Your Foot Is Not A Metronome
Originally posted by David Arnold on June 12, 2016
Many musicians tap their feet while they are playing to help them keep time. One of my most memorable observations of this was while I was at a middle school band concert. I was sitting eye level to the stage and had an excellent view of the feet of every single band member.
About halfway through the concert I realized that the majority of the band was tapping their feet. What really surprised me was how good the band sounded, especially considering almost none of the feet were tapping in unison. I asked myself, “How can they possibly play together musically when none of them could agree on the same pace with their feet?”
I have done a lot of thinking about this phenomenon and come to the conclusion that tapping your foot is actually more distracting than it is helpful. Your mind has enough to concentrate on where you are playing an instrument, and your foot is just one more thing. While I applaud the active engagement of young musicians to keep good time, it can in fact be a significant detriment to their playing.
There is a simple solution to this problem, and that solution is known as a metronome. The metronome has been helping musicians for a very long time, and is available in more styles than ever now. There are even apps for your mobile device that facilitate practicing with a steady beat.
By allowing the metronome to do the work, you have much more mental energy you can devote to actually playing your instrument. The trick is to use it consistently. Use a metronome for all of your practicing, every day, and you will notice a significant improvement in your playing in no time. Not only will your playing be better, but your ear will be much more in tune to when the tempo is fluctuating.
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