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CHAPTER II - Uses of the Metronome for AcquiringSkill

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The last chapter described various methods and technique employed bymusicians using the metronome to establish agreement among themselves on themeasurement and specification of the tempo of music.

This chapter describes various methods and techniques employed by musiceducators and performing artists for using the metronome in attaining perfectperformance of complex rhythmic passages.

Acquiring the Sense of Time Division

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A faculty that all musicians must possess is that of instantly andaccurately dividing time beats into 2, 3 or 4 equal parts. Composers of modernmusic are even demanding division into 5, 7 and 9 parts.

The division of beats intotwo is usually [see figure 3] accomplished with ease, even by beginningstudents, by counting "and" between each numbered beat of themetronome. Set the metronome at Quarter Note=60 and count 1 and 2 and, as shownhere:

When this counting does notcome with ease and precision the metronome speed should be doubled,

[see figure 5] as shown here,

to beat the "ands"also, but the counting should still be 1 and, 2 and, etc., as before. When thisis successfully done, and the metronome is turned back to the original slowtempo, the student will usually be able to count the "and," exactlybetween the numbered beats.

To divide a beat accurately into three equal intervals, as shown in thesenext two bars, is more difficult. A little practice, with the metronome firstset at 60 and then at faster, and finally at slower beats down to 40, isexcellent practice. Either count the triplets aloud or beat them [see figure 6]with a pencil.

If difficulty is experiencedin maintaining accurately spaced triplets set the metronome at three times thetempo and beat 1 da da, 2 da da etc., as shown here in figure 6; then check, aswas described above for division into two. The two dangers to avoid are thetendency toward irregularity and the tendency to beat three sixteenth notes andone sixteenth rest.

Still more difficult is the division of two beats into triplets (truetriplets), as shown in these two bars. It is well to set the metronome at 120,as shown in figure 7, and beat the triplets; then to set the metronome at 180and beat the duplets. Note that one beat of the duplet is coincident with oneheat of the triplet, hut that the next heat of the duplet is exactly in themiddle of the next two heats of the triplet.

Spontaneous division of beatsinto quarters is not as difficult as division into triplets. If difficulty isexperienced in beating quarter divisions of beats, exercises, like those [seefigure 8] previously described for division into two, are used.

ExercisesFor Sight Reading of Rhythms

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When a fair degree of accuracy in recognition and beating of thesedivisions is attained the following exercise by Floyd E. Low (or any similarone) may be practiced with the metronome at Quarter Note=60. It is even moredifficult and instructive to beat this exercise accurately at Quarter Note=40.[see figure 9]


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One educator describes "wheels" with the left hand. Uniformcircular motion of the hand (and arm) is essential. One "wheel"always represents a quarter note. Two spokes to the wheel beat eighth notes;three spokes beat triplets; four beat sixteenths, and so on. Set the metronomeat any appropriate tempo and turn one "wheel" for each beat of themetronome

realvideo example

Learning Complicated Rhythms

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The following procedure is generally employed, with only slightmodifications, in learning complicated and tricky rhythms.

(a) Find the shortest note in the passage (but, in general do not choose anote less than a sixteenth).

(b) Assign one metronome beat to it.

(c) Figure how many such beats should be given to all the other notes, andrests.

(d) Start the metronome, at about 60 or 92 with one beat=shortest note. Thistempo should be chosen slow enough to permit accurate playing of the rhythm yetfast enough to reveal the rhythmic pattern.

(e) Now Further increase the speed by assigning one metronome beat to twoand then to four of the shortest notes. During this process, while acquiringthe skill of muscular sequence response, pay particular attention to conformrigidly to the metronome beats.

(f) When performance tempo can be achieved with accuracy of rhythm,introduce the desired shadings and nuances, if they are required in thepassage. Examples of this procedure follow.

The Double Dotted Quarter Note

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To play these notescorrectly, following the above procedure, we find the sixteenth [see figure 10]note is the shortest and we assign one metronome beat to it. We then figurethat the double dotted quarter note should receive seven beats

Starting the metronome at Sixteenth Note=160 we play the double dottedquarter note holding it for seven metronome beats. We then play the sixteenthnote holding it for one beat. Then, exactly on the next heat we repeat. Thisplaying must be repeated until precise and accurate coincidence with themetronome beats is achieved. When it is, the metronome speed is graduallyincreased to Sixteenth Note=208 still counting one beat to a sixteenth note.

