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Discussion Starter #1
I`m trying to improve my timing and of course the suggestion is get the metronome going and listen to it.
The problem is trying to figure out the notes, their timing and get your hands going to play them as well as listening to the "ding click,click,click,". My playing speed drops down a lot and I`m not sure the metronome is helping because of my divided attention.
What do you think of the idea of not playing at all, but just run the metronome at increasing speeds while you sight read the sheet music in front of you. I have a feeling that doing that a lot, your brain would start registering the perfect timing which would then help in your playing?
 

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I had the same problem, and what you suggest does help. Another thing I did was playing scales out of the Rubanks book in eighth, quarter, half, and whole notes to the metronome. Scales don't take much concentration, so you can pay more attention to the metronome. The sense of timing that gives you translates over to your music playing after awhile. Also, when you listen to music on the radio or other media, start practicing listening for the beat and counting the time. That will translate over to when you play as well.
 

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I think that singing through the phrases with the metronome is a good idea. It will give you a sense of the flow of the phrases. But when you play your saxophone with the metronome, you should go SLOWLY, so that you can play everything in each phrase without slowing down or getting "off" from the metronome. If there are certain parts of the phrase that are giving you problems, isolate those few notes and practice them so that you can play them cleanly without slowing down. Then incorporate them back into the entire phrase.

Bottom line: If you're slowing down (for technical, not musical reasons) parts of the music, then you're trying to go too fast. Slow the whole tempo down and strive for even time.
 

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Another really basic thing you can do to get the hang of practicing with a metronome is set it to something slow, like 40-60bpm, and play staccato notes along with the click. If your metronome is not too loud then when you're playing really accurate time, you wont be able to hear the metronome click any more. You can also just clap along and that's a pretty good exercise. Then you can move on to scales, first in quarter notes (1 per click) then eights, etc. Start simple and build.
 

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He wasn't speaking directly of metronome practice, but what Glenn Miller used to tell his brass and reed sections applies: "If you can't swing without the band, I don't want you with the band."
 

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I'm old and easily confused...

Are you using the metronome while playing through pieces that you are already familiar with or new pieces that you are 'sight reading' (Playing for the very first time)?
 

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You might also try playing scales, etc, to the metronome without reading them. As bandmommy implies (I think), it's important to know the material you are playing pretty well, so you aren't struggling with the notes while also working on your timing.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
All good suggestions but it is not simple scales to a metronome that is difficult. Neither, for me, is knowing technically the accurate timing of some complex bars.
One way, as suggested, is to use a metronome and build up speed from dead slow.
The other way (perhaps?) is to not play when the metronome is on at all. Just read the music with it. Anyway that`s what I have been trying and I`m beginning to sense that after a lot of listening my brain is subconsciously hearing the correct beat timing at all speeds on complex bars with no metronome going.
I`m not suggesting this for any particular piece of music you are trying to correctly play. I`m suggesting doing this regularly for practice pages, etudes, heaps of stuff never seen before. Just to get the brain to adapt.
 

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You might give these two approaches a try. First, set the metronome to the lowest common denominator. What I mean is, if the selection you are reading has a lot of sixteenth notes, set your metronome to sixteenth notes rather than quarters. This will slow you down and also help to feel the relationships of the notes to one and other in terms of how many of the faster notes fit into a beat. Exercise two is to adjust the metronome to sound on half notes but play along so the sound of the metronome happens on beats two and four of a four four measure. This will give you a chance to develop the "feel" of the music as if the metronome was a hi-hat. You could do these exercises as a reading study without the sax as you have suggested but I would spend more time with the sax in your hands. I only do "mental" practises at times when actual sax practise is not possible.
 

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... it is not simple scales to a metronome that is difficult. Neither, for me, is knowing technically the accurate timing of some complex bars..
You have no problem playing scales in time to a metronome and no problem playing 'complex bars' with accurate timing. In that case, I'm a little unclear as to what the problem is. Obviously I'm missing something.
 

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You have no problem playing scales in time to a metronome and no problem playing 'complex bars' with accurate timing. In that case, I'm a little unclear as to what the problem is. Obviously I'm missing something.
Ronish says "knowing technically the accurate timing of complex bars" which is different from playing them.

