Episode 16: Practising with metronome | The Recorder Magazine
This is María, and this is Hester!
Together we are the CONSORT COUNSELLORS! Today we present a few ways in which you can use the metronome to improve your ensemble playing. Some are classics and others may be not known to you, but for sure they are all very useful! Let’s use the metronome to practice one of the pieces in our repertoire We will focus on the first movement of a duet by Telemann. You will find the full reference and a link to the sheet music in the video description. Option 1: the metronome beats according to the time signature, in this case, 4 beats per bar. Our metronome mark is 90 beats per minute. Use this option if you don’t know the piece very well yet, because you can literally check beat by beat if you are playing rhythmically and if you’re playing together with your colleagues. Option 2: Set the metronome to play only 2 beats to the bar, so, half of the speed we had before, which is, in this case, 45 beats per minute. Like this, your overview is twice as long! That means that you can play lighter and also less accented. Option 3: keep the metronome beating
twice per bar, but now, instead of on the downbeat and the third beat of the bar, let it beep on the second and the fourth beat, on the “after-beat”. This is a great exercise to avoid speeding up or slowing down and to make a music swing! Focus, for example, on the timing of the two 16th-notes following a syncopated quarter note. Since the downbeat is not given by the metronome it is very useful to count in before you start playing, in a “jazzy” way, like this: Option 4: with most modern metronomes and metronome apps you can set very low tempi. That means that you can go one step further and let the metronome beep only once to the bar, on the downbeat. This exercise is very useful if you know the piece very well and if your ensemble is very confident about the rhythm. Its main goal is actually to have a little bit of freedom within the time of one bar, making sure that we are back in track at the following barline. The metronome can also be very helpful if you want to practice fragments in which various lines
are exchanging movement or certain motives For example, look at bars 5 and 6 of the example we just played. You will see that there is a line of eighth-notes divided over both lines. There is also a line of sixteenth notes equally divided over the two lines. Let’s practice the eighth notes line first! You can use all the methods we discussed before but we’d like to choose the two beat per bar option, because in that case we can really focus on the development in the line. Let’s practice bars 5 and 6 with pickup. We only play the eighth notes or longer values, and all the small values we leave out. Let’s focus on sounding as if we are one
player, giving the music direction over these two bars. Let’s also check if we share the length, if we share volume and if we share the same articulation. Let’s now practice the line of sixteenth notes in the same way: we play only when we have sixteenths and leave the rest out. In this case it’s even more important to share speed, direction and articulation, as if we are one player, and ‘give’ the line to each other. The main goal of practicing with metronome is to become more precise and to develop our sense of rhythm. However… the metronome should never steal our musical expression! We also do not need to feel ‘dependent’ on the metronome to play a piece. Let’s not be metronome-slaves! After practicing a passage with all the exercises before, please, let’s get rid of this machine! And let’s focus on all the improvements it has brought to us. We are very proud to announce that the Consort Counsellors feature in the Summer issue of The Recorder Magazine, which is just out! We would like to thank the editor-in-chief, Barbara Law, for offering us some space to share our story with you, including a few special tips for ensemble players: exclusive for you! Of course, some other great recorder players provided content for the magazine as well. Some of them are also very good friends of ours, for example: Anna Stegmann, Sarah Jeffery, Fatima Lahham and Robert de Bree. We leave you a link in the video description so that you can check out the magazine’s website and perhaps take a subscription. Happy reading! Don’t forget to subscribe! And if you have questions or comments for us… Contact us HERE! Bye-bye!