Now the metronome is set at 104 (half the last setting) and an eighth noteis given one heat (Eighth Note=104, the same tempo). Instead of counting I 2 34 5 6 7 8, we count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. This done, we increase the speedof the metronome to any comfortable practicing tempo, say 160. In this example,and especially at the higher tempos, we must he sure that the sixteenth note isshort enough. There is a tendency to make it sound more like an eighth notethan a sixteenth.

In practicing this exercise on bowed instruments, it is advisable to playboth notes in one measure with a down bow and both notes in the followingmeasure with an up bow, It may be well to point out here so that both theeducator and student may [see figure 11] watch it, that even the common dottedquarter followed by an eighth note is often played inaccurately, the dottedquarter being too short and the eighth being held too long. Since thiscombination of notes (and its relative equivalent: dotted eighth followed by asixteenth) is the repetitive basic pattern of much "Boogie Woogie"music, such musicians must learn this pattern accurately.

It should be pointed out thatwhen playing "swing" eighth notes, one should not rigidly execute thedotted eighth followed by a sixteenth, but instead play the second attackearlier almost to that of an eighth note triplet where the first two eighthsare tied together. It can be helpful to use the metronome to beat out onlybeats 2 and 4 when developing the feel of swing eighth notes [See figure 12].

Example fromBizet, L'Arlesienne Suite For Orchestra

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In this un poco mento lento passage from this Overture we recognize our oldfriend, the triplet of three [see figure 13] eighth notes. The shortest notesand the shortest rests are eighths (not counting the triplets). Since There areeight of the shortest notes to a measure, we count eight metronome beats to ameasure. We can count 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 or 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, as indicated.

The triplet is countedagainst the first two heats, being careful to preserve the relations previouslydescribed in this chapter. The eighth note follows exactly on the thirdmetronome bear, so that, considering only the beginning of the sound of eachnote, these first four sounds start at exactly equally spaced intervals.However, the fourth sound (the eighth note) is held for a full metronome beat(whereas the first three beats were held less than a full metronome beat-to beexact, 2/3 beat each). The rest begins exactly at the 4th metronome beat and onthe 5th beat it stops, and the pattern is repeated. Each detail should becarefully studied and understood before attempting to practice with themetronome. Learning the pattern by reasoning facilitates eventual accurateperformance.

Drum Corps Marching Down the Street

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This familiar melody for the fife with its grace notes affords an excellentexample of the application of metronome technique to the interpretation andexecution of tricky passages. [see figure 14]

figure 14

By rule (a)mentioned earlier, we find the shortest note to be the sixteenth note. So weassign one beat to it, and, if the rhythm were unfamiliar, we would assign alow setting to it, say Sixteenth Note=92. Then, counting as indicated below thestaff (at "beginning"), we could easily execute the passage. Thetempo is slow enough to enable full comprehension of each note value (exceptthe two triplets which we shall discuss later).

Users of this method stress the desirability of making haste slowly at thisearly stage. It is here that the mind, directing the correct note-time values,has time also for simultaneous reflection on the phrasing and dynamics whichwill be introduced when the rhythm is absolutely understood and under consciouscontrol.

When it is felt that one has a thorough comprehension of the rhythm themetronome is notched up to say Sixteenth Note=104 and then to SixteenthNote=120. Playing at this still slow tempo tends to fix the muscular sequenceand permits more attention to other matters besides rhythm.

At about this point, the metronome is set at Eighth Note=60 and thecounting is changed as shown (at "later"), giving eighth notes onemetronome beat. This is then worked up to Eighth Note=120 whereupon themetronome is set to Quarter Note=60 and the tempo worked up to concertperformance. It is in this stage that muscular coordination, dexterity, andhabit formation receive attention for skillful execution. This is the"agility with accuracy" stage. During this stage the metronome israrely referred to.

Reference has been made to the triplets. The execution of the first tripletshould be done according to the technique previously described in this chapter.The second triplet is actually not a triplet but a group of grace notes and, assuch, it must take its time value from the preceding note. How this can be doneis illustrated in the expanded fragment of the affected notes, which is showndirectly below them in figure 14.

figure 14

Since therewill be some rapid playing here which must not be fuzzy when brought to concerttempo. it is well to divide this fragment into thirty-second note values forinterpretation and study.

In the fragment illustrated in figure 15, the first and second eighth noteswill receive four such beats each. The dotted eighth will receive six beats andwill be counted as shown.

Figure 15

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Passing over the last sixteenth note for the moment, the accent must fall onthe first eighth note in the next measure, and this note must begin to soundexactly at the beginning of that measure. Therefore the time value of the threegrace notes preceding it must be taken from the last note of the precedingmeasure, the sixteenth note. Shortening this note to a thirty-second, we haveone thirty-second left in that measure for the grace notes which we move (atleast in our mind if not on paper) to the end of the preceding measure, asshown. These three notes are then played in one beat as a triplet, whilecounting 4, as shown (which is very rapid), and slurred into the accentedeighth note beginning the next measure.

