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Been teaching for a while, and I have a pecentage of students who haven't been able to develop a sense of rhtyhm. They have good tone and intonation, play keys accurately, and get the theory, but just can't maintain a steady beat. One of my students jokingly admitted that he's 'too white'
We've tried playing along with a metronome, some simpler, more familiar passages, as well as 'back of the book' rhythm exercises,really no improvement.
Anyone have any good recommendations on how to get through this rough spot?
 

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I have always hated tapping my foot instead trying to feel the beat to know where to play. A few years ago, I was playing Tenor in an Ensemble. The Ensemble leader got down and literally made me tap my foot. It was slightly embarassing. You might try that. If you have a class though it might be alittle harder.
Hope this helps.
Also you could have one group play upbeats and one down beats.
 

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It's interesting, among the students I've had over the last few years, some just can't get the rhythm part down. The closest they can get is if they tap their foot. And just from my standpoint, I don't see anything wrong with foot tapping. I tend to get a little bit of a foot tap going when I am playing a solo and get into a cranking run or something complicated, it helps me focus.

So don't discourage them from foot tapping. It can help. Clapping helps. Making them do rhythm only sight reading helps a lot. I have gotten some students on board nicely with sight reading exercises. The sight reading makes them focus more on the rhythm then if they were playing something familiar. Also, make them practice with a metronome, always.
 

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What helped me...

Well, speaking as someone who had similar problems as a student, here are some things that helped ME:

I started working daily with Walt Weiskopfs' "AROUND THE HORN" with the loudest metronome I could find. I did this daily for at least one hour for many, many months...I began to "count" every single piece of music I found myself listening to regardless of whether it was jazz, rock, whatever...I also practiced my long tones with a metronome....

But, honestly, it was something I just had to develop. I'm very impatient with material. I had to learn to let it unwind in it's own time. I was always "rushing" the music......

I don't know if that helps. I heard somewhere that:

"A right note played at the wrong time is a wrong note." I tend to agree with that....

brian
 

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brianincairo said:
Well, speaking as someone who had similar problems as a student, here are some things that helped ME:
.....
I began to "count" every single piece of music I found myself listening to regardless of whether it was jazz, rock, whatever...I also practiced my long tones with a metronome....

brian
I listened to my favourite music (it don't matter what kind) and began clapping, nodding, or tapping my foot to the beat. I still do this today.
JAZZNSKA, I suggest you ask you students to do this, it may be less boring and tedious than doing rhythm exercises.
Hope this helps.

Ben.
 

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Joelsp - can you tell us what sight reading exercise you use? I seem to be in the same boat as Jazznska's students. All suggestions appreciated but I've been searching for some kind of exercises for months, with no real success.
 

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fred12 said:
Joelsp - can you tell us what sight reading exercise you use? I seem to be in the same boat as Jazznska's students. All suggestions appreciated but I've been searching for some kind of exercises for months, with no real success.
I don't mean to keep pushing a product, but that Weiskopf book really got me whipped into shape...I think you can get it from Aebersold's site and it's pretty reasonable...like, maybe 12.00 bucks, something like that? also check out this forum for some of Steve Neff's patterns and excercizes....I've benefited from those as well...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Listening

Yes, thanks for bringing listening up, I failed to mention listening to music and tapping along. I have started some of them with that. The hard part about that is, just like any other practicing, is setting aside time to do it. If you do it at work or in the car on the way home, you're not really focusing as well as you should.
I do appreciate allthe feedback, keep it coming.
 

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Interesting! A friend of mine, a music faculty member, professional orchestral musician, and teacher of clarinet and sax, believes that there exists the rhythmic equivalent of "tone deafness", that there are some who, for whatever reason, find it difficult or impossible to "feel" the rhythms inherent music. I don't know how she approaches this in her teaching, except that she has said that it can be partly compensated for only by intense focus on the mathematical aspects of rhythm and counting (implying lots of metronome work and careful breakdown into mathematical units of notes and rests). There is a gentleman in a community band of which I am a member who has played music most of his life, but nonetheless stumbles badly on what most with his experience would find the simplest possible syncopated rhythms or triplet combinations. I'm following with interest what those of you who have experienced severe difficulties with rhythm and those of you who teach music have to say on this.
Ruth
 

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Some students do struggle with rhythm and locating the beat to an extent that seems almost incredible. Sometimes I've found that this can be due to some very fundamental misconceptions about what "beat" is or because of a kind of "self-consciousness" about rhythm - you never seem to find someone who likes dancing who struggles with this aspect, I've noticed. I've also noticed that some teenagers go through a stage where they're less clear about beat. Again, self-consciousness? On the "fundamental misconception" line I have come across a situation where a pupil (who'd come to me from another teacher) had the idea that every 3/4 bar needed to be counted in 4 beats (!!) And I had been confused as to why his sense of rhythm seemed so totally out!
 

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I remember my band director writing the rhythm on the board, and asking us to say it while she clapped the 1, 2, 3, 4...

We got into the whole "One and a, Two and a, Three e and a Four.."
 

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fred12 said:
Joelsp - can you tell us what sight reading exercise you use? I seem to be in the same boat as Jazznska's students. All suggestions appreciated but I've been searching for some kind of exercises for months, with no real success.
I actually use basic or intermediate drum books. Anything like Rubank, etc.
I also write out a lot of them for the student, based on what they are having the most trouble with.

A good example is one of my students has trouble with syncopation. So I will write out a 16 bar rhythm only exercise that has a lot of syncopation, mixing it in with more straight rhythms. As the student is able to read that one well, I will give him a second one that is slightly more complicated, and so on.

I also have the student write their own rhythms, and have gone as far as having them take a song they really enjoy, and having them transcribe the main rhythms in the song. Whether that be a pop song, or a jazz tune, or whatever. This seems to help them get into the music, and students I have had do this seem to have a better understanding of how rhythm works as a result.

Hope any of that helps.
 
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