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#3129510 06/19/21 11:33 PM
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I thought that if I persevered with this teacher, that maybe, things would improve. Instead, I’m more frustrated than ever. I haven’t completely mastered any piece that I’ve worked on but what’s worse, is that I have no idea what I need to do in order to master them or how to do it.
One thing that I have always had a problem with, is timing. Even if I tap or clap the beats before playing, once I start playing, I lose the rhythm. The teacher told me to use a metronome but I really don’t know how to use it.
It seems to me, then, that something is missing from my instruction. It doesn’t matte how much I practice, I get the same results. Most of the time, when I do practice, I’m not aware that I’m not playing something correctly. In fact, when I practice, I think I’m playing pretty well. There has to be a reason why I’m not getting to the point of being able to master the pieces that I’m playing. I don’t think they're over my head by any means but I think I need exercises in addition to just playing the songs, to help me improve upon whatever is lacking and this teacher just doesn’t provide those things. I’m to the point that I don’t feel like practicing at all anymore because whatever I’m doing when I practice is obviously wrong and I’m not improving. It’s discouraging to practice then not see anything from it. At least if I don’t practice and have the same issues, I won’t feel so bad.

Last edited by Mils; 06/19/21 11:40 PM.
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What are you trying to play and do you know what it is supposed to sound like?

I personally play stuff like torch songs, Frank Sinatra, 70's rock and movie music. All of which is stuff that I "know" before I even start playing it.

So what I do is just "sing it". Not out loud, of course, but in the case of songs with words I sing it to myself and in the case of instrumental-only pieces I still sing it to myself. "Dum-de-doo-da..dum-de-doo-da..dum!"

It may not be (probably isn't) a really recommended way to play music but it works for me. I still count beats and such when I have to but I find that when I focus on what it's supposed to sound like instead of just one-and-a-two-three-and-four it sounds better and it's more fun to play that way since I concentrate on the music instead of trying to be a robot.

In the case of stuff that I've never heard before (old parlour music that I download from various university websites when it looks interesting) I count it and work out the beats and the sound in pieces before I start trying to play it. I figure out what it's supposed to sound like, and then I try to make it sound like that.

My suggestion is to try to play something that you know. Christmas carols are good because they're engraved on everyone's brain. Can you play Silent Night and make it sound right? Once you've got that, then you've got something. Now try Jingle Bells. smile

And carry on from there.


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Originally Posted by Mils
One thing that I have always had a problem with, is timing. Even if I tap or clap the beats before playing, once I start playing, I lose the rhythm. The teacher told me to use a metronome but I really don’t know how to use it.

You might find one of the phone app metronomes that counts aloud for you to be useful. I use Speakbeat. If it’s 4/4 time it will count One, Two, Three, Four. But if there are eighth notes, you tap on the eighth notes symbol, then it will count One And Two And Three And Four.

Then you write 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & above the notes on the sheet music.

Then you match your playing to the app’s voice, while looking at the numbers you’ve marked on the music. Go as slow as you need and gradually speed up. Once you are comfortable, try doing the counting yourself, both with and without a normal click metronome.

Sorry if any of this is stating the obvious but I don’t know what you already know.


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Mils
Aren’t you continuing the same problem: lack of communication? When your teacher suggests using the metronome, did you ask ‘I don’t know how; please show me’. Please start asking questions of your teacher, rather than assuming you just need to be taught a different way. Unless you are willing to do that, changing teachers will not eliminate your frustration— it will just move to another teacher. Finding an exercise is not a magic bullet to fix your rhythm problem.


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I suggest you record yourself playing and you post your audio or video, so that we can actually hear how you are playing. Everything else is vasted time. I think no one has any idea of what is wrong with your playing and when you say your practice seems fine, it is pretty usual for beginners that there is a difference between their perception and the reality of what it actually sounds.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
I suggest you record yourself playing and you post your audio or video, so that we can actually hear how you are playing. Everything else is vasted time. I think no one has any idea of what is wrong with your playing and when you say your practice seems fine, it is pretty usual for beginners that there is a difference between their perception and the reality of what it actually sounds.


