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Adult student Rhythmic REHAB

rhythm chart

I have four piano students in rehab who are grappling with metrical issues. They might start with a healthy quarter note in a five-finger position warm-up; manage proportioned 8th notes, but totally relapse playing 16ths.

That’s when their confidence sinks to new lows.

It’s just in time for the metronome, not used as a crutch, but to raise consciousness about a steady pulse. Then I shut it off.

With a robotic injection of quarters set at MM= 45 embedded in the memory, those rhythmically afflicted will re-start their 4-measure warm-up in an upbeat spirit, until the devilish double-beamed notes plague them once again.

But there’s hope.

Bring on the “double-leedle” second responder syllabic squad, (DSRSS) and add tapping hands to keep the life blood of semi-quavers flowing.

The left hand can flesh out quarters atop the piano, while the right fills in with 4 even impulses.

Then transfer to the keyboard. (Prescribed, as needed)


“RAVI” (no relation to Shankar) is a good example of braving a rigorous treatment course given the scope of his disorder.

Sam blue eighth note stickers

He not only tenaciously fights the demons of rhythmic unrest, but he sets up challenges that most students would shrink from.

The Mozart Minuet in F, K. 5, a land mine of triplets and 16ths is HIS chosen milieu and he’s determined to deal with its unsettling terrain, one quaver at a time.

Mozart Minuet in F, K. 5

And in keeping with protocols meant to move rhythmically compromised students along the path to cure, I heeded Ravi’s request for humanitarian aid by video capsule.

At snail’s pace, I counted out every measure of the first page:

This injection of rhythmic life was meant to sustain Ravi through long days and nights at the piano. He’ll ingest it in iPad form, taking his medicine DAILY as directed.

By all accounts the prognosis is GOOD! Ravi will be out of REHAB in a heartbeat, humming along from measure-to-measure with new-found confidence and control.


Piano Instruction, Mozart Minuet in F, K. 5

3 thoughts on “Adult student Rhythmic REHAB”

  1. My rhythmic challenge is double. Not only do I do I have the same difficulties as your students, but also as soon as I stop using the metronome I ALWAYS end up speeding up – and of course messing up – no matter how slow I tell myself to go when I first start practising. No matter how often I get told ‘it’s not a race!”


  2. Thanks for sharing. Yes, it’s doubling that trips up students and the problem is largely unrelated to their ability to play quick notes. They have the flexibility. But with continued prompts, not necessarily using the metronome these pupils can be rehabilitated with fewer relapses. I should write a research paper and submit to a Journal. (not sure which one)


  3. I am trying to find out information about my paternal grandfather, Ruvin Smusin (Robert Moskow), brother to your grandfather Charlie. Please respond by private email.


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