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  1. #1
    Ok, I had a lesson last week and my teacher said in no uncertain terms my main struggle should be rhythm, specifically melodic rhythm. (I say "should be" cuz I was rather oblivious.) When I told my daughter, a middle schooler, what my teacher said, she agreed adding that I'm also tone deaf! LOL.

    So obviously I can't go by feel right now. But, after serious practice, will I ever be able too? Will I somehow someday just get it? How many of you actually have an internal timer counting beats while you lay out the notes? How much effort do you put into learning a lead sheet?

    Its kinda driving me nuts. I'm getting obsessed. But i dont want to get too obsessed! Will there be a time when I look over a lead sheet without bringing on a breakdown of some kind? How well will I learn this stuff in time (no pun intended)? I can't imagine I'll be able to sight read music as well I do a book, will I?

    How "second nature" should sight reading, learning the charts, etc. feel? Ive such a long way to go, I'd just have to have an end game in mind.

    Thanks.

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainLemming
    Ok, I had a lesson last week and my teacher said in no uncertain terms my main struggle should be rhythm, specifically melodic rhythm. (I say "should be" cuz I was rather oblivious.) When I told my daughter, a middle schooler, what my teacher said, she agreed adding that I'm also tone deaf! LOL.

    So obviously I can't go by feel right now. But, after serious practice, will I ever be able too? Will I somehow someday just get it? How many of you actually have an internal timer counting beats while you lay out the notes? How much effort do you put into learning a lead sheet?

    Its kinda driving me nuts. I'm getting obsessed. But i dont want to get too obsessed! Will there be a time when I look over a lead sheet without bringing on a breakdown of some kind? How well will I learn this stuff in time (no pun intended)? I can't imagine I'll be able to sight read music as well I do a book, will I?

    How "second nature" should sight reading, learning the charts, etc. feel? Ive such a long way to go, I'd just have to have an end game in mind.

    Thanks.
    It's not clear from this post exactly what you're unable to do as well as you want.

    I have the impression that musicians with great time feel play as if there is a metronome beating in their heads and each 8th note has its own identity.

    My impression is that my internal metronome works on the easy stuff, but gets overwhelmed if there is simply too much unfamiliar syncopation.

    When things get rough, I have to slow down and figure out the rhythm. Sometimes it helps to tap my foot in eighth notes. But, I notice that some great readers don't tap at all. I've been told by some that I should be tapping at half speed, but I've seen top pros tap at high speed (quarters at 280 bpm or something like that).

    If you're trying to read Twinkle Twinkle, it should be second nature pretty soon. Frank Zappa's music, not so fast.

  4. #3

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    Well I’m no rhythm machine either, “time” is a challenge for me.

    Use a metronome.

    Also - FYI - music majors are required to drill rhythm training- sans instrument - using hand clapping and verbal expressions (ta-ta-ta-ta, Dugga-dugga-dugga, etc.)

    do you know how to perform quarter, eighth, sixteenth notes, plus triplets using clapping or counting? Staccato vs. legato etc.?

    if not, then start working on those.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainLemming
    Ok, I had a lesson last week and my teacher said in no uncertain terms my main struggle should be rhythm, specifically melodic rhythm.
    I think your teacher may have meant something not yet mentioned in this thread. By the rhythm of melody, he or she may well have been referring to the rhythm of the melody line itself rather than beats to the bar. One of the hardest things for most of us to do is get the subtle syncopations and timing of melodies that are peppered with combinations of dotted notes and rests of varying values (which is common in jazz, especially bop heads). Triplets make it even harder, especially when one or more triplet beats is a rest. The essence of a melody, whether written or improvised, is how it ebbs and flows over and around the beat. Without the proper rhythmic relationships among the notes, the melody is there but it sounds starkly mechanical and/or simply wrong.

