All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
Tutorials

Beginner I can't count

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
25,903
and for an accountant that is not good:(

I am really struggling playing and counting the notes. I can play with the metronome but as soon as I try and count in my head everything falls apart, I either play the wrong note, squeak, tongue when I shouldn't the list goes on.

I usually cope very well with multitasking

Am fine if it is all crotchets:)

Please tell me this will come in time :(

Jx
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,950
If you're trying to count whilst playing anything other than long notes or substantial rests then I'm not surprised you're having trouble.

What is it you're actually trying to do, and why?
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
25,903
If you're trying to count whilst playing anything other than long notes or substantial rests then I'm not surprised you're having trouble.

What is it you're actually trying to do, and why?
I am working through Peter Wastall learn as you play saxophone but am struggling to get the length of notes right.

Jx
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,950
Oh, right. Normal then. Playing with a metronome's pretty impressive though. Most of my students ignore it. If you're struggling to get them right then I must presume you are aware that you're getting them wrong. Well, that's half the battle then.

I haven't looked at Mr Wastall's ancient tome recently but I seem to recall there are rhythm exercises in there. How do you do with those?
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
25,903
I haven't looked at Mr Wastall's ancient tome recently but I seem to recall there are rhythm exercises in there. How do you do with those?
Some of the short peices I can do, I am only up to unit 4 am trying Mexican Madness at the moment which has ties and slurs and it is driving me mad. Did manage to play through once with the metronome at 60 but as it is supposed to be lively it could be a long night.:)
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,950
First, stop worrying about slurs. Ignore them. Tongue everything. That should remove some of the clutter in your brain. It's not important at this stage - you can come back to it later. Getting the rhythm right is far more important. If the ties are bothering you too then ignore them too for now.

Can you play it now? Don't worry if it's slow. I don't think I ever had anyone play it at the right speed.

Yes, it's a slow process. Getting the rhythm right is the really hard bit about reading music. There isn't (AFAIK) an easy way of speeding up the learning. Just keep plodding along - you'll get there.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,552
I find slowing things down, and working out the rhythm of a phrase before playing it helps. I still find I have problems with counting, especially half beats and half rests - quavers or dotted crotchets are worst for me, but with time you get to recognise the "feel" of a rhythm and the playing of a phrase becomes more instinctive.

My quartet is tackling Pachelbel's Cannon at the moment, and I have an Alto part that repeats "rest, then 3 slurred quavers" 16 times as my opening bars. I still count this in my head as as "grunt and two and" "grunt and two and".... somehow it works for me.
It does come with time, then you'll have more of an instinctive feel for phrases than actually counting the beats.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,945
A couple of tricks from choir singing that might help.

With complex rhythms, try speaking the rhythm in time (to 'la' or whatever you fancy). Keep doing that until you've got it nailed in your head and then try to do it 'for real'.

There is NO shame in slowing it down: if you can't get it right at a slow speed - you're not going ot be any better at tempo!

In a choir, each part can be singing something completely different with all kinds of complex cross-rhythms (if you want a challenge try Bach or Benstein!)

It took me a while when I started singing (I hadn't sung a note until my 30s) - it seeps in eventually. As you push yourself to improve, you'll wonder what the problem was with stuff in the future that seems hard now.
 

Rogerb

Member
Messages
764
Yes, eventually it becomes 'automatic' or programmed, rather like the fundamentals of driving. (It's not 'instinctive'...at least not to me!)
The thing is....I started driving tractors on the farm when I was seven, but didn't take up music(reading and playing) until sixty years later :)))
(I only ever had one car driving lesson ....wouldn't like to add-up how much I have given to my sax-teacher :) )

I cheat, by saying "Just play that through first, please, Don" .... as I have a good ear and memory, I can sometimes then sort-of relate the dots and rhythm to how I recall it should sound !!
But I am stuffed when it is just 'an exercise' with nothing memorable in it !!
(And Don sometimes says "Well that may be how Frank Sinatra sings it, but just play the notes on the page!")
 
Last edited by a moderator:

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
. If you're struggling to get them right then I must presume you are aware that you're getting them wrong. Well, that's half the battle then.
Mr. Wyver's sagacious remark is only partially correct, it is at least seventy-five per cent of the learning sawtooth.

