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Lesson Focus: Rhythmic accuracy.

Find the music for this one HERE.

Originally I found this one a challenge because of the key signature and the very long, very repetitive writing.  The rhythmic challenges are very important, as it’s a common pitfall to play rhythms that oscillate between triplets and dotted eighth sixteenth notes inaccurately.

Begin with the goal of playing this seemingly simple rhythm accurately. It is very easy to fall into the trap of playing the dotted eighth – sixteenth rhythm as if it is a triplet, especially after playing the triplets.  See a noted example of this below.

Another less obvious rhythmic error is to compress the triplets towards the front end of the beat, creating an uneven distribution of the three notes across the beat. See a notated example of this below.

STEP 1: Begin slowly

Resist the urge to play this quickly once you have command of the notes. Playing slowly with a metronome allows your brain the chance to analyze the placement of the 16th notes and the triplet eighth notes within the beat. When you play too quickly too soon you lose the ability to discern whether the notes were in fact played in the exact place they should have been.

STEP 2: Create exercises as you need them

Sometimes slow practice just isn’t enough, especially if you struggle to know exactly how to distribute the beats. Take a moment to consider exactly what you may be struggling with and then create a practice plan to address it. For me personally I noticed that I struggled with two main elements.

1) Placing the 16th note late enough without actually being so late it became a 32nd note.

2) Stretching the triplets evenly through the bar.

I came up with the following two exercises to address my particular issues.

This exercise helped me determine the exact placement of my 16th notes and temporarily eliminated the influence of the triplet. Once this became easy and familiar I was able to add the triplet back in without loosing the integrity of the dotted eighth – sixteenth rhythm.

This exercise is a reverse of the previous one and served a similar purpose. By just playing the triplet rhythms I was able to really understand how it felt to stretch the triplet evenly across the beats. Once this became familiar I was able to put the whole study together again with rhythm that I felt confident was correct.

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