A Rhythmic Challenge (Any Takers?)

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Derek Reaban, Jan 9, 2006.

  1. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    609
    1
    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    There was a recent post about internal pulse that got me to thinking about the work that I have done to improve this aspect of my playing in the past. I discovered that I “had a pulse†after I spent about a month working out of Rhythmic Training by Robert Starer. However, I only scratched the surface of this book, and ended up discontinuing my studies several months after I started. At this point I had only moved through Chapter 1 and part of Chapter 2, focusing exclusively on internalizing pulse.

    For some reason, I remember reading very insightful comments about “rhythm†in Kenny Werner’s “Effortless Masteryâ€. He writes:

    Werner goes on to write:

    Wow! Every time I pick up this book I find that leads me to question what I’m doing to move my playing forward. Well, I think I just read what I needed to provide me with a course for 2006. Since I’ve spent so much time on cultivating a resonant sound in my playing, I think it’s time to touch this next aspect of my technical growth as a player.

    The Robert Starer book contains 100 exercises that are divided into 12 chapters. With my experience working from this book in the past, I’m guessing that one month per chapter should be about right for me to absorb this material. When I first found this book, the woman that turned me on to it was from Eastman and said it was used there during her course of study (apparently also at Juilliard since the author was a teacher there). That’s good enough for me!

    My plan is to target 5-10 minutes per day working from this book over the course of the year (not a very large time commitment). This is practice away from the trumpet, so I will simply program this work between practice sessions each evening.

    If you are interested, I would like to invite you to join me in this learning adventure. I’m sure that I will come out on the other side of this year’s worth of exercises a transformed player. If you choose to join me, I’m certain that we will be able to share suggestions and act as a support group as progress becomes more challenging.

    This is a link to a post that I wrote at the end of 2003 called A Rhythmic Epiphany. It has some details about my initial work with the book.

    I’ll plan on adding some posts about what I’m currently working on this time next week. If you can find a copy of the book between now and then, you can join me! I looking forward to being able to “eally burn†with great internal time this time next year!
     
  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    5,915
    10
    Sep 29, 2004
    USA
    I think Kenny Werner needs to associate with a better class of string player. He makes some ridiculous statements based on his limited experience. The person who refined my rhythmic sense was a "white American" named William Vacchiano.

    Statements like that begin the slippery slope of typecasting cultures. If you can say that one culture is better at rhythmic endeavors than another, then one could easily turn that around to use against that same culture when it comes to melody. Perhaps Brazilians, by his logic, should only be allowed to percussion instruments but not trumpets or violins. How's that sound? I don't know what you'd do with Puerto Ricans, they just like to dance.

    I'm merely saying that he could have made his point without that kind of politically pandering statement and that's all it was, pure and simple. I've been hearing it for years. Maybe that's why people assume I can play jazz before they've heard me play a note when the fact is, I am not a good jazz player. Lead playing and jazz improv are different, in my mind.

    All that said, I'll check out the "epiphany", Derek, and thank you for going to the trouble to post your experiences regarding rhythm. You are one of those people on the site that goes into subjects in depth and I always learn something form them.

    ML
     
  3. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    609
    1
    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    Manny,

    Clearly, an individual’s unique perspective will leave them shaking their head either yes or no with respect to that “strings†comment. I know that all of your colleagues are the cream of the crop, and Werner’s comments would not make sense in that context. However, I’m guessing that for 90+ percent of the people that read his words (and instead of “average string player†fill in “MEâ€) would be shaking their heads in agreement regarding “timeâ€. When I sing with my Church choir, I’m shocked at the complete lack of time in 95 percent of the people up there (and rhythmic identification falls apart quickly for most of these people for syncopated rhythms or anything smaller than an eighth note). Regardless, these people are making music, and I’m amazed at how well it usually turns out every week! Even with my colleagues in the orchestra (head and shoulders above the choir folks) there are clearly time issues as an ensemble.

