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Rather odd habit of one of my students... (Read 1498 times)

Offline perfect_pitch

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Rather odd habit of one of my students...
« on: October 05, 2016, 07:27:36 AM »
I'm curious to see if anyone else has had this problem... One of my older adult student has been learning from me for a while, and he has a habit of almost verbally mumbling, or mouthing rhythms as he plays. The problem is that I feel that his counting of the rhythm is a little off and this starts to affect his playing.

I've even caught him mumbling the breaking down of beats into like '1 e & a' in phrases that only use quavers and possibly crotchets, and I feel he is over working the rhythm. I'm trying to just get him to use and trust his ears when playing steady rhythms instead of trying to over calculate everything.

I've also tried getting him to suck on lollies and he plays, to play with his mouth closed, but even when he plays with his mouth closed, he's humming everything.

Anyone else had this problem??? His playing is so associated with the calculation of beats, I feel he is not able to relax as much as possible and just get absorbed by the sound he makes.

Offline reiyza

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Re: Rather odd habit of one of my students...
«Reply #1 on: October 05, 2016, 03:01:53 PM »
What piece is he playing.. Just curious. I saw an instructional video on the pathetique first by joshwright at youtube. And he counts the same way as that for the intro..


Just saying. :)
Yup.. still a beginner. Up til now..

When will a teacher accept me? :/

Offline quantum

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Re: Rather odd habit of one of my students...
«Reply #2 on: October 05, 2016, 04:52:50 PM »
I would actually try to work with the habit rather than do away with it.  Many students have sloppy rhythm because they are lazy to subdivide.  Work with him in gaining acuity of the subdivisions.  A solid understanding of how to work with subdivisions and micro-pulses in music can lead to better development of beat flexibility, purposeful applications of rubato, and heightened command of expression. 

It is not the notes, but what we do in between the notes that generates effective music making.  You have a student that seems to possess a sense of this.  Help him develop the skill so it assists his music making, but in a way that mannerisms do not get in the way of music making. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline anamnesis

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Re: Rather odd habit of one of my students...
«Reply #3 on: October 05, 2016, 05:29:59 PM »
I would actually try to work with the habit rather than do away with it.  Many students have sloppy rhythm because they are lazy to subdivide.  Work with him in gaining acuity of the subdivisions.  A solid understanding of how to work with subdivisions and micro-pulses in music can lead to better development of beat flexibility, purposeful applications of rubato, and heightened command of expression. 

It is not the notes, but what we do in between the notes that generates effective music making.  You have a student that seems to possess a sense of this.  Help him develop the skill so it assists his music making, but in a way that mannerisms do not get in the way of music making. 

But are vocalizations always the best way to realize this for individual students?  What happens in between notes is physical action and continuity of motion. Some sort of vocalization can be a surrogate for this, but as surrogate, one has to correctly establish its connection with what actually has to be sensed and happens. 

Moreover, anyone who has any sort of vocal training realizes how various rhythmic errors can be made at various points of the sound production cycle.  A piano teacher many not actually be aware how to identify this, nor how to correct it. 

Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Rather odd habit of one of my students...
«Reply #4 on: October 05, 2016, 11:34:09 PM »
Okay, he's playing a few pieces.

Bartok - Mikrokosmos #75 (Sometimes crushes last triplet notes, and sometimes plays even quavers slightly swung)
Mozart - Sonata in A, K331 - Theme and Var 1 only (Var semiquavers are almost steady, except for rare moments when co-ordination is hard and the trill trips him up)
Bach - Prelude in c minor (broken chord prelude. Has slightly stiffness in LH when notes get quite far apart in bass, trying to work on it. RH is almost perfectly steady with semiquavers)
Schumann - Wild Horseman (no problem with steady quavers, hands are a little tense but not too bad)
Tchaikovsky - Morning Prayer (Dotted quaver and semiquaver patters are a little swing like, and not quite perfectly in time)

@quantum... Problem is, one he was doing a piece with crotchets and he was counting the quaver beats, however it wasn't:

1   +   2   +   3   +   

it was more like:

1+      2+       3+

I've been using an app 'ReadRhythm' on the iPad to really help him try and feel and at least tap the rhythm to get a sense of evenness. I've been trying to focus on specific rhythms - making sure quavers are very even, then quaver-crotchet combos (syncopation), dotted quaver-semiquavers to make sure they're very tight and rhythmically secure.

The problem is - the mannerism is SO linked in with what he plays and he's done this for years, even before I taught him... so trying to undo it, is the problem I'm having... HOW does one try and ensure the mannerism does not distract from the playing?

@anamnesis... Interesting point, but I believe that just simple verbalisation can help. Have a student who is having trouble with syncopated rhythms? I get them to say the rhythm names for a while, tap it and say it, then get back to playing without saying, if they're confident. It helps with their understanding of the rhythm of the passage.

Offline anamnesis

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Re: Rather odd habit of one of my students...
«Reply #5 on: October 06, 2016, 03:28:20 AM »
Okay, he's playing a few pieces.

Bartok - Mikrokosmos #75 (Sometimes crushes last triplet notes, and sometimes plays even quavers slightly swung)
Mozart - Sonata in A, K331 - Theme and Var 1 only (Var semiquavers are almost steady, except for rare moments when co-ordination is hard and the trill trips him up)
Bach - Prelude in c minor (broken chord prelude. Has slightly stiffness in LH when notes get quite far apart in bass, trying to work on it. RH is almost perfectly steady with semiquavers)
Schumann - Wild Horseman (no problem with steady quavers, hands are a little tense but not too bad)
Tchaikovsky - Morning Prayer (Dotted quaver and semiquaver patters are a little swing like, and not quite perfectly in time)

@quantum... Problem is, one he was doing a piece with crotchets and he was counting the quaver beats, however it wasn't:

1   +   2   +   3   +   

it was more like:

1+      2+       3+

I've been using an app 'ReadRhythm' on the iPad to really help him try and feel and at least tap the rhythm to get a sense of evenness. I've been trying to focus on specific rhythms - making sure quavers are very even, then quaver-crotchet combos (syncopation), dotted quaver-semiquavers to make sure they're very tight and rhythmically secure.

The problem is - the mannerism is SO linked in with what he plays and he's done this for years, even before I taught him... so trying to undo it, is the problem I'm having... HOW does one try and ensure the mannerism does not distract from the playing?

@anamnesis... Interesting point, but I believe that just simple verbalisation can help. Have a student who is having trouble with syncopated rhythms? I get them to say the rhythm names for a while, tap it and say it, then get back to playing without saying, if they're confident. It helps with their understanding of the rhythm of the passage.

Instead of tapping try conducting, which requires actually physically subdividing continuously in space and relating things toward rather than backwards.  Just based on your write-up, your student is relating the upbeat notes to the preceding note rather than forward, which is what is distorting the rhythm. 


Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Rather odd habit of one of my students...
«Reply #6 on: October 06, 2016, 05:00:45 AM »
Just based on your write-up, your student is relating the upbeat notes to the preceding note rather than forward, which is what is distorting the rhythm. 

That's rather interesting... thanks for the tip, something to think about.