Having thus interpreted, analyzed and assigned time values to all thenotes, next set the metronome at a slow enough tempo to play the tripletseasily and correctly, say Thirty- second Note=circa 92, and work up speed withcontrol of rhythm as described before.

[See figure 15 above]

The ultimate correct performance of the Adagio to this Sonata will befacilitated if the opening measures are analyzed and counted, as shown in thisexample. Start with the metronome at Sixteenth Note=58, and keep the practiceslow, while watching the pedaling, breath pauses, phrasing, crescendos andother expressions. In view of previous explanations, no further explanation ofthe counting illustrated is necessary, except perhaps to point out that when athirty-second note is reached (half a metronome beat) the word "and"may be used, as shown, in counting it.

It is important not to advance the tempo too soon. Keep it at SixteenthNote=58 for several lessons. During this stage we have the best opportunity forstudying the nuances. The reason for this is that the mind is not hurried byand burdened with the dominating demands of the complicated rhythm, allowing notime for the other musical demands. When all these demands have been studiedand appreciated and performed at the slow tempo, and only then, is it time toincrease the tempo by degrees to say Sixteenth Note=72. Having mastered thefundamentals, progress will be rapid now. Change the metronome to EighthNote=46 and continue up to concert tempo. During this stage the metronome isdiscarded and expressions are introduced.

Figure 15

Shown belowthe bar are the notes comprising the turn. The shortest is a sixty-fourth. Interms of the shortest note, the first one is two sixty-fourths, the triplettotals two

sixty-fourths, the dotted note is three sixty-fourths and the final note isone sixty-fourth, totaling eight sixty-fourths. Set the metronome to beatsixty-fourths and count as shown. When the rhythm is correctly played increasethe metronome speed; then change the metronome to beat one beat to athirty-second note, and so on, as previously described in this chapter.

Playing Three Notes Against Four

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At the piano, there are two procedures for playing three notes in the lefthand (bass clef) against four in the right hand (treble clef).

In the one procedure, the sense of dividing a time unit into three (andinto four) is cultivated as explained under "Acquiring the sense of timedivision". They are then played, one in each hand, first separately andthen together. This method is employed in the procedure later described for theChopin Fantasie Impromptu Op. 66.

In the other procedure, the time unit is divided into twelve parts, asshown below, the metronome is set to beat twelve heats to a measure, and thenotes are played on the beats indicated. [See figure 16]

Figure 16

In thisprocedure the relations between the beats of the two hands is the mostdominating thought. The hands begin together; next (after 3 intervals of time),the treble beats just a short interval (1 interval) before the bass. Two moreintervals introduce the treble, the center of the pattern, and two moreintroduce the bass. This is again followed by the short interval (1 interval)For the treble, and the longest interval (3 intervals), for the beginning ofthe next measure. These relations to each other are clearly illustrated infigure 16 and can be fixed in reference to each other by concentrating on thisrelationship (3-1-2-2-1-3) as the metronome beats, starting as slowly as isnecessary to comprehend them mentally.

A Specific Plan for Three Piano Compositions

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The following instructions For the study of three piano compositions willserve to illustrate the actual week-to-week procedure employed by Stella K.Nahum of New Haven in teaching piano students. Those who have had no previousmusical training are taught the rudiments of music and piano during the firstyear before using the metronome. The metronome is used by the studentsprincipally at home to control their practicing speed in the absence of theteacher. The tempo progressions indicated here are for the average student. Thetempo should be advanced depending upon the student's capacity.

S. Heller-Avalanche

The rhythmic pattern obtained by inspection are: Eighth Note Triplet,Quarter Note and Half Note. Count 1, 2, 3 (three counts) for a quarter note;that is, each one of the three notes of the triplet receives one metronomecount.