    This topic is targeting those of us who recognize a “gap†in our learning. Filling in this gap will lead to a much more satisfying music making experience! Werner has a great quote regarding this (wish I had the book with me), and I don’t read his words in a negative context. He’s just sharing a perceived, general experience and then challenging the reader (and indeed himself) to target the fundamentals of playing in a lifelong journey of technical improvement in order to let the music flow without restriction. I remember you writing about this when you posted about hearing Wynton in an intimate jazz club several years ago (I think it was your first post at TH).

    Mr. Vacchiano was a “white American†but he was anything but AVERAGE! I have one of his etude books that pursue extremely challenging rhythmic ideas (as well as many ways of notating the same rhythmic idea), and I fall apart very quickly when I try to play from it. I decided that I want to fix this part of my playing! This is my opportunity to do that!

    I hope there will be some takers to explore this journey with me! I’m very excited about this adventure!


    Take care,
     
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    6,793
    3,560
    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    If you really want to work on your sense of rhythm and time, take up playing drums - trust me on this, I know. ;-)
     
  5. gregc

    gregc Mezzo Piano User

    546
    3
    Apr 5, 2004
    New York, U.S. of A.
    Playing the kit is an excellent primer for rhythm, no surprise there. I played snare in marching band, then kit drums through HS. In all my musical endeavors post (guitar, and then trumpet) my years of drumming have been a blessing in disguise; especially when reading tough rhythmic passages. There's enough going on for me without having to stress over the correct rhythm, feel, etc...
     
  6. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    609
    1
    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    There’s a comment in the preface that I think is important. Starer says, “The student with previous experience will find his place in the book when he encounters his first difficultyâ€. Given the work that I did in Chapter One prior to starting with the book this time, I’m guessing that you and I will be starting in different place. And that’s fine!

    I’m going to spend time on Internal Pulse during my first session and Rhythmic Identification during the second session.

    Internal Pulse (IP)

    Tonight when I worked through Chapter One, I decided to limit myself to as many exercises as I could complete in 10 minutes. I like to “tap†the exercises. I do about four bars of the “rhythm†line (tapping with my left hand on my leg to get the strong beat / weak beat pattern established). Then I tap through the specific rhythmic pattern with my right hand on my leg after the left hand is on autopilot.

    When I move on to the next exercise I change the “rhythm†line to my right hand. Starer says, “It is strongly recommended that the methods of execution be changed frequently, so that none becomes an exclusive habitâ€.

    I managed to tap through exercises 4 through 11 tonight. I had several exercises that I had to begin again because my rhythm hand stopped, or because I made a mistake on the notated part. I remember getting through exercise 15 without any errors in about 10 minutes when I was doing this regularly. I have some work to do. This is my starting place. I remember taking these exercises EXTREMELY slowly when I first started to make them perfect. Go at your own pace and focus on the strong beat / weak beat and make it literally go on autopilot. Don’t accept anything less!

    Rhythmic Identification (RI)

    Next I spent time with the metronome, about 5-6 minutes. I started with Chapter 3 with the metronome at about 80. I managed to work through 27, 28, and 29. I sang the notated rhythms and conducted the patterns to add some movement to these. I found these to be challenging. Subdividing the triplets, especially in the 3rd line of 27, gave me difficulty. I felt like I was guessing on the third triplet after the ties. I’m sure with practice, the subdivision will be stronger in my head when doing these.

    My plan is to spend a month with Chapter One for IP and a month in Chapter Three for RI. When I find my sticking points in each of these chapters, I’ll spend more time working out the challenges.


    Patrick and Greg,

    This is about as close as I'm going to get to playing drums. Point well taken though! I've heard that learning to play all of the various percussion instruments will teach you to really be stylistically correct when playing in Salsa bands. That makes sense to me! Given the groups that I play with, I think what I'm doing makes the most sense.
     
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    6,793
    3,560
    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    I thought I would toss a comment in here, not to float my own boat, but rather as a testament that in general, internalizing the pulse and sense of time is not as common as I once thought.

