Many times we go to perform and we practice with our accompanist beforehand. During the practice the timing and breathing is off and we and our accompanist get frustrated! This article will help you to get that timing right on so there isn’t any confusion or frustrating spots. In short, you’ll be able to have a wonderful experience performing.
Always, Always, Always use a metronome.
From the very beginning of practicing a piece. The clicks might get annoying, but it’ll help you keep beat and be able to find and play the rhythms in the correct spots. It’ll help you find your weaknesses in the piece so you can play them at a slower tempo and work up to the practice tempo.
If you start a piece and you mess up the note, or rhythm of the piece, you must start slower. Practicing with mistakes can lead to a lot of problems. When you can play it all the way through WITHOUT making mistakes, then you may move the tempo up.
It really does make a huge difference!
Practice with the Accompaniment
This will help you so much prepare for a performance! What has helped my students and me the most is to listen to the piece (flute with accompaniment) before actually playing the song on the flute. Then once I play the piece and continue to listen to the same track, I’ll start playing with it. This helps the brain so much with breaks, pauses, the flow of the piece, tempo, dynamics, etc. It really does make a HUGE difference. Listening to the piece is just another way for our brains to comprehend what we are trying to learn.
If you have a hard time feeling the beat, you are allowed to tap your toe. Tapping your whole foot as a flutist can be very tricky and distracting. It could even also set you off balance – we don’t want that at all! Practice tapping your toe to any music you hear, especially the piece you’re going to play/playing. Please don’t tap it during your performance unless absolutely necessary though 🙂 This can be distracting for someone if you are on a stage in front of them.
The “Muting” Game
Once you’ve practice and played your piece about a million times, you should be really good at keeping the beat. Now It’s time to test yourself. Have someone with you hold the metronome. Start playing your piece with it and have them turn the volume down (don’t turn the metronome off) for periods of time with you continuing to play. Have them turn it up at random and see if you’re still with the beat. This will show you where you speed up and slow down – spots you need to be a little more careful about.
I hope you take time to practice these techniques. Then you can say “I know how to improve my timing”. You will become much more proficient in your counting, timing, and overall music technique.