Just think how much more you know now than when you started your journey. Personal belief is that the only musicians who need to count are percussionists in symphony orchestras where 417 bar rests are common. If you lose count, you have to hurry back from the pub in case you miss your entry.
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
Jeanette
slowing down is the first thing.
my teacher teaches me to count (for example in 4/4 time)
one & two & three & four &.
I do this count with my foot, so my foot is down on the one and up on the &
then down on the two, up on the & ...... following on to the end of the measure.
I always start slow and increase speed as I gain confidence and ability with the tune.
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
I know you have plenty of answers here but I started reading from scratch about 18 months ago. It was beaten into me that reading is counting. Its not that easy and I am still a far from perfect sight reader but I check the time, say 4/4 and tap the four beats wiath my foot. It helps to just figure out whats on and off the beat beforehand then down is on the beat, up is off the beat, and it doesnt matter if its a rest or a note, its the same. But I wouldn´t feel bad about it, its simple in theory, hard to master, and it will take a while to become natural.
Best of luck
Mike
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
It's like most skills. When you first learn it, it's uppermost in your mind, so that it gets in the way of every thing else (breathing, fingering etc). As you do more of it, it gets easier and more natural, until you don't even realise you're diong it. But you have to go through that stage of doing it consciously first. I'm experiencing a similar process with learning to improvise. I've done a lot of music before, but never had to keep track of a chord sequence in my head while playing a tune before. At first it seemed almost impossible. Now I'm just about hanging on, and hopefully in the future it will become as automatic as all the other stuff we do while playing.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
25,903
Thank you all for taking the time to reply, it helps to know it is normal and I will just have to be patient.

I have avoided foot tapping as I didn't find that comfortable when stood up and also found it distracting tho I know a lot of people find it useful.

Jx
 
Last edited by a moderator:

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
yeh foot tapping is harder standing , it puts your balance more on one foot
i find it easier when sitting.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,552
I have avoided foot tapping as I didn't find that comfortable when stood up and also found it distracting tho I know a lot of people find it useful.

Jx
I find foot tapping makes my hip hurt very quickly (I play standing, always) So I've taken to bouncing! I sort of bob at my knees. Which I find far more comforable. I have no doubt that I probably annoy other members of the band on occasions when doing this. :)))
Interesting this morning, at out quartet practice, I was playing my part of Pachelbels Canon (that really fiddly sounding bit) - doing really well, but I tend to tongue all notes, and I needed to slur them. I can hit all the notes correctly - pitch and time - when tongued, but could I when slurring, could I flip! For me it was a bit like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. In principle I could play the piece, in practice it wouldn't come together.
I think it's a case of mastering the basics first, then adding the clever stuff :D
 
Messages
69
I find tapping my foot a pain in the hind end really... But it is not uncommon to see me moving when I play, I'm constantly doing something! Dancing, moving at the elbows, really any movement to help me keep time.

Practice makes permanent :D
 

Gandalfe

Member
Messages
107
I got through high school and discovered in college that I couldn't sight read (aka count). I thought I was a pretty good soloist with lots of opportunity to do so and lead the section, but that just demonstrates how few people took the time to learn to count. Like anything repetition, lessons, and perserverance will pay off.

I have an hour of sightreading a week with an instructor. It would appear I have a very quick ear and can match everything that he is playing. So he will randomly stop just to see what I do. He also has me try to clap out the beat before I play. You can't be a leader if you can't read so for me this is time well spent.

Regarding tapping, it can be very annoying for the audience if you tap your foot. And in an ensemble often everyone will be tapping a little bit off the beat. So if you want to tap you might consider doing so with your big toe versus your whole foot. The audience can then concentrate on your lovely sound and musicality without be distracted by your tapping foot.

I used to tell my grandkids when I was giving them lessons that the first time you try anything, you suck. And then the next time, you suck even worse. (The word 'suck' made the kids laugh.) On the third attempt, you started to get better. Starting slow and building speed is the way the pros do it; if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
I agree with you gandalfe ,
foot tapping would not be good in an ensemble.
I was merely suggesting as a beginner foot tapping could be of benefit , later
progressing to just moving the big toe if necessary,
As a beginner we possibly need to exagerate everything,
but as a professional you would be able to take many shortcuts.
experience is everything.
 
Saxholder Pro

Members online

Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom