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Thread: Help! I can't hear the beat when I play a break

  1. #51
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! I can't hear the beat when I play a break

    I was turning this string over in my mind last night and thought that maybe the OP needs a better definition of foot-tapping. I've had a good sense of rhythm all my life so tapping my foot is pretty much innate. I figured as much with other people until I started playing with some rank beginners, and had my assumptions tested. One guy just learning his instrument (button accordion) found that tapping his foot went contrary to trying to hit the right buttons on the right hand, the left hand and work the bellows ... sort of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. It was just another THING to do. Another guy learning the whistle seemed to think that he needed to tap the words to the song, not the beat of the tune. think of that double syllable in the beginning of 'happy birthday' followed by those single beats. When we'd speed up, he didn't know what to do with his feet. Same with tapping to a hornpipe with that little bounce (ta ta-ta ta-ta ta-ta ta-ta ta ta) where he tried to tap for every 'ta.' I got tired watching him. And eventually guys who do that just slow down because nobody's energy is that sustainable.

    So I'd suggest the OP get a good quick lesson on where the beat actually falls in a piece of music and how you can tap your foot on every second or every third or every fourth beat. It might help.
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  2. #52

    Default Re: Help! I can't hear the beat when I play a break

    I experienced the same when I first began at age 63 ! Now 72 and much better ! Band in the Box program was a big help
    That's encouraging. I've been curious about that Band in the Box program. Maybe I'll give it a look.

  3. #53

    Default Re: Help! I can't hear the beat when I play a break

    And if worse comes to worst, I'll pass along a little thing my jazz banjo teacher taught me. When you flub a note, or a chord, or a part, when you get to the end, just stop and stare up at the ceiling and say "Yeahhhhhhhhhh ...." and everyone will think you are a jazz great.
    Now there's the kind of really practical advice I need! Though maybe 'Yeahhhhh. . ." is a little too jazzy; what would a bluegrasser say?

  4. #54

    Default Re: Help! I can't hear the beat when I play a break

    Quote Originally Posted by speacock View Post
    Now I understand your handle much better!

    From learning to play hockey it was explained to me like this. You have $1 of mental change. If skating takes 75 cents then you don't have much left for handling the puck. It's only when skating and handling cost you so little that you can now look up ... then the real game has begun.

    In music, there's rhythm, dynamics, chords, melody, harmony .... etc. I think all suggestions put forth are all really trying to reduce the mental change these require. Because the real joy in music, just like hockey, is when your head is up!

    This is just it. In the education world, we sometimes call it cognitive overload. I think some of the suggestions here will help reduce the overload.

    For example, today I worked with just my son on guitar on a song where I know the melody quite well--"Shortnin' Bread," for what it's worth. We simplified the break down to all quarter notes, so I was just down picking. We went slow and I tried to really focus in on his beat (thanks, Paul!). He gave me live feedback as we went, so I could really tell when I was on and when I was wavering. I think I made some progress with that, and I hope some regular practice that way with increasing speed and all and then slowly adding in more information from more instruments will really help.

  5. #55

    Default Re: Help! I can't hear the beat when I play a break

    Quote Originally Posted by Randi Gormley View Post
    I started playing with some rank beginners, and had my assumptions tested. One guy just learning his instrument (button accordion) found that tapping his foot went contrary to trying to hit the right buttons on the right hand, the left hand and work the bellows ... sort of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. It was just another THING to do.
    This is so spot on. Foot tapping has always seemed like one more thing to do that I have to focus on to make happen. I also find that when I do tap my foot along, I'm always tapping on the off beat to correspond with my chop; but it seems like it would be better to correspond with the 1 and 3 when I'm doing my break, so I've wondered if my attempts at foot tapping will only make things worse.

  6. #56

    Default Re: Help! I can't hear the beat when I play a break

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    It's time to "Play Along" wth....
    THE SHAGGS! ! ! !

    Exactly! Where does my foot go?!

    By the way, I bought your book on twin mandolin, and I find it fascinating, though, of course, most of it is still beyond me. But as I said, I can play breaks when I play with my daughter's fiddle, and your book taught us to at least play in octaves instead of unisons. We'd really like to put a lot of your other ideas into practice, and maybe we'll be able to if I make some more progress along these lines. Thanks for such a great book!

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