Thursday, November 13, 2014

Time Writ Large and Small

I am amazed at the difficulty I have in convincing people that awareness of time is a fundamental musical skill.  People think I must be talking about keeping time, you know--the 1 and  2 and  3 and  4 and.  But that is not it at all.

As a young musician I despised the metronome, if for no other reason than that it showed me (no kidding) how unable I was to agree with it.  Gradually I figured out a better use for the metronome.
This simple exercise revealed to children that they have control over their own tempo, that is, their own unconscious involvement with time, and that getting control of it on your own terms is truly rewarding. 

Play a piece you find challenging.  Play it, then clock your tempo with the metronome and write down the date and the metronomic speed.  Set the metronome to the speed you wish to play, which might be slower than what you just played -- slower is actually a more difficult adjustment than faster.  Look at the music while this new beat is ticking, but don't play.  Next time you sit down to play the piece repeat these steps and you may see a progression toward your desired tempo. 

It comes not from the metronome, actually, but from within you.