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Beth, how about a series on timing drills ?   Could be fun !   :-)
8 Responses
Posted: December 2, 2011
Last Comment: December 3, 2011

Posted: December 3, 2011
Thanks for all the tips and advice !  I had just started in the Essential Elements book with my "skype" lessons....but then I had to put them off until after the holidays because of the storm, lost pay and now the holidays and busyness that comes with that.

Jo,  Yeah, it's just me on violin, a keyboard and a couple of guitars for most of the song....but the instrumental parts are just me and the keyboard.   I have made good headway on that one piece but it took me longer than it should have for sure.   Sometimes I do subdivide but mostly I rely more on my ear than on reading the music, which is probably what has caused me to be a bit slow in this area.  If we're doing a song that I'm not familiar with I'll go find it on youtube and listen to it until....then I go to the music and play it.  Sooo...what's probably happening is that I'm not paying as much attention to the written music and relying more on my memory of what I "heard". 

I'm working on some pieces for our cantata, which is this coming saturday....It's pretty simple for the most part but there are some tricky spots at transitions and timing (6/8 in one piece) and the last piece breaks into the Halleluiah chorus and all the 16ths that come with that.....me on violin, a piano, flute and the choir....and we're performing it at a local mall...yikes !   I just got all this music last sunday.....had to site read off the cuff as it was handed to me just before we got together with the choir to practice....I actually got through that pretty well, so I "can" site read, much better than I used to....but I want to get even better. 

I took a peek at that Wohlfahrt book....started at the bottom....yeah, Beth...that should help me out !  lol !  Already copied it to my computer and I think I want to print a few of those out and work on them as soon as this cantata is done !  Thanks Beth ! 

Hi Patricia,  When I got my first look at the cantata music I sat with the CD of the music running and tapped out the notes with my finger on the pages as I listened...but.....there are some important parts that are hard for me to hear with all the noise of the narrator (he's very loud)..., choir and orchestra all playing.   There's a few spots I'm concerned about but I think the flutist playing beside me will help keep me in time I'm sure.  She conducts the local band in town here (it's the oldest continuously playing band in the USA)....I'll follow "her" !  I had seen those videos a while back when Beth first posted them.  I think I was the one that had questioned her on the 2/3 timing because I had a piece I was working with that rhythm in it.  I did not know about Diane's rhythm ruler though, so I'll go check that out !  Thanks for the links Patricia....and I'll also check in the Element's book and try out your suggestions for those pages. 

Having never worked in a real "teacher/student" setting, I didn't know if there were such things as timing drills or exercises...I just assumed that there must be some way a teacher works on timing and rhythm with his/her students.  Just wasn't sure how.....  <:-)

Posted: December 3, 2011

Thank you Beth, yes, I was also thinking in Essential Elements and do with your hands as the Conductors do in front of the orchestra. In Book 1 Page 21 for time signature 2/4, Page 27 for 4/4. Page 28 for 3/4. Or in Book 2 -Rhythms Pages 8 thru 19. (I have marked in my book next to Exercise No. 90 Hooked on Syncopation, that this is on Disk Two Track #20).

If you don't have Essential Elements books with you, go to VL Library, in Tag Words to your right, select “Rhythmic training“. Beth has 4 videos under this tag, two of them are very interesting: "Three Against Two"


and "Developing Good Rhythm"


Also in Violin Lab Resources see Diane Allen's website, then go to Free Downloads and at your left find Rhythms Ruler 1 & 2 for files and videos.

Eileen, I think even professional violinists go back and over these syncopation slurred notes every once in a while. So, probably the above will help you to remember.


Posted: December 3, 2011
that wolfhart rhythmically starts getting really interesting from 86 onwards ;) 

thank you for the link Beth :)

I'll use it for sight-reading practice as you said x

Beth Blackerby
Posted: December 3, 2011
I'm thinking on it. It's definitely a great topic. May be a little tricky showing the graphic elements in video, but I'll see what I can do. I have a few kids who have a devil of a time with dotted rhythms, and unfortunately the only way to improve with those is to practice them, which they don't want to do. Sight reading skills don't naturally improve, unless you start sight reading. For general practice, I recommend reading a new piece a day; something that is substantially under your playing level. The method books like Essential Elements and the like are great for that, since there are so lot of short songs. You can find a host of methods on the imslp website.

I did a quick search and found an early Wohlfahrt method book. Around no. 70 there are melodies with ties and syncopations. It might be a good place to start.

Posted: December 3, 2011
Eileen, sorry if I say something very elementary which you are already doing,
but do you do 'sub-division' of the rhythm already? this can help a lot.

ie: if the piece is in 2/4 do you sub-divid it into 4/4?
if it's in 3/8 do you sub-divide it into 6/8? and so on?

what you are talking about is 'sight-reading' problems, ie: problems in playing a piece which is put in front of you and you need to 'get on with it'
in this case one with 'syncopated rhythm' of course and a less familiar finger-pattern/scale.

Are you the only violin playing this piece?
if you are not don't worry too much if you miss a few notes here and there, the best is to keep going as you will know already, but even if you are the only violin the best will be to just keep going, so aim at getting all the main notes, and leave out the little 'tricky ones' hehehehe ;) in due time those will come 

sorry have probably talked a lot of 'nonsense' (blush)

I'll hand it over to Beth, probably 'best' (and it rhymes too LOL)

Posted: December 3, 2011


Are you talking about a kind of "solfege" to be done with the violin?

Which is the time signature?


Posted: December 3, 2011
Well, one of my weakest areas is in "on the fly" timing.  When I'm given a piece that has a lot of syncopated rhythms in it and I have to play it right there....I can't seem to get it.  Especially if there are slurs between measures with dots or shorter notes.  It messes up my timing quite badly sometimes. 

I was wondering if you had some timing drills/exercises that I could play through as practice pieces that might help me to pick up the timings more quickly when I see them.   It doesn't help for me to sing or hum rhythms to myself because I can do that and stay in time.  It's when I'm looking at the notes and trying to figure out and play them, I usually trip over the dots and slurs. 

I have had a small breakthrough recently with a piece we play on occasion...."In Christ Alone"   It's a piece that is difficult for me to play not only because of the rhythm but the fingering (Eb Maj) and shifts.   I finally figured out that when I had a dot the next note starts on an upbeat....(yeah, I'm brilliant)....so instead of focusing on the notes so much I began paying more attention to my foot tapping and that helped a lot.  Last time we played that one I got allllll the way to the ending instrumental part.......sailing along doing really well......then,  I tripped over a dang dot and crashed in flames...it wasn't pretty.   lol

Does this help ?  

Beth Blackerby
Posted: December 2, 2011
Tell me more about what you had in mind, Eileen.