Practice first week Triplet Eighth Note=72 (Practice only at this one slowtempo during the first week)

Practice second week Triplet Eighth Note=72 to 92 (Each intermediate degreesuch as 76. 80, 84, and 88 must be practiced during this week)

Practice third week Triplet Eighth Note=92 to 138

Practice fourth week Triplet Eighth Note=138 to 168

Practice fifth week Quarter Note=63 (During this week the feeling of threenotes to each metronome count is realized. Practice at only one tempo thisweek)

Practice sixth week Quarter Note=72 to 92 Continue to finished or desiredtempo

Ph.. E. Bach Solfeggietto in C. Minor

The rhythmic pattern obtained by inspection are: Sixteenth Notes, QuarterNote, Half Note. Count 1 for a sixteenth note Count 2 for an eighth note Count4 for a quarter note

Practice first week Sixteenth Note=60 (Practice only at this one slow tempoduring the first week)

Practice second week Sixteenth Note=72 to 92 (Practice at each intermediatedegree)

Practice third week Sixteenth Note=92 to 152

Practice fourth week Eighth Note=72 (The new feeling of two sixteenths toeach metronome count is realized. Practice at only one tempo this week)

Practice fifth week Eighth Note=72 to 126

Practice sixth week Quarter Note=60

Practice seventh week Quarter Note=69 to finished tempo

One assignment may also consist of the following:

First practice Sixteenth Note=92, twice then practice Eighth Note=92, threetimes then practice Quarter Note=92, four times then practice Quarter Note=92to 132 finally practice Half Note=60

Chopin-Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. 66

First and third sections.

The rhythmic pattern obtained by inspection is: In Right Hand: SixteenthNotes In Left Hand: Eighth Note Triplets

Practice each hand alone and separately.

Set metronome at 60 to strike for one note in Right Hand or Left Hand.Continue to practice, progressively, with separate hands, until a tempo of 176has been attained. At present disregard the fact that later, when put together,the Right Hand will play more rapidly than the Left Hand.

Set metronome at Quarter Note=56. Now begin to acquire the feeling of fournotes to each beat when playing the Right Hand and the feeling of three notesto each heat when playing the Left Hand. Continue, with separate hands toQuarter Note=100.

Now put the Hands Together at Quarter Note=100. If the last step has beenthoroughly learned each hand will play its own notes smoothly. Increase speedto finished tempo and add nuances.

click here for a short video demonstration

click here to hear the piece - mp3 format

Drum Rudiments

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Strokes must be played fast enough to keep both sticks in motion at alltimes. Practicing too slowly results in errors. A good tempo for the majorityof students is approximately 120 strokes per minute. The sticks should beraised 10 to 12 inches high, and it is important that both the right and theleft strokes be the same.

When control at this tempo has been mastered the tempo should gradually heincreased. Set the metronome at 60 and play two strokes to each beat. Graduallyincrease the tempo to 240 strokes a minute (120 on metronome). The executionmust he even at all tempos before proceeding to the next. Then divide intogroups of three, five, seven and nine, alternating (Left and Right) and intofour, six and eight non-alternating.

Now add the rebound and double stroke rolls. Set the metronome at 132 andplay two single strokes per heat, or 304 single strokes per minute.

Sight Reading Chords

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In teaching chords to students, begin with a simple hymn, count four slowmetronome beats to each chord, and have the student name the chords. Graduallyincrease speed as recognition improves. Then go to more difficult pieces usingthe same technique.

Add A Part Records

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Playing enjoyably with Add-A-Part records will be facilitated if the tempoof the part is first measured (as described in Chapter 1), and if you firstlearn to play your part correctly at that tempo. If the record player isadjustable, be sure, when measuring the tempo, that the turntable speed iscorrect. This can be done by adjusting the speed until the keynote pitch agreeswith the piano.

Control of Vibrato

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A beautiful vibrato (not a tremolo, or trill), however produced, is todayconsidered to be an expression of emotion essential to excellent musicianshipin most string and wind instruments and in artistic singing. Consisting ofpulsations of pitch about the perceived tone, it has two elements. They are

(1) amplitude or extent (expressed as a fraction of a diatonic whole-step)and

(2) frequency or rate (expressed as number of cycles of pitch variation persecond). The metronome is used in learning to acquire control of the secondelement, the frequency.

In controlled artistic vibrato the frequency varies from about 4 to 10cycles per second. The lower values (say from 4 to 7) are found amonginstrumentalists; the higher values (from 5 to 10) are found among vocalists.Musicologists are agreed that an artistic vibrato must not be erraticallywavering, but must be of controlled uniformity. That is if a slow (or fast)vibrato is required, it should be slow (or fast) when so required.

