One of the areas that I am constantly aware of need for improvement in my studio is playing with a sense of pulse. We’ve spent an entire month highlighting just this aspect of playing, but I realize that it needs to be a part of every lesson. Instrumental students definitely have an advantage in learning this since there is no forgiveness when playing with an orchestra or band. Even playing duets with students, it’s so easy to give a little extra time to help compensate for unevenness in pulse.
I recently came across this helpful post by Alex Thio called, “Pulse or Bust – The Importance of Pulse in the Collaborative Arts.” I especially appreciated this comment that he made: “It is one thing to FEEL a pulse within oneself: it is another to depend on the mechanical, stalwart beat of the metronome.” There’s also a free pdf file referenced at the bottom that has some helpful information and ideas. For example, did you know that “The word metronome is taken from two Greek words: “metron” meaning ‘a measure’ and “nomos” meaning ‘a law'”?
Students must learn to feel the pulse from the inside out. Whether it’s through using the metronome more, clapping and tapping, doing eurhythmic activities, learning to conduct, playing with CDs, or any number of approaches, I am convinced that this is something that really needs to be more of a priority in my teaching. Now if I can just figure out how to make that happen… 🙂