    I played drums for a new praise band this last weekend, so I went to my first rehearsal on Thursday, and played drums for two services on Sunday morning. They guys in the band are really digging what I do behind the kit - the thing is, I didn't do anything extraordinary, or at least not from a technical or chops standpoint. What I did do was make my best effort to simply lock into a groove and create a solid pocket that the band could hinge on, and I also did my best to set up transitions and kick the band in appropriate places.

    To hear the guys in the band talk, apparently these things are foreign concepts to a lot of drummers, which really surprises me because as a drummer, if you can't hold time and play in the pocket, or if you aren't setting the band up for transitions with tasteful, appropriate kicks, how can the band ever really gel?

    The book might be a good thing for me to grab up, if for nothing else to help me improve my ability to read and feel more complex syncopated patterns.
     
  8. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    609
    1
    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    Patrick,

    It would be great to have you join this ongoing Starer book project!

    Speaking of terrible time, I had a job this weekend at a Church where I haven’t performed before. My friend Tim Moke hired me, and I knew all the other players. This should have been a really fun musical experience.

    We did an anthem with the choir that had some mixed meter measures (3/8, 3/8, 3/8, 2/4, 4/4). Before we started the conductor told us that he might find himself going with us more than conducting us because there were some rhythmic challenges in the piece. OMG! What a mess this guy was! He told us that he would give us four bars and then we should start at the top of the piece (with that 3/8, 3/8, 3/8, 2/4 pattern). His 2/4 was less than 2 eighth notes long in a completely different tempo than the one pulse that he had set up. This was during the rehearsal just before the service.

    Tim and I looked at each other and said, “Just go with usâ€. No problem. We played loud and held everything together. During the service he told us that we needed to play much softer so that the choir could be heard. When we started the piece, he gave this flailing 2/4 bar and the piano player started a beat early and the whole thing fell apart. Tim stopped the group and ended up starting us. Man, this conductor was more like a saboteur! There were several other times when he just had a blank stare on his face wondering what was going to happen.

    The most bizarre thing about this was that he also played the organ on one piece (a Bach Cantata with 2 trumpets) and his time was very good. He just had no idea how to handle mixed odd meter keeping the eighth note constant.
     
  9. Philippe

    Philippe New Friend

    15
    0
    Oct 17, 2005
    Dear rhythmical friends,
    I totally agree with importance of rhythmic training outside of the instrument.
    As a student at the Schulic school of music at McGill university, i am required to do 6 terms of a "musicianship" course which involves completing the starer book and also the hindemith book for rhythm. (we also complete atonal method books and song books. Not to mention learning to conduct sections of the Rite of Spring while singing the notes and rhythms) We have several methods of practicing. All of which were previously mentioned except for speaking the time signiture, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16. and clapping the rhythm. It gets quite complicated in the hindemith especially because you have to speak the time and tap TWO rhythms at once (essentially becoming a drummer.) Progress is checked by weekly prepared in-class tests which are confirmed at the beginning of the term. All of this being said, Rhythm (musicianship practice) is so important. You'de be surprised at how much better sight reading gets and also your overall stability as a player/musician. JUST DO IT! :D
    Philippe
     
  10. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    609
    1
    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    Philippe,

    Thanks for your feedback. I have opened this topic on the TH website as well, and know that players from Eastman and Juilliard are also required to use the Starer book. After a year of diligent study I may also look into the Hindemith book that you mention.

    On a related note, I was travelling to Montreal regularly for several years for meetings at Bombardier (in Dorval). During one stay I was in the hotel just across the street from McGill. I would visit the Strathcona Music building every evening to practice and managed to get a lesson with Russ Devuyst and hear the OSM at the Notre Dame Basilica several times. I certainly enjoyed spending time in your city!

    I think the important point in your message is to highlight how integral this study away from the trumpet is in developing a complete musician.

    Take care and stay warm!
     

Share This Page