    It’s hard enough for a beginner to learn a melody note for note. Throw in timing that goes beyond straight 8th notes and few can make it sound right without hearing it played properly and relating the score to its proper rendition. Being able to do this from a chart you’ve never seen before, especially if you haven’t heard the tune enough to know how it’s supposed to sound, is what separates studio pros from the rest of us. Many very good players just learn to play what they think they see as fast, consistently etc as they can. So they learn to play it wrong very well.

    For me, the most important thing to do is to listen to a recording of the exact melody you’re learning and see how all those dots, rests, etc on the score translate into what you hear. I usually tap or count the quarter notes while doing this. It takes a lot of repetition and it gets very boring (and often frustrating). I used to do this with a single phrase, lifting the needle across the grooves again and again for what seemed like hours. It helped me a lot, but I’m still no Tom Tedesco and never will be.

  6. #5
    Thank you all for your replies.

    I do hand clap the rhythm but needs to be better. I can do so to a metronome at slower speeds too.

    I can't sing notes to the rhythm, especially while clapping.

    Playing the notes while counting is a disaster. Not all songs, songs in straight 8ths with some syncopation sem more natural.

    Finding the one and counting along to a song, hearing where notes land, hearing how the rhythm section helps in this regard is coming along.

    Its like all the pieces are kinda ok in isolation, but only in isolation.

    Going forward I will seek out the counts in a tune. Listen more intently how the melody, comping and lines utilize it. Then try to translate to my own playing.

    Also seems, from reading through your comments, that the extent to which I develop this sense is kinda personal. Methodology exists, just need to find the right one.

    Again, thank you all!

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainLemming
    Ok, I had a lesson last week and my teacher said in no uncertain terms my main struggle should be rhythm, specifically melodic rhythm. (I say "should be" cuz I was rather oblivious.) When I told my daughter, a middle schooler, what my teacher said, she agreed adding that I'm also tone deaf! LOL.

    So obviously I can't go by feel right now. But, after serious practice, will I ever be able too? Will I somehow someday just get it? How many of you actually have an internal timer counting beats while you lay out the notes? How much effort do you put into learning a lead sheet?

    Its kinda driving me nuts. I'm getting obsessed. But i dont want to get too obsessed! Will there be a time when I look over a lead sheet without bringing on a breakdown of some kind? How well will I learn this stuff in time (no pun intended)? I can't imagine I'll be able to sight read music as well I do a book, will I?

    How "second nature" should sight reading, learning the charts, etc. feel? Ive such a long way to go, I'd just have to have an end game in mind.

    Thanks.
    i don’t know if this helps but here’s a video I did on this

  8. #7
    I do find this very helpful! Thanks! Great lesson at the right time. I'll start dividing the bar this evening, as you've suggested.

  9. #8

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    Melodic Rhythms for Guitar, by William Leavitt.

    Jim Snidero, Easy Jazz Conception for Guitar.

    Lennie Niehaus stuff too.


    just a few tools…

  10. #9

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    "I used to do this with a single phrase, lifting the needle across the grooves again and again for what seemed like hours. "
    Nevershouldhavesoldit

    Hi, N,
    You're giving away your age, N! You ever wonder how many albums/needles you've worn out in your past life? For the younger among us, this was the way our generation learned new tunes and licks. A real walk down memory lane!
    Play live . . . Marinero

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainLemming
    Methodology exists, just need to find the right one.
    You can get there. We're not all music geniuses so don't be hard on yourself about reading being difficult. Your reading will progress as you progress. I have been playing jazz and reading 16 years and I don't really sight read. I can sight read ok if the lead sheet is simple, but I mainly use reading to be able to figure out tunes. If you need to while you're learning, go on youtube and find demonstrations so you can hear how it goes or hear and read how it goes. Again, you don't need to be so hard on yourself. Good advice to learn all the rhythms up to 16th notes. That is very important. I would also pick tunes with simple but good melodies and focus on those because that is a step that you can achieve, but also be able to sound musical. Tunes like So What or Blue Monk.
    Last edited by Clint 55; 11-16-2021 at 06:00 PM.