both well established means of training rhythms in Irish music, external, but no metronome. Knowing how to dance a set is another means of becoming familiar with the rhythms of Irish music. Developing your inner ear to become attuned to beat, pulse and internal rhythms of a tune does not depend on mechanical devices. They can be a help but are by no means a necessity.

And yes, you do get people who have their beats right but their internal rhythms all garbled up, they are just about the worst to play with as, generally, they cannot understand what they are doing wrong. People who know how to dance a set well on the other hand, they usually have a well developed sense of rhythm when they take up an instrument.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:53 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Not necessarily. Playing with people who have things right and/or playing for dancers are both well established means of training rhythms in Irish music, external, but no metronome. Knowing how to dance a set is another means of becoming familiar with the rhythms of Irish music. Developing your inner ear to become attuned to beat, pulse and internal rhythms of a tune does not depend on mechanical devices. They can be a help but are by no means a necessity.

Playing with others to develop good rhythms is definitely ideal. For me the metronome is just a way to touch base. My internal rhythms are usually pretty solid, there's just something about the pipes where I sometimes speed up a phrase or two. But both playing with others and checking in with a metronome has helped greatly and made me especially aware of where I need to slow down.

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