Helene Goldnadel


Learning to Keep Time in Music by Helene Goldnadel

The beat, also known as pulse, of the music acts as a reference point for all rhythms occurring in the music. Every rhythm is felt in relation to the beat. Therefore, your rhythmic skills will be based on the ability to maintain a steady beat. Being a musician, you get a fair amount of skill, in terms of techniques and the ease of learning a new musical piece, considering any instrument, per say. Rhythmic instruments like drums, cajon, djembe, tabla, dholak, etc or percussion instruments help a person to understand the beat. Most of the rhythmic instruments act like a metronome or you may also call these instrumentalists, the beat maker.


As a guitar player, keeping a steady beat becomes difficult without having a reference for the beat. The best way to learn to keep a steady beat when you're playing alone is your foot. That's the best metronome you can find when you have no device that can help you follow a beat. Being a musician, having a 'sense of time' is the most important thing. Especially, when you're playing along with a group or a band, you'll either be following someone or you'll be followed by other musicians. If you're a member of the rhythm section, you'll really need to fine-tune and develop your sense of time.


One of the best ways according to Helene Goldnadel to check your rhythmic accuracy is to clap along with a metronome. Firstly, you'll need a metronome that gives a "clicks" sound. It can't give you a beep sound but a click sound rather. You will figure that when you clap accurately along with the metronome the click of the metronome disappears, like someone has turned the metronome off. It is very difficult to be 100% perfect. There is always something called as human error when you play music, which is pretty much necessary and is natural. It is always better to aim for high accuracy. Always start with a slower tempo around 70-80 BPM. The funniest thing is that it is more difficult or more challenging to practice on a slower tempo as compared to a faster tempo. But it surely tests your patience level as a musician and takes a notch up.


There is always a tendency to rush or drag while playing or clapping or tapping. Most of the time, students try too hard and anticipate the beat. This exercise can be quite frustrating after a time but it is very important to be focused while doing the same. The metronome can be your best friend to help you improve your sense of time as a musician. Having a constant feedback of the metronome helps as it keeps you rhythmically aware.

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