Monday Mailbag – Keeping a Steady Pulse

I am a piano teacher to eight students, and also a student myself. Keeping a steady pulse is one thing that I struggle with when I play, so I don’t often put enough emphasis on it when I teach. Could you share some ways that you work on it with your students so I could get some ideas?

This is a challenging issue! Some students naturally have a great sense of pulse, and some…not so much. Assuming that the issue really is a lack of pulse awareness and not a symptom of another problem (poor fingering, note-reading difficulties, etc.), there are a variety of things that you can do to help your students (and yourself!) improve in this area.

1. Learn conducting patterns and try conducting along with music as you listen to it.

2. Learn about Eurhythmics and incorporate elements of it in your teaching. Things like dancing a waltz or minuet, marching to a beat, swaying in rhythm, etc. are effective approaches for internalizing the pulse.

3. Play lots of duets and ensembles! A lot of method books also have accompaniment recordings available so that you can play pieces along with them. I have had a student using the Scales, Patterns, and Improvs book this year and we have seen huge progress in her sense of pulse!

4. Here are a few other specific activities I’ve used that have been helpful:

Honestly, this is something I should emphasize much more in my teaching, I think. Thanks for the inspiration! I’d love to hear any other ideas to help students out in this area.

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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