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Do you count every time you play? (Read 2157 times)

Offline bernadette60614

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Do you count every time you play?
« on: July 09, 2018, 09:05:41 PM »
I must admit that I loathe counting.

My new teacher has advised me to count each time I play, whether it is from the beginning or during a performance.

I'll do what I have to do, but I'm wondering at what point you before less self-conscious about counting.

Thank you everyone, hope everyone is having a lovely summer.

Offline mjames

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #1 on: July 09, 2018, 09:19:09 PM »
[INTERNAL METRONOME]

Only count when I'm practicing a new piece, all the time no exceptions. I pretty much stop when I'm "done" with the piece, so I don't count during performances or anything of the sort.

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #2 on: July 09, 2018, 09:29:56 PM »
Bernadette - well, as you set your mind on this, you're noticing how 'loathe' it..  It is always hardest at first, like you are growing a new limb.. Something else, to be ever mindful of, while considering everything else on the page.  The continuous mouthing of the counts, is like starting a motor, which soon becomes automatic if you are diligent... You won't have to 'think' of counting any longer when the rhythms presented are immediately heard in your mind, and felt in your body, and fingers.  Just keep doing it, and you will prevail..Loathe will change to annoying, to a trifle, and then - as the music easily aligns, you'll be grateful for it's assistance.. (Kinda reminds me of an old school boxing method to keep balance-  where the ankles are tied together with string, with a 24 inch leash.  
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Online outin

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 03:12:20 AM »
You should not loath it, counting is your friend that helps you maintain and learn the correct pulse. Sometimes it also helps to concentrate in the beginning of the piece. I think one reason why people hate counting is that they have been forced to count aloud at lessons. But you can as well count in your head.

What makes counting even more fun is singing the numbers in your head with the melody of the piece. Try it :)

Offline progman

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #4 on: July 10, 2018, 12:16:19 PM »
Hi Bernadette, Just for comparison, here's how it went for me. I just had my 4th lesson, and as my teacher says - in a nice way - if you don't have rhythm you don't have anything. I expressed to her early on my difficultly with counting while playing - she encouraged this activity at the first lesson. While I ignored that, and struggled to try it here and there - I spent one week using the metronome with all my exercises. There was a noticeable improvement - and that actually got me over the hump on counting. I guess while I used the metronome that helped my internal clock a bit perhaps and made counting not as hard. So the next week i did not use the metronome at all and just counted for every exercise. I also got the 'Basic Timing for the Pianist' by Allan Small which is a bunch of exercises to help - this also helps with sight reading. I do seem to have a speed limit for counting, more than about 80 or 90 BPM it seems to be harder, but I expect I will get better. 
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #5 on: July 10, 2018, 03:12:58 PM »
Bernadette, I have learned to make counting part of my practising but not all the time in all stages - and not as the only thing.

- The first thing is actually note value and relative note value, like when there is a tricky section, and you want the LH to line up with the RH; or if there are 4 beats, and you want to make sure that you end up with 4 beats when you're done that measure.  ;)  Some of my early difficulties were due to my guess-timating some of the timing.  So I work those out.  Here counting can come in.  I've also learned that, say for 16th notes; I can go "1 and a, 2 and a" but but I can also turn that into "1-2-3-4" and other subdivisions, because notes are proportional.  If you don't understand your note values in places, then playing with counting will feel like pulling teeth.  It is not as obvious as it seems.

- I can go through a stage when first learning notes and working on small sections where I do not yet try for pulse and counts.  While I'm getting a handle on fingering, leaps, unusual notes, I've learned the principle "Know where you're going before you go there."  i.e. we can be vaguely moving toward an iffy note and trying to decide which finger and which note while in mid-motion.  It creates tension, jerkiness, strain, and distraction. So in that case I may pause motionless, gather myself, picture where I'm going, and then move.  This is NOT "in time".

- When these first stages are necessary, then counting is a thing that comes as a 2nd or 3rd step.  I will often do this in sections before combining them; slowly enough before ever speeding up.  I don't usually use a metronome.