Speaking generally, slow vibratos express tranquillity; fast vibratosexpress agitation. Following are some techniques employed in acquiring artisticvibratos:

Vocal Vibrato

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One successful technique employed at the University of Iowa in trainingsingers is (a) listening to the phonograph recordings of celebrated concert andoperatic singers, (b) learning, by listening, to recognize the presence orabsence of vibrato, its change in extent and rate, (c) learning to tap, or fan,with the hand at the same rate, (d) learning to tap, or fan, four beats to eachmetronome beat and (e) using the metronome as a standard measure of the rate.Thus, resetting the metronome changes the vibrato beats per second. On thisrhythm of 4's the following tabulation applies:

Metronome setting, beats per minuteCorrespondingvibrato cycles per second
 60  4
  76  5 (circa)
  92  6 (circa)
  104  7 (circa)
  120  8
  138 9 (circa)
 152 10 (circa)

Basis: Sing four vibrato cycles for each metronome beat. *

*Vibrato cycles per second=

(some of these settings are approximated to agree with the standardmetronome scale.)

Metronome setting (beats per minute) X 4 (vibrato cycles per beat
(divided by)_____________________________________________________
60 (seconds per minute)

or simply: BPM X 4 / 60

"Panting" exercises (voiceless pulsations) at vibrato frequenciesare used in preparation for the actual singing. This technique is used toproduce vibratos when they are non-existent, to increase the rate when it wastoo low, to decrease the rate when it was too high (that is, to complete therange), to train an increase and decrease of rare of vibrato on a singlesustained tone and to train in singing one vibrato to each note in rapidchromatic passages in preparation for the portamento.

Instrumental Vibrato

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The same procedure as that for vocal vibrato is used, except that for someinstruments (for example violoncello or trombone) relatively heavy masses (thehand or the hand plus the slide) must move at the vibrato rate. Consequentlythe "natural" rate is low and high rates are often erratic. It isgood training to start at a very low rate, often as low as one per second,while the instructor and the student analyze the motion of the fingers, thewrist, the arm, etc. When the motion is correct increase the rate slowly whilemaintaining the form.

Practice small and large amplitudes in the same manner, also increasingamplitudes and decreasing amplitudes tapering off to nothing. For otherinstruments or for other "methods~' or "schools" of teaching,the vibrato may be produced by the jaw, the lips, or the fingers but thetechnique of its acquisition and control by metronome is the same. Allamplitudes (or extent), from small to large. should be practiced at the lowrates before proceeding to the high rates of vibrato. Simultaneous decrease ofamplitude and rate should he practiced to develop tranquil endings.

Rigid Vibrato

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One technique for teaching saxophone vibrato for dancing is based upon arigid adherence to eight vibrato cycles per second. This invariable frequencycan become so implanted in the performer, with sufficient practice, that thevibrato of a saxophone ensemble trained by this method, sounds like that from asingle instrument. It possesses the additional characteristic that itsexponents can predetermine the time required for playing complete solos forradio programming.

This uniform vibrato rate of eight per second can be attained by settingthe metronome at 120 and counting flow vibrato cycles to each metronome beat,


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All successful memory training methods in any field of mental activityconsist essentially of three elements:

(1) vivid and comprehensive first impressions,

(2) association with known facts,

(3) repetition and recall.

These elements apply with great force in memorizing music when themetronome techniques just described are employed. With them, a musician's workis often subconsciously memorized, while he or she is unaware of any specificattempt at memorization. The three stages, in their application to memorizingmusic, are as follows:

(1) The first stage is being well met, while each note and its relation tothe others is analyzed as previously described and while the mind has time toconcentrate at low metronome speeds on the great number of details to watchsuch as fingering, pedaling, phrasing, positions or strings on which the notesare played, crescendos, slides, glissandos, and so on. The chances ofremembering well are much enhanced when this first stage of learning of musicalcompositions is done by the slow-start metronome techniques.

(2) Association of the above-named details with each other, and withsimilar details from one's experience, is possible during the period of slowmethodical metronome practice. Under such practice the mind has some time forreflecting on and establishing such associations. Thus the second requirementfor memory training is satisfied.

(3) Metronome techniques also fill the third requirement- that ofrepetition and recall-through the repetition at progressively higher tempos asskill is acquired.

Superficial and unmethodical thinking always leading to poor memorization,is supplanted through metronome techniques by concentrated, deliberate and wellordered mental processes, leading to facile memorizing.


