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Beginner How do you keep Good Timing when reading?

BeBopSop

Member
Messages
274
Hi all, i have always strugled with this, usualy ending notes too shor (short)
tapping foot is just something else to do
counting in head puts me off the reading
moving the sax affects the sound
any help please
thanks
john
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,943
The challenge here is developing a feeling for the pulse in the music. Have you tried a metronome?

The modern electronic ones usually have the option for a click/beep or a flashing light. That would remove the strain of trying to tap foot / twitch knee or whatever, and read music, and play all at the same time.

Given how loud saxes are, you may want to check that the beep is loud enough.

What you describe is a common problem: cutting short longer notes and rushing shorter ones (for a classic problem compare three triplet quavers versus 4 semi-quavers - the triplets should have that lazy feel about them, the semis are quicker but shouldn't be a scramble).

Another tack is to play with other people - nothing like playing in a group to sort out counting/timing issues
 

Gandalfe

Member
Messages
107
I have found that practicing sight reading with an instructor or friend is extremely helpful. It might take years to develop good internal pulse, but it is worth it to me. The use of a metronome is key too. Start slow and work the piece up to speed. 99% of musicians I know hate the metronome, but it does help.

When you are walking, run rhythms through your head. Eighths against triplets for example with each step being a beat of a measure, 1 and 2 and 3 and a 4 and a. Then build in complexity. This can be especially helpful with normalizing off beats and grace notes/gliss' in your head.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
good tips from Gandalfe! I always walk on time.

About metronome, there are two approaches:
1- The metronome leads: loud, downbeats marked, you can even program it. But you could end up thick as a bad drummer
2- The metronome plays with you: it only marks 2 and 4 and at some point (you must be very good) it will start swinging.

Good news: you don't need a saxophone to develop this. You can practice while driving, swimming, being in a tube, listening to good music. NOT while having sex.

I hope it helps
 

BeBopSop

Member
Messages
274
I wonder if it is possible to just count notes on and over 2 beats, and judge the single (and under) beats?
I do have a metronome, but I have a job to hear it over the sax, A drum beat recorded would be good!
I think 'internal pulse' is what I need!
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
I think 'internal pulse' is what I need!
Definitely beat on 2 and 4.
Start with |[:GABCDCBA:]| in quavers. You don't have to "sit" on a loud metronome. the 2 and 4 are only there to confirm that you are in the right place.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Some electronic metronomes have an actual earpiece which can be close to an inner pulse. You could try just fingering the notes when you are focussing on timing or just count (in your head, or quietly or loudly) to the music without the sax.

I think that it is important to strike a balance between the "science" of counting beats etc. and the "art" of listening to the tune. Once you have "got" a tune you've probably nailed it. With some of the tunes that I really know I can just improvise at will and always
seem to know my place in the music without much conscious thought - which is then "beyond" counting - more what people describe as "feel".

The other gadget I find really helpful is my cheap Yamaha Keyboard which has a built in drum machine and metronome with quite a range of beats. I often use it to get a sense of various rhythms and timing and just improvise using any old scale, without having to follow any actual tune.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
All good advice. Walking rhythms is great. Getting the pulse or feel is important so slowing it down and really understanding note lengths is essential. You could get the ABRSM workbook Improve Your Sight Reading, starting with grades 1- 3. There are graded exercises for playing and clapping/saying note lengths and rhythms. I know it sounds cheesy but if you are not sure, clapping/saying really does help get the basics anchored. It covers minims, crotchets, quavers, (sorry, half notes, quarter notes notes, eighth notes for USA friends), dotted notes, tied notes, different time sigs. Then you can move on to the higher levels.
YC
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,943
All good advice. Walking rhythms is great. Getting the pulse or feel is important so slowing it down and really understanding note lengths is essential. You could get the ABRSM workbook Improve Your Sight Reading, starting with grades 1- 3. There are graded exercises for playing and clapping/saying note lengths and rhythms. I know it sounds cheesy but if you are not sure, clapping/saying really does help get the basics anchored. It covers minims, crotchets, quavers, (sorry, half notes, quarter notes notes, eighth notes for USA friends), dotted notes, tied notes, different time sigs. Then you can move on to the higher levels.
YC
Speaking/clapping rhythms - ain't no shame there! :w00t: Sometimes in choir with complex music (e.g. Bernstein's Chichester Psalms - here ) you need to sort out the rhythm before you start worrying about notes or words ;}
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,281
John
Theres good news and bad news
First the bad: Keeping time whilst playing and reading is one of the hardest things a beginner has to do.
Now the good news: it gets better the more you do it,practise,practise and more practise,slow things down so that you get it right then speed the tempo up later,listen to lots of music and try and count whilst listening,don't expect immediate results but it does get better,also have you got a teacher?if not consider finding one its worth it in the long run.

After a while your reading and keeping time gets better and you develop a internal metronome but it takes time [forgive the pun]

Brian
 
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Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
When you are walking, run rhythms through your head. Eighths against triplets for example with each step being a beat of a measure, 1 and 2 and 3 and a 4 and a. Then build in complexity. This can be especially helpful with normalizing off beats and grace notes/gliss' in your head.
Thanks for the walking idea Gandalfe, I just used that method today to help me work out a drumming groove that I've been having trouble with and I'm finding that method to be very helpful.

@ BeBopSop.

If you need a louder metronome and you have your computer handy to your practice session you might want to try using a click track in Audacity. Depending on the sound system of your computer you could potentially get that click track to sound quite loud. I use the Audacity Click Track all the time for drumming.

As far as playing to drum beats, you might also keep an eye out for used electronic keyboard. Even a really cheap one often comes with quite a few basic drum beats that you can set to whatever tempo you need. I have a Yamaha Keyboard that I use as a "Drum Machine" for backing. Sometime I'd rather play to a groove than to a metronome.

~~~

By the way, if you use the Audacity Click Track, go even further and start recording yourself. Then you can actually look to visually see how you are lining up with the clicks. That visual aid helped me quite a bit when I was first having problems with metronomes. You can actually SEE where you are getting off the beat. Sometimes it can be difficult to actually hear precisely what you are doing wrong. At least this visual approach worked for me. Once I could actually "see" my mistakes, I had a better feel for how to get things lined up better.
 
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