using a metronome without sounding like a robot

using a metronome without sounding like a robot

hi folks , im a flute learner and after recording myself i realised my rhythm is all over the place , so I got myslef a digital metronome. I used the preset triple time and 4/4 time for jigs and reels obviously enough and then realised it helped me to play like a robot!
what I do now is just use it to play on the ONE ( of the 1 2 3 or 1 2 3 4 ) and it seems better.
Is this how folks tend to use metronomes for ITM?
Any tricks Im missing here?
Thanks.

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

When I use mine (which is whenever I practice) I have it click on 1 and 4 for jigs, 1 and 3 for reels and hornpipes (sometimes 2 & 4), the off beats of 2 and 4 for polkas , 1 for waltzes, 1,4 and 7 for slip jigs.

I think it’s good to use a metronome when you’re in the woodshed but also good to play along with recordings to get a human feel and hear how different people deal with time. Then when you play with real people, you can offer your session mates the best of both worlds in your playing.

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

A metronome will help prevent two mistakes; slowing down at the hard parts, and rushing the tempo in general. Here’s what I do when learning a tune; after I can play it through very slowly, I set the metronome to 60 and keep that beat on 1,2,3,4 for reels and 123 456 for jigs, gradually increasing the speed. When I get up to around 120, I feel I can play the tune in our session.

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

thanks steve and greg.
Greg are you saying with metronome on 60 , this clicks for just the 1 ? That would corresspond with what I am doing.
I also meant to ask should I learn to play straight with no swing ( so use the nome to click 1234 etc ) and than vary it or play with swing ffrom the start.

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

"Any tricks Im missing here?"

I know this probably isnt going to answer your question about metronomes, but there are three essential words for working on rhythm:

listen listen listen!!!!!

Listen to everybody, and everything you can find! not just flute players. Definitly listen to Mary Bergin, listen to how she phrases the tunes, and listen to how she plays her jigs, the rhythm in her jigs is very special.

Feel the rhythm, move to it, let it flow through ya! When you have it in you itll come out through your playing.

best of luck

Pete

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

I only use a metronome to hear what phrases I may be speeding up or slowing down. Once I hear it, I’m concious of it, and can work on it without a metronome.

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

my advice: don’t attempt to match notes to the beat of the metronome, but rather match the pulse of your breathing to the metronome. In this way you internalize the pulse.

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

get a clockwork metronome. Watching the swinging arm, even out of the corner of your eye, really helps.

One problem to watch out for though, is if you are in the habit of slowing down certain phrases, the metronome will make you speed up the next phrase, to get your self back in time. This just makes it twice as bad

Posted .

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

Many years ago, when I was learning the piano, my teacher used a metronome for one purpose only, and that was to set the speed for practicing a piece, starting slow and gradually speeding as the weeks went by. At no time was I required to play along with the metronome.

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

metronome sure helped me get an even tempo… one trick jazz players use : a lot of peope practice with metronome on 1 and 3 beats in the mesure (for instance reels…) but try playing with the metronome on 2 and 4. very difficult at the beginning, but when you can do, your tempo is very secure, and you can play with it, lentghening some notes and shortening others, while keeping a steady tempo. that makes you play anything but like a robot. listen to Martin Hayes, he’s got such a steady tempo, and plays so beutifully…

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

Since you’re still learning the flute and just starting out with the metronome I wouldn’t be concerned at all about playing like a robot. On the contrary! :-)

When you’re starting out practicing with a metronome and your tempo previously was fairly unsteady, you have to concentrate very hard on the click in order to stay with it. Of course, that will make you play more mechanically. Once you get more used to playing at a steady beat, you can ignore the metronome much more easily.

Practicing with a metronome has IMO two major effects:
- you get used to playing at a steady beat by giving you constant (if annoying) feedback on where you speed up and where you slow down. After a while, playing at a steady beat becomes second nature.
- it helps you to develop more control over your muscles/finger movements. Our fingers are uneven in length, i.e. if you don’t control their movement, they will rise and come down on the instrument at different speeds. Once you’ve achieved that greater control over your fingers, you also have the tools to really take the music and play it like you feel it. You’re in control of the tune and not the other way round (meaning, tricky passages or specific sequences will automatically speed you up or slow you down). There will be no robot-like playing be left at that point.

In the beginning, I’d even encourage you to play as robot-like, as precisely in sync with the metronome as possible.
>what I do now is just use it to play on the ONE ( of the 1 2 3 or 1 2 3 4 ) and it seems better.
I think with this approach there is the danger that - once that main beat of the metronome is not there any more as in a session setting - the remaining unevenness of the other notes will throw you off-kilter in not time. You must be able to play like a robot (ie. have the skill to control you fingers and whatever else your particular instrument requires) as much as possible in order to control the music you’ll be playing.

One exercise to help you increase you finger control is to play tunes at varying rhtyhms (with the metronome running). Play everything in a dotted rhtyhm; reverse this rhythm as is Scottish snaps; group the notes differently (e.g. groups of three, four, five etc.); slur everything; play everything staccato, etc.

The number of clicks per bar depends obviously on the speed your playing. Long pauses between the clicks are not very helpful, neither are too many clicks at a fast tempo where you can’t tell whether you just slipped one click behind or rushed one click ahead. ;-)
But as has been mentioned above, it’s very useful to start playing slowly and once you have no problems to keep that tempo, speed it up gradually. Also, playing fairly slow without speeding up requires a lot of discipline and control; very useful excercise.

Posted by .

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

Where’s that darn editing button?
"in no time" and "you’re playing" (and whatever other typos I’ve missed) of course! :D

Posted by .

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

I’ve had problems with speeding up myself. Instead of the metronome I play along with the midi files here on the site. You can practice your steadiness and tone at the same time. Plus you’ll have an aural reminder of how a tune begins instead of glancing at some music.

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

"I play along with the midi files here on the site"
Well if you are going to do that, why not get hold of the Navigator from http://abcnavigator.free.fr/. Then you can select you own speed, play a tune once, repeatedly or as part of sets, have your "virtual accompanist" use various instruments and so on.
Of course there are other things best learnt from playing with real people, but there is a huge amount of practise you can get from software like that.

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

thanks for all the help folks, lots to work on

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

When I first started learning I had a metronome. Unfortunately it speeded up at the hard parts and slowed down at the easy parts so I gave up with it in the end ;-)

Re: using a metronome without sounding like a robot

There is a useful place for coming to grips with a metronome, as this is dance music and about supplying the ground, basic beat, for dances, for stepping. Slowing down and speeding up his hell, and that is the ‘style’ that seems most prevalent with session players. It quickly tires out dancers and eats away at and consideration or patience many dancers are usually more than willing to give to developing players. Dancers are dependant on more than just the first beat of any bar. While I have known players that seem able to hold together the start of every bar, what happens on the way from one to the other an be mush. So, while we don’t want music that sounds like a metronome, having a hand on a steady rhythm is a blessing and the kind of lift that helps to not only carry the dancers along but also other musicians. If you are always trying to ‘catch up’ to a varying beat, well, you never can. Only a solid beat gives the groove that welcomes all, that can be trusted and followed… Generally sessions fail there…

The midi files are a useful alternative. With metronome use, it should only be a set short time, just to become aware of where we slip up. The idea of practising everything with a metronome, or to midi, is scary, especially if it means you sound like the midi or a metronome, which shouldn’t be our ultimate purpose. Like having sheetmusic in front of you, it is a detraction that gets in the way of becoming one with the music…dancing with it…listening intimately to it…