I just finished working with something that was tricky for me.  I recorded it, then put it on slow playback, say 50% tempo, and counted along to see where my playing might come in early or late.  My ears are not nearly as "fast" or accurate as my teacher's.  Actually hearing my own counts through the playback was a new skill for me.  It sharpened my hearing overall.

On the last point: At times my teacher has had me listen to recordings of performers, including to hear their choices of rubato or other subtle timing: and I couldn't hear it.  Even if he clapped along, chances are that I'd miss it.  Again, if I slowed a recording to 50% or less, I might be able to hear some of it.  But this is getting better.

Finally: I don't always count, but counting is part of the stages.  Since I do this, I can also jump into counting on the fly when needed.  These days I find it helps steady me.

I would not want to just keep counting while playing through a whole piece, and always.  I would turn into some kind of "automation" making me mindless, and making the numbers become meaningless.  Also, if a skill is new, your brain gets tired fast. 5 minutes .... then a break doing something else ..... another mindful 5 minutes ..... that may be what you can handle at first; then increase it.

Also - you can count while saying "da da dada" looking at the music without playing: clapping the pulse.  Mix 'n match.

Offline brogers70

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #6 on: July 10, 2018, 10:43:02 PM »
If counting while you play is a nuisance maybe it would help to separate the counting from learning all the mechanics of playing a piece. You could try just counting and tapping out the rhythm without worrying about playing it on the piano. Then maybe by the time you go back to the piano the rhythm will be automatic enough that you don't need to count. I've done that with polyrhythmns and it seemed to help.

Offline ted

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #7 on: July 11, 2018, 11:25:54 AM »
I never count and cannot remember ever having done so, neither have I ever used a metronome. I have tried these things, of course, but counting seems to interfere with my internal sense of rhythm. Rhythm is a very deep sensation, it seems to me, of which pulse is a tiny, simple and rather uninteresting subset. It is a very hard thing to explain to someone who does not already feel it, and stated baldly it sounds silly, but really vital rhythm demands imprecision. I always felt that counting and metronomes might destroy the internal power of the rhythms underlying the types of music I love to play and create, so I therefore eschew their use.

Well, the question does ask in regard to me, not about general rules concerning all players. Thousands will disagree with me I know.
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Offline j_tour

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #8 on: November 01, 2018, 12:24:34 PM »
Yeah, but it's subconscious.  I'd be confused if I had to count out loud "one-ee-and-a-two-ee..." etc.

I use a pocket metronome when away from home and just practice subdividing.  Or, forgo the metronome (since it tends to annoy people who can hear it).
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #9 on: November 02, 2018, 01:42:41 AM »
If Ms bernadette is listening at this late date:
I count in the beginning when I am playing a new piece at 1/16 of the desired performance speed.  Or whatever speed it takes to play everything perfectly every time.  If I make a mistake, I slow down.  My teacher took as her task in the weekly lesson, pointing out the mistakes I hadn't noticed myself.  Those got circled in pencil the first time, red pencil if I repeated the mistake in a later lesson.  
Once I start speeding a piece up, because I had been playing the rhythm so perfectly, I don't have to count anymore.  But it took 7 or 14 or 21 repetitions to get the piece perfect at the stupidly slow speed.  
This was my teacher's method.  It wouldn't get me through Juliard I suppose, they go too fast.  But it gets master's level repretoire in my hands, only I take years instead of days to learn a hard piece.  
I'm blessed with a smooth internal clock so I don't gradually speed up or slow down as some fellow musicians I have listened to.  This does lead to everything being about mm 120 as that's how I like things. I have to conciously think about speeding up and slowing down for emotion at the end of learning a piece.  Great interpreters of Chopin or other romantics drive me crazy with their unsteady rhythm.  But they get paid more per concert than I do, which is nothing. 
If one doesn't have a steady internal clock, I would say start the counting when walking or riding a bicycle.  A steady pace is required in those exercises, and everybody's brain is made to walk for miles and miles and run down deer or other game.  So that steady clock is in there, it is part of being human.  You just have to find the walking rhythm circuit and connect it to your music.   