A brief history of themetronome

Following are excerpts, suggestions, and hints abstracted from teachers'notes that have appeared in the past on the use of metronomes:

Mechanical Playing

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The saying that a too-constant employment of absolute time in study isproductive of mechanical playing is as ridiculous as it is ungrounded. I havenever known a person having either a natural or acquired positive sense of timeto have difficulty in executing the most delightfully regular retards andaccelerandos; on the other hand an artistic performance of these effects isalmost impossible in the hands of a deficient time-keeper.
Warner M. Hawkins, Etude, October, 1908

Leave the Time at Will

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To be an artist one must be able to play in perfect time- slow, fast, oranywhere between. Then one must be able to leave the time at will. This is notthe same as having the time leave the player, and that is the effect if one isnot able to play with the metronome.
M.L. Carr, Violin World, March, 1896

Faithful and Reliable Ally

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In short, it seems to me that the teacher who refuses to use the metronomerefuses a most faithful and reliable ally, and the teacher who does not knowits possibilities or who has never thought of applying them to teaching, woulddo well to begin at once to cultivate them as widely as possible.
M.L. Carr, Violin World, March, 1896

Temperamental Students

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Tempo is so dependent upon the mood of the moment that students, especiallythose of highly emotional nature, should practice technical exercises and partsof pieces daily with the metronome as a balance wheel to their temperamentalextravagances. After control is achieved, they may be taught to introduceintentional retards, accelerandos or rubatos.
M.L. Carr, Violin World, March, 1896

Do Not Watch the pendulum

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Depend upon the ear, not the eye. It is inconvenient and confusing to watchthe pendulum.
H. Hamilton, Etude, June, 1911

Avoid Immature Rapidity

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The metronome's virtue is to prevent too rapid playing before it is timefor such playing. Increase the speed notch by notch from slow to fast-thenrepeat. When under control, discard the metronome and put in a dash of colorand vitality required to give character to the work.
F. Lincoln, Etude, September, 1919


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Set the metronome at a slow tempo where you can play the piece from memoryand then gradually increase speed thus speeding up the process of thinking ofmusic as well as playing it.
Clara M. Nelms, Etude, November, 1923

A Rare Art

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No indeed, it is not unmusicianly to play in perfect time. It is an artthat is all too rare.
Ruth L. F. Barnett, Etude, October, 1924

Motion of Pendulum

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I found that by placing the objectionable machine on the floor at my feet,I am not distracted by the motion of the arm of the metronome and I'm nottempted to look at the instrument.
N. G. Abbott, Etude, October, 1924

(Most teachers of music recognize that the click and the wag of the MaelzelMetronome are not in step. The click comes neither at the ends nor at thecenter of the motion. When the pendulum moves toward the right the click occurssomewhere between the center and the right extreme of the motion, and when thependulum moves toward the left, the click occurs somewhere between rise centerand the left extreme of the motion. The clicks are not in the same place asrelated to the position of the pendulum. That is why it is confusing to look ator watch the Maelzel-type metronome and advisable only to listen to the heats.)

Pay Attention to the Beats

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However, the student must be careful to understand that keeping steady timemeans that each note of the exercise must coincide with each note of themetronome, and not simply to play on and on while the metronome keeps onticking, each at variance with each other. Such practice is valueless.
Eugene F. Marks, Etude, June, 1925

Monitor and Recorder

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Every student will find that the metronome is a most valuable monitor andrecorder of his progress.
Eugene F. Marks, Etude, June, 1925

Increase, then Decease, for Relaxation

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Increase metronome tempo notch by notch. When correct speed is attaineddecrease notch by notch (this relaxes muscles). Then increase again. Repeatuntil study is mastered.
Lorna H. Gibson, Etude, June. 1929

Playing Artistically

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The objection, sometimes heard, that using a metronome tends to make aplayer mechanical, is not founded on facts. Indeed, the students who play themost artistically are those who have been the most faithful in the use of theirmetronome when learning their pieces.
Josephine Menuez, Etude, April, 1932

For Confidence

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Practice the piece above the tempo at which you finally expect to playit.
W.F. Gates, Etude, November, 1939

Bowing Troubles

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Spiccato bowing troubles (on the violin) are often left-hand troubles. Bowgrand detache or legato (eight notes to a bow). Increase speed of left-handfingering. When the required speed has been achieved, only then add thespiccato bowing. Control speed with the metronome. Then being sure of lefthand, full attention may be given to the bowing.
H. D. Chapman, The Strad, August, 1943

Builder of Technique

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The metronome is one of the greatest technique builders available to theteacher or the pupil.
LeRoy V. Brant, Etude, February, 1944

Introducing Nuances

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Of course, everyone knows that after a piece has been thoroughly tested andstabilized with the metronome, the necessary rhythmic variations, theaccelerandos, the ritardandos, the ad libs, the tempo rubatos may be introducedfar more intelligently and artistically.
James Francis Cooke, Etude, April, 1940

Discovering Technical Flaws

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One can, on the other hand, quickly discover the flaws in one's technique,and the particular groups of notes which need the most practice, by attemptingtechnical passages with the metronome set at a quick tempo. Encircle with apencil the rough spots and those on which you stumble. Then work up graduallyas described above.
Unpublished paper of Floyd E. Low, Hibbing, Minn.

