If musicians of all instruments and genres could agree on one theme that probably characterized their years of lessons, that theme could very well be keeping a steady beat. “Keep it steady!” has been drilled into students by music teachers since the beginning of time. This is, of course, for good reason; if music is sound presented in the context of some sort of timing, then we can all agree that it is paramount that we learn to understand the “time” aspect of our playing.
Naturally, the first step is learning simply to control. Everyone learns about the metronome as a good place to start, and this is also for good reason. Pianists as far back in history as Beethoven have marveled at the ability of the magic rocking pendulum to straighten out any and all difficulties in rhythm and counting. Others, such as Robert Schumann a bit later, used the still-new invention to indicate tempo markings in pieces. Some of these surviving instructions cause nearly everyone to question the accuracy of the early metronomes. At any rate, one thing that students at that time must have had with current students is a near-universal hatred of the device. We MUST remember, though, that it is only a place to start, and that there is no such thing as a pulse that never breathes. If art mirrors life, as is said, then we know that the pulse mirrors the human heartbeat. There as well, flexibility is a trademark. Those who can endure the discipline of even ten to fifteen minutes of metronome work daily as a point of reference will find that the finished product of a learned piece, even when using rubato, will be much easier to control and express.
We hope you find inspiration and useful advice in our Knoxville Suzuki Academy faculty blog posts. If you are not currently enrolled in Suzuki lessons with Knoxville Suzuki Academy and would like to learn more about this possibility, please explore our website www.knoxvillesuzukiacademy.com.