Rhys
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Soupportwenty, I`ve never thought of your No.2 approach before. It sounds interesting. I suppose you would set the met. up as a slow 2/4 beat and no "Bell"?
 

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I just set in at half what I would for quarter notes (example: 88 goes to 44). As far as the "bell" goes, I assume you mean a different chime that happens on beat one for electronic units. If using an electronic metronome, choose a setting if you can that eliminates the different sound on beat one. I just wind mine up so I guess I get the "no bell" prize! This approach takes a little getting used to for some but I do think it is a worthwhile exercise. However, I would advise working more with the first approach (setting the metronome to the type of note that happens most often) and getting comfortable with that first. Then the beat on two and four "thing" seems to come easier for my students.
 

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What Souportwenty says is good sound advice. You should if you wish to take things further try various extra things - which should practised over a period of time naturally. When using a metronome practice at a very slow tempo
a) try to play a scale up and down landing on each 'click'. If you are correct you won't hear the metronome.
b) try the same thing but imagine that the clicks are whole notes and you should place you note exactly in between (i.e. and eighth note). The distance between should be spot on - if you understand what I mean!
c) Try hearing the click as the last beat of a triplet and you play your scale on the beat. This will give (as an ex) C2(3),D2(3),E2(3) etc. The (3) is of course a click.
d) Try the same thing but with the click on the (2) of the triplet.
e) Try playing a scale with your metronome and play your note on the (3) of the triplet. The metronome will beat the 1 and you play on each 3 of the triplet (you need to hear it in your head of course). Click-2-note, click-2-note etc.
f) Try playing a melody over a very slow metronome beat either on the beat or on the off beat.
e) Try playing a melody with the click on one of the beats in the bar i.e. on the 4 or make it difficult the '4 and'.

I hope that will be of some use.
 

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Working with a click is a skill like any other. Practice makes perfect. Everything you play at home should be metronome driven until you are completely comfortable doing this. In another thread someone asked about tips for composing and I said I frequently start with piano or a beat. Had I been thinking more clearly, I would have said I started songs written in this fashion with a click. From around 1986 to 2000, 90% of everything I did was click based. 100% when it came time to go to tape. I think it really helped my development as a musician.
 

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Ronish says "knowing technically the accurate timing of complex bars" which is different from playing them.
Well then, if this is the case, then I think my advice in post #7 stands (as does all the other good advice on this thread):

Play scales, tunes, etc, to the metronome without reading them off the page.
 

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All good suggestions but it is not simple scales to a metronome that is difficult. Neither, for me, is knowing technically the accurate timing of some complex bars.
One way, as suggested, is to use a metronome and build up speed from dead slow.
The other way (perhaps?) is to not play when the metronome is on at all. Just read the music with it. Anyway that`s what I have been trying and I`m beginning to sense that after a lot of listening my brain is subconsciously hearing the correct beat timing at all speeds on complex bars with no metronome going.
I`m not suggesting this for any particular piece of music you are trying to correctly play. I`m suggesting doing this regularly for practice pages, etudes, heaps of stuff never seen before. Just to get the brain to adapt.
To me the metronome is like a lie detector. It catches you out if you do not have a solid sense of time. I cannot see any upside in practicing WITHOUT a metronome, i.e a STRONG sense of time. Surely the brain could adapt to playing with a metronome ?
 

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All good suggestions but it is not simple scales to a metronome that is difficult. Neither, for me, is knowing technically the accurate timing of some complex bars.
One way, as suggested, is to use a metronome and build up speed from dead slow.
The other way (perhaps?) is to not play when the metronome is on at all. Just read the music with it. Anyway that`s what I have been trying and I`m beginning to sense that after a lot of listening my brain is subconsciously hearing the correct beat timing at all speeds on complex bars with no metronome going.
I`m not suggesting this for any particular piece of music you are trying to correctly play. I`m suggesting doing this regularly for practice pages, etudes, heaps of stuff never seen before. Just to get the brain to adapt.
Do have a hard time playing highly syncopated pieces like this?
 
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