Tenseness and Relaxation

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Another very effective way to achieve results is to begin at a tempo of 60,with 3 or 4 notes to the beat, and work gradually slower to a tempo of 40. Thenmove the metronome to a tempo of 80 and work back to 60. Then jump to 92 andwork back to 80. Continue this procedure until the desired tempo can be playedwith a feeling of relaxation The feeling of reducing one's tempo is conduciveto relaxation whereas the feeling of increasing one's tempo is sometimesconducive to "tightening up."
Unpublished paper of Floyd E. Low, Hibbing, Minn.

Bowing Techniques

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For practice of sustained uniform bowing, set the metronome at 60 and drawa sustained tone with the bow for as many seconds as desired. This is much moresystematic and accurate than merely "counting" to the requirednumber, To develop a spiccato bow, set the metronome at the required speed andplay 1, 2, 3 or 4 notes to each tick with the least possible amount of bow.
Unpublished paper of Floyd E. Low, Hibbing, Minn.

Recording Progress

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The wind instrument player can use the same counting procedure forpracticing sustained tones. He can thus keep exact records of his progress. Forstaccato or tonguing practice, the metronome can again constantly keep himinformed of his progress and ability.
Unpublished paper of Floyd E. Low, Hibbing, Minn.

Memorizing Tempos

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The conductor should be so familiar with metronome indications that heknows exactly how fast a speed of 60, 92, 120, etc., is. Since andante, allegroand other adjectives are relative terms and cover a considerable variance intempos, the young conductor in his study of the work should consult themetronome, practice with it as the authority until he has thoroughlyestablished in his beat the various rates of movement needed. If he cannot atany time establish within very slight deviation any metronome tempo indicated,he needs further practice. It is time well spent for any young conductor topractice many varieties of beats in many different tempos and then test hisaccuracy with the metronome. Few compositions, other than the military march,move with exact clock-wise regularity. In all good editions, tempo variationsor alterations usually are carefully indicated and should he considered alwaysas adjustments of the basic tempo and not as changes.
Carol M. Pitts, Etude, 1944

Analysis and Slow Practice

To attain and maintain violinistic surety, I recommend slow practicing. Ibelieve in taking the music apart note

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for note, correcting as one proceeds and keeping the ear alert to the actualsound of one's own playing.
Mischsa Elman, Etude, 1945

Violin Practicing

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For example, in practicing the violin composition Danse Espagnole, thefirst review without the music takes between 7 and 10 minutes. The secondreview should always be done with the music to find memory errors before theyappear; and with the metronome to prevent rhythm from getting a chance tobecome distorted; and without vibrato. By dropping the metronome beat back to80 for each eighth note beat (Danse Espagnole is written in 3/8), a comfortableslow playing tempo is achieved. Danse Espagnole is particularly tricky for thebow, therefore, in this case, special and continuous thought will go into itsevery movement.

The object of the second review is-perfection. This includes perfectintonation, rhythm, relaxation, and bow control. Not an unnecessary muscularripple nor an unwritten sound should be allowed; there should be only one truenote going to the next one accurately and rhythmically.

To achieve this is no easy task. It does not mean dropping the tempo andallowing the mind to wander, while fingers perform automatic, and often sloppy,actions. It does mean intense and listening concentration.
Kate Merril Wells, Etude, 1945

Too Fast a Rubato

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Too free a rubato may be helped by going to the other extreme and playingeven a Chopin nocturne once with the metronome, as I have heard HeinrichGebhard illustrate so successfully. Too strict a tempos Yes, but afterward apupil emerges "keeping shape" and if musical, also with the give andtake which his imagination dictates, without overdoing the rubato. Harold Baueronce said that the most impressive performance of "Lohengrin" he everheard was the time the Boston Symphony played it for rehearsal from beginningto end with the metronome.
Viva Fay Richardson, Etude, 1945

Analysis and Slow Practice

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To learn to play fairly fast is a matter of practicing. Every exercise,providing it is done thoroughly, methodically, and for a long enough time, will"get the pupil" there. But the result will be full of holes,musically speaking, unless it was born of slow playing, for only in slow motioncan technical and musical problems be thoroughly analyzed. Just as we see everyposition in a running jump or a high dive on a slow motion film, so we canbuild, from this same slow motion, every jump or run on the piano.
Victor I. Seroff, Etude, 1947