+1 !!!!!!!

There are two separate issues:

(a) If you don't record your playing, and listen to it, you have _no idea_ of what you're really doing.

(b) If we can't hear it, _we_ can't find the problem(s) and make serious suggestions for improvement.

Originally Posted by dogperson
Mils --

Aren’t you continuing the same problem: lack of communication? When your teacher suggests using the metronome, did you ask ‘I don’t know how; please show me’. Please start asking questions of your teacher, rather than assuming you just need to be taught a different way. Unless you are willing to do that, changing teachers will not eliminate your frustration— it will just move to another teacher. Finding an exercise is not a magic bullet to fix your rhythm problem.

Using a metronome is a _learned skill_. Spend some time during your next lesson on "learning how to practice with a metronome." And expect to spend time at home practicing with it, thinking about _just matching its beat_. Start with a C major scale. If that's too hard, start with playing _one note_ in time with its ticks.

. . . But your teacher can get you started, better than my written instructions.


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Agree with the suggestions to record yourself and listen to the playing. Also, revert back to bar at at time, or phrase by phrase, or section by section. Possibly simpler pieces too to gain confidence and results. You could learn to use a metronome and counting with something like scales as a warm up, and slowly introduce it to simpler pieces, but its better to eventually 'feel' the beat or rhythm once its been figured out.

Another teacher is needed if this one is not helping. Good luck.

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Also - use the metronome for say five minutes and build up- it can drive you round the twist otherwise

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I would start out by just being your own metronome. Count:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

and use your right foot to "accent" the quarter notes. So your foot hits the floor "on the beat" (the quarter notes) and is off the floor in between the quarter notes (the "&"'s).

Notate on the sheet music where each note "falls" in the pattern. Clap the notes without playing them on the piano, just so you can hear and feel the rhythm, without the distraction of also playing the notes.

I've played drums for years (long time ago), so I definitely know how to use a metronome and I understand rhythm, but when it comes to reading and playing music on a piano, I still sometimes get confused as to exactly what the proper timing is. You just have to slow it down, as much as is necessary, and count it out! I don't care if you have to get down to 40 beats per minute (which is very, very slow). "1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &", figure out where each note falls, and clap it out loud.

The more you do this, the easier it will get. No magic bullets, just a lot of work.

Are we having fun yet? smile


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Originally Posted by SeaDrive
and use your right foot to "accent" the quarter notes. So your foot hits the floor "on the beat" (the quarter notes) and is off the floor in between the quarter notes (the "&"'s).

and pedaling at the same time?


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You have to practice SLOOOOOOOOW. Right hand, LH, both hands….use the metronome to build up speed. Then go back to single hands to build speed. Use the SLOOOOOOOOOOOW practice to READ out the rhythm as you play. Frustration is likely coming from putting everything all together TOOOOOO fast. You have to go ridiculously slow to build in fingering, rhythm, speed, sight reading…and if you are playing stretch pieces…you will take from it what you need, but it wouldn’t be perfect. If you are a newbie..getting some pieces not perfect is part of the learning. Keep practicing.

Last edited by Pianoperformance; 06/20/21 07:37 AM.

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Originally Posted by mmathew
and pedaling at the same time?

Clap, tap and pedal is on a whole different level! ha


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Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
Agree with the suggestions to record yourself and listen to the playing. Also, revert back to bar at at time, or phrase by phrase, or section by section. Possibly simpler pieces too to gain confidence and results. You could learn to use a metronome and counting with something like scales as a warm up, and slowly introduce it to simpler pieces, but its better to eventually 'feel' the beat or rhythm once its been figured out.

Another teacher is needed if this one is not helping. Good luck.

That would be the 4th or 5th teacher in about two years. IMHO, if you don’t ask questions when you don’t understand, finding a teacher will become a fruitless endeavor. The best of teachers is not a mind reader; as students, we can do our part by saying ‘please show me’; ‘I don’t understand’; ‘I don’t know how’.

