Performing

Posts about performing music, recitals, concerts. Topics could cover stage fright, how to have a good recital, etc.

When you play music, how do you think about the beat?  Musicians often think of the beat note as the beginning of something, probably because of written music.  After all, the beat note begins every measure, and beamed notes usually connect the beat note with those that follow.

But is that how we hear it?  Is that how we play it?  Maybe most revealing, is that how we sing it?  Not really.  But I suspect that whichever way we think about this can make a big difference in how we play, practice, and teach music. 

Think of the sentence, “The cat climbed up to the top of the tree.”  If you wrote the rhythm of this sentence in music, it would look like this:

             cat rhythm [···]

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teaching classical music

No matter how beautiful the notes, it’s timing that’s at the heart of the music, so it’s no wonder many players tap their toes. Notes played badly but with good timing still present a recognizable piece of music, whereas notes played beautifully but with careless or unanchored timing can be confusing to listen to, or even unidentifiable.  (See my blog of 10/10.)

How do we make certain of good timing?

There are many angles to that question but for the moment, I’d just like to comment on how musicians reinforce the beat with physical movements, such as tapping feet.

I’ve often noticed that those who play with the clearest sense of timing move physically in some way, as they play. Those who have trouble with timing almost invariably sit or stand nearly motionless.  It seems that even a little motion in time to the music can bring a player down to earth, away from constant worries about how to do everything, and into the realm of feeling the music.

Probably the most important way to reinforce timing is by  [···]

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