Psychology of Memorizing

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In my entire career of 33 years with the Etude I have enthusiasticallyendorsed the use of the metronome. You see, in addition to being a musician Ihad training as a psychologist and I know the value of creating what might becalled brain tracts or nerve tracts through kinesthetic action by means ofaccurate multiple repetitions. I know that Czerny, Liszt and almost everyreally great teacher of the past, has endorsed this process. With my own pupilsin performances and in memorizing I used a plan that Czerny used, Liszt usedand Leschetizky used. They required 8 or 16 correct repetitions of an exercisebefore proceeding to the next metronomic speed and were expected to go on untila speed in advance of the performance speed was achieved. Then and only then,after they had learned to draw a perfect circle, they were permitted to makecertain changes which brought about expression. At this point I had them getChristiani's Principles of Expression and work out their own conception ofexpression according to their original ideas, always giving them counsel.
James Francis Cooke, Private Correspondence, 1940

Teaching Vibrato

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Understand, teaching vibrato with the metronome is merely on the scienceside of musical instruction-the artistic element is arrived at later. Thisprocedure is a boon to the speeding up process of present day instruction.
Max Adkins, Private Correspondence, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Tempos for Practicing at Home

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In this modern age of pedagogy when the best type of teaching isnecessarily direct and definite, some form of exact tempo must necessarily begiven to the student for correct practicing at home.
Stella K. Nahum, Private Correspondence, New Haven, Conn.

Basic Sense of Time

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I'm very much in favor of the liberal use of metronomes by students ofmusic in order to put their sense of rhythm on a solid basis, not so much withthe idea of their holding to a metronomic rhythm in performance, as to givingthem a basic sense of time from which they may depart if they so choose. Forexample, It is important for all musicians to be able at least to maintain anexact rhythm. Most musicians, it seems to me, are deficient in this respect. Itis my belief that this deficiency may be corrected to some extent if it issubjected to the corrective influence of a good metronome.
Dean Emeritus, David Stanley Smith, School of Music,
Yale University, Private Correspondence

Overdoing Nuances

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In view of all these tendencies (the deplorable result of overdoing allnuances) nothing seems to be more important for the student than to (first)learn to play without expression. Only the pianist who has learned to playBach's Chromatic Fantasie or Beethoven's Appasionata in the most rigid way willbe able to add that amount of nuances and shades which these works properlyrequire.
Willi Apel, Harvard Dictionary of Music, Expression

Harmonic Dictation

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We use the metronome in the setting of minimum tempos for keyboard drillsin harmonic dictation. Playing dictation drills at a strict tempo has been adecided factor in increasing keyboard facility of our theory students.
Glen W. King, Western Reserve Academy,
Private Correspondence, 1947


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In general, the metronome's office in the musician's sphere is to keep thetime consciously moving forward at an even rate while the mind, muscles andpsychological reflexes have an opportunity consciously to adapt their functionsto this uniform passage of time. The tempo is slow during the first stages. Ifdifficulties arise, due to mental, muscular or psychological characteristics,that would otherwise take additional time to overcome or to conquer. the beatof the metronome is the unfailing pedagogue to point out the aberration. Duringrepetition of the attempt and final conquest of the difficulty, correct habitsare formed and the subconscious mind gradually takes over control atincreasingly rapid tempo. When the deliberate nuances are introduced, theresult is a smooth artistic performance free of blur and fuzziness


In addition to those specifically mentioned in the text, we are indebted tothe following musicians, music educators, musicologists and publications forvarious information contained in this book:

Complicated Rhythms, Examples of piano technique, Stella K. Nahum,New Haven, Conn.
Counting Wheels, Effa Ellis Perfield, New York, N.Y.
Drums, Robert W. Buggert, Philadelphia, Pa. Harvard Dictionary of Music,WiIli Apel, Cambridge, Mass
Ritards and Accelerandos, Mildred Perry Ek, Portland, Ore. RhythmicPatterns, Floyd E. Low, Hibbing, Minn.
Roller Skating Music, Maurice Grudin, Paterson, NJ.
Saxophone Vibrato, Milt Werner, New York, N.Y.
Spotting Chords, Marie Matthews, Phdadelphia, Pa.
Tempo Memory, P. L. Schneider, East Cleveland, Ohio
The Etude, James Francis Cooke, Editor, Philadelphia, Pa.
The Etude Music Magazine, Philadelphia, Pa.
The Vibrato, Carl F. Seashore, Arnold H. Wagner, University of Iowa,Iowa City, Iowa
Vibrato, Max Adkins, Pittsburgh, Pa

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On behalf of Franz Manufacturing Company, we hope you found this informationuseful.

- Jon Truelson