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Trumpet Discussion Discuss internal time in the General forums; Hi Manny, My question is spurned on by a player I got together with over the holidays. I've known him ...
  1. #1
    Pianissimo User
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    internal time

    Hi Manny,

    My question is spurned on by a player I got together with over the holidays. I've known him for a few years. He's a very strong player with command of the horn, a very expressive player, and he has a budding career as a freelancer, but like a lot of us he's shooting for an orchestra job. I believe what's holding him back is his time. It's not bad at all, but little things creep in, like on Ballerina's Dance the 16th note runs run ahead a touch, ditto with Ravel Piano Concerto. These aren't drastic at all, but it's probably enough to cost him an audition. Now, when he plays with a metronome these things correct themselves, and when he plays in an ensemble where there is an external pulse, he's also very good. This is a long-winded way of getting to my question which is this: how does a player like this with real command of the horn and a strong musical sense make a relatively small but very significant step forward in his internal sense of time so that it will stand up in an audition? Thanks very much and sorry for the long question.


  2. #2
    Utimate User
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Some people can develop it over time. No one's perfect but you do have to get close and know when you're dragging/rushing enough to change the feel of the music. Some folks just don't have that strong a rhythmic sense also and it really doesn't get much better. It takes a very discriminating ear to know that you're off when there's no accompaniment.

    No one can play Petrushka and be perfect with a metronome if they can't hear it but it is important to maintain the character of the music with some kind of inner drummer.


  3. #3
    Mezzo Piano User Derek Reaban's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Tempe, Arizona

    I can certainly relate to what your friend is experiencing. Here is an excerpt from a post that I wrote several years ago:

    For years I would work on all of my literature with a metronome. With the metronome on, my time and rhythmic integrity was always VERY good. But the second that I turned off the metronome, the pulse was gone, and while I was “close” to being precise, I always had the tendency to “crush” rhythms, stylize passages, and lose time without really being aware of it. It was extremely frustrating for me because I had really put in my time (years) with the metronome and it never seemed to get me to a point where this pulse was internalized.

    Since I was not a music-major in school, I had always felt that I was missing some basic fundamentals that other players just naturally possessed. Then someone suggested to me that I should investigate a book entitled “Rhythmic Training” by Robert Starer. In the book he states that, “The ability to transform visual symbols of rhythmic notation into time-dividing sounds is an acquired skill. It is preferable for the student to produce the pulse himself (tapping, conducting, etc).” How fantastic was it for me when I discovered that internalizing a pulse is a learned skill and not just something that you are born with!

    This book is available at for a mere $6.95. The author taught at Juilliard for 25 years and has a true gift in presenting the material in this book. There are several ways to work through the exercises in the book, which are all visceral in nature (tapping or singing the rhythm while conducting with the other hand or tapping the strong and weak beats on your leg). In this manner I was literally pounding the pulse into myself (internalizing) since I was my own metronome. In one month of focused effort (about 10-15 minutes per evening while resting between practice sessions), I have given myself a pulse. This has certainly breathed a fresh new life into my music!

    This brief story will give you an idea of the transformation that I experienced in my playing. I had received my instrument back from a long stay in the shop for repairs and had been working out of the Starer book for about a month at this point. After a warm-up, I played through Charlier #2 to become familiar with my horn again. As I played I was very aware of something that was very present in my playing that had never been there before. On the last line of the etude, there are two trills that are 6 beats in duration each. In the past when I played these trills, if I varied the speed of the trill (i.e. slow increasing to faster and then slowing to the resolution on one), I had a very difficult time maintaining the full duration of the note (I didn’t know when to resolve to one). Well, as I played, there was a clear and STRONG pulse happening in my mind. I knew exactly when to resolve while I was enjoying the ability to let the trill develop musically!

    The other major benefit of this book is related to identification of rhythmic patterns (literally every combination that there is). Work through this book and you will never be tripped up by a rhythm in your sight-reading ever again! I’m guessing that it would take a minimum of a year to work all the way through the book allowing plenty of time on the individual exercises to put them into your subconscious.

    As far as focused study is concerned, I contend that if you have never considered spending time with a book like this, you should RUN (not walk) to and get yourself a copy. Time (pulse) is probably one of the most important attributes of the finest musicians. This is one of the best purchases that I have ever made for the advancement of my abilities as a musician, and for $6.95 you can’t afford to not have this book in your library.
    Also check out a post that I wrote called A Rhythmic Epiphany which will give some ideas to consider when using the Starer book (for both Internalizing Pulse and Rhythmic Identification).
    Derek Reaban
    Tempe, Arizona

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