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The Adult Piano Student Rhythmic Quagmire

It’s practically a universal problem area for adult students in the beginner to intermediate range. Keeping a steady pulse in scale playing, and then making transitions to double speed, as from 16ths to 32nds is a big challenge for them.

Most pupils can handle 32nds alone, and play them evenly. (I set a quarter note slow enough to accommodate 8 even notes to each beat) The difficulty resides in perceiving and feeling the relationship between quarters to 8ths to 16ths to 32nds.

In the attached videotaped lesson segment, the student does well with quarters to 8ths, but has consistent snags from 16ths to 32nds. (very common, as mentioned)
Therefore, I often enlist the “double-leedle” syllable cue to help with this transition, that’s demonstrated on camera.

Next week, I’ll have the pupil bring his metronome to set the QUARTER note at a fixed rate, as reminder of where he began. I don’t believe most students do well adhering to robotic beats in the course of playing. They inevitably lose the singing pulse essence that’s organic to music-making.

(Others among the professional teaching community might disagree)

STUDENT EXAMPLE (transfer pupil with 7 months of study)

My “feeling” is that with repeated lesson exposures to my framing tempo and rhythm (along with viewing these video supplements) the student will
improve his rhythmic transitions. The metronome as mentioned will be useful to CONSULT for the quarter note setting, but then put away.

P.S. I welcome feedback from adult students around the country and world, as to what best worked for them in navigating the tricky rhythmic universe of scale playing.

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