But since I have said this multiple Times through the teacher sagas, I will now bow out of this conversation.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
That would be the 4th or 5th teacher in about two years. IMHO, if you don’t ask questions when you don’t understand, finding a teacher will become a fruitless endeavor. The best of teachers is not a mind reader; as students, we can do our part by saying ‘please show me’; ‘I don’t understand’; ‘I don’t know how’.

But since I have said this multiple Times through the teacher sagas, I will now bow out of this conversation.
I agree, the student/teacher relationship is like a dance. Both need to be completely participating or it won’t work. It’s not the teaching telling you what to do and you doing it without question. You work together to figure things out and fix issues. My teacher drills me several times on passages, to make sure I have it going forward. We go really slow sometimes, one note at a time if need be, and the score is all marked up, lol. When you leave, you should know exactly what you’re doing. Don’t ever leave unless you know how to proceed for the week!


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Yeah I frequently ask my teacher questions. If they find it irritating or annoying then there is something wrong as you are a paying customer

Last edited by Wayne2467; 06/20/21 09:40 AM.
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@ebonyk: 100% agree. It’s becoming a common thread recently of ‘it’s the teacher, not me’…. Yup, communication is BOTH WAYS.

similar that my teacher will make me go as slow as I need to … and we always summarize homework, and next lesson, I let him know what areas were causing me jitters 🤣. Maybe it’s luck, but I have had 1 teacher … grateful.


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The OP says there is a problem with rhythm and that tapping or clapping doesn't help. Does the teacher encourage counting, if not the teacher should be asked to explain counting? The OP says that after practice he/she is happy with how they are playing a piece but presumably after a lesson he/she concludes the piece isn't mastered. Does the teacher explain the short comings of the OP's performance in a supportive way and why not continue with that piece until it is mastered ?
Attending piano lessons can be discouraging if a student puts in much work only to be advised that it is not quite right but that is why we pay for a professional teacher. Even if some aspect of the music isn't quite right there is usually something to praise.

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..again, it’s communication and expectations. I come to learn that you might be working on stretch piece and both myself and teacher recognize that RIGHT NOW I wouldn’t be able to play it to the full. More times than not, the teacher is gently moving the student forward and on, but it’s likely the student doesn’t want to and remains stubbornly on it….sometimes, it’s learning when the right time to move on with a piece. Revisit it later when you have mastered it. It’s been a long road of learning how to master a piece. All of us on here could write a thesis of our experiences. There is always 2 sides to a story. The OP can try some of the techniques I put forward, but also reflect on whether they are on a stretch piece with too much going on versus current development.

When I am presented with a new piece, I will review with my teacher: what am I developing here and are there too much going on that I get lost in the Forrest.


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Originally Posted by keff
The OP says there is a problem with rhythm and that tapping or clapping doesn't help.


Ah... I somehow missed that part. Note to self: try reading the OP's entire post before formulating solution to problem! crazy

Okay, so... if I know how to tap/clap the rhythm without playing it, but quickly proceed to get lost when I start playing... I would say that the problem is that I don't know the piece well enough. It can be difficult to stay in time when your mind is 100% engaged in remembering how to play the piece.

So... maybe the problem is... worrying about timing before getting the piece fully "under the fingers"? confused

Maybe the OP is right, and more basic exercises are needed to create a technique that would allow for better progress. Being a newbie myself, I don't have enough experience to know whether or not that is the case.


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Any form of tapping or clapping or counting only works as long as it doesn’t go wrong itself, which it can easily do if you’re trying to do complicated things like play at the same time.That’s why suggesting these sort of solutions for someone with rhythmic difficulties is probably not going to help. Sure, they need to learn to do it in the long term, but you have to walk before you can run. A reliable external source is needed.

That’s probably why the teacher suggested the metronome and why I suggested a counting app (which helps you keep lined up with the exact beat within the bar better than just a generic click metronome).


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