Offline keypeg

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #10 on: November 02, 2018, 02:49:16 AM »
A quick one about counting.  Somebody shared this with me the other day.  Watch Martha Argerich at 14:49 - watch her lips go "one two ...."  
Even the greats still count! :D

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Offline dogperson

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #11 on: November 02, 2018, 07:58:25 AM »
A quick one about counting.  Somebody shared this with me the other day.  Watch Martha Argerich at 14:49 - watch her lips go "one two ...."  
Even the greats still count! :D

=880


Yes, but Ms Argerich is counting only this one time, for a precise synchronization with the orchestra.  The OPs teacher has stated she should count even during a performance, which I don’t see as what is happening here because it is so limited in duration and purpose

Offline stillnimble

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #12 on: November 02, 2018, 11:49:31 AM »
When learning a new piece especially if it is a tricky rhythm to negotiate it is essential  to count.
Counting aloud helps but after repeated practicing of the section you can feel the rhythm  and counting can interfere with the concentration

Offline j_tour

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #13 on: November 04, 2018, 03:40:56 PM »
I count in the beginning when I am playing a new piece at 1/16 of the desired performance speed.  Or whatever speed it takes to play everything perfectly every time

+1.

It's the only way I can play through pieces I don't know well -- it works splendidly for Bach, IME, as well as the Debussy of the Préludes.

It's also IME a great mental exercise.

It's exhausting mentally to play at a VERY slow tempo, but at least it's correct.  Very mentally tiring, but I suspect it has its own rewards in building up one's internal "clock" and working at subdividing.

It may not sound musical, but I have to believe it's a good practice — plus, you can work out ad hoc different fingering options at a slow speed or examine technical problems.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #14 on: November 06, 2018, 08:33:54 AM »
Someone who asks you to count for an entire piece is crazy imho. It should be use for small parts to ensure you are doing it correctly during your practice routines or in parts which are challenging to time (like long rests). I don't get musicians who visibly count while performing it looks insecure to me, I'd be more concerned with the expression rather than the mechanical counting!
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Offline compline

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #15 on: March 07, 2019, 08:45:12 AM »
It helps me to clap out the rhythm  before playing it.
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Offline ted

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #16 on: March 07, 2019, 09:25:12 PM »
I virtually never count these days. The only situation I can think of where I might count is if there were two or more simultaneous rhythmic streams with notes off the metre, and where imprecision would lose musical effect. One or two mild examples of this exist in the Rhapsody In Blue. But I would only count for the first few tries; after that I would feel the rhythm as a whole and remember it.
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Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #17 on: March 08, 2019, 03:28:45 AM »
I only count if I have trouble feeling it.

If you can feel it don’t bother with counting cause you’re supposed to feel the music not math it out.
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Offline edwincurrent

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #18 on: February 05, 2020, 06:08:58 AM »
I don't use a numbered count. I do keep a mental tick in my head kind of like an time signature aware internal metronome. If you have a good understanding of tempo and time signatures, you don't need to use numbered count. But if you are struggling with timing, then numbered count is the tried and true method.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Do you count every time you play?
«Reply #19 on: February 05, 2020, 06:43:31 AM »
I seldom count when I play. The only time I really count is when I feel like I'm not able to feel the pulse. Whenever I count, it usually precedes when I play, like a "count-in". For example, I'll count 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 once or twice at the tempo I want to play, and then my internal sense of rhythm automatically takes over.

I might still be stomping my foot, or imagining something like rum-pum-pum or whatever, but I won't be consciously counting. I feel that there is much more to rhythm than just counting, and unless you are really struggling with timing issues, it's more productive to try and feel the rhythm. What are the strong beats? What are the weak beats? Which beats are especially emphasized? What kind of feeling does it produce in you: is it galloping, hurried, relaxed, driving, etc.? I think that "real" rhythm comes about due to minute variations from straight metronomic playing. That is why people started introducing slight inaccuracies into drum tracks, because playing it really exact sounded robotic and boring.

I may be getting slightly off topic here... basically I think counting while playing is like holding a baby's hand before it can walk. Once it can, it's better to let it do it's own thing.