Practicing with a metronome | Metronome – tool for music learning.

What is a metronome?

A metronome is an instrument giving an audible or visual signal to indicate a tempo speed at which music should be played. It is mostly used in the study of a partition, the establishment of an interpretation or research timing (timing) of a musical work.

Practicing with a metronome is the best possible way to learn to keep a steady pace throughout a song, and it’s one of the easiest ways to match the tempo of the piece you’re playing to the tempo conceived by the person who wrote the pieces.

Role of Metronome in partiture learning

In learning a piece of music, a metronomic progression achieves gradually tempo requested and perfecting his instrumental or vocal technique. It consists of several days (or weeks or months … or even years) to play with the metronome a technical difficulty in starting a slow tempo as you climb gradually to bring it to its limits of perfection. This is one of the core activities of any instrumentalist.

On a partiture the metronomic indication generally follows the indication of movement (Adagio, Andante, Allegro, Presto …) and is composed of a miniature figure often note and a number separated by an equal sign (=) : the figure indicates the time unit (black, white, crooked …) and the number corresponds to the scale, usually between 40 and 208 beats per minute.

When was metronome invented?The metronome was first invented in 1696 by the French inventor Étienne Loulié. Loulié’s first prototype consisted of a very simple weighted pendulum. The problem with his invention, though, was that in order to work with beats as slow as 40 to 60 beats per minute (bpm), the device had to be at least six feet tall. It wasn’t until more than 100 years later that two German tinkerers, Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel and Johann Nepomuk Maelzel, worked independently to produce the spring-loaded design that is the basis for analog (non-electronic) metronomes today. Maelzel was the first to slap a patent on the finished product, and as a result, his initial is attached to the standard 4:4 beat tempo sign, MM=120. MM is short for Maelzel’s metronome, and the 120 means there will be 120 bpm, or 120 quarter notes, in the piece played. Like the concept of the minim, the metronome was warmly received by musicians and composers alike. From then on, when composers wrote a piece of music, they could give musicians an exact number of beats per minute to be played. The metronomic markings were written over the staff so that musicians would know what to calibrate their metronomes to. For example, quarter note=96, or MM=96, means that 96 quarter notes are to be played per minute in a given song. These markings are still used today for setting mostly electronic metronomes, particularly for classical and avant-garde compositions that require precise timing. How is Metronome notation? Although the metronome was the perfect invention for control freaks such as Beethoven and Mozart, most composers were happy instead to use the growing vocabulary of tempo notation to generally describe the pace of a song. Even today, the same words used to describe tempo and pace in music are used. They are Italian words, simply because when these phrases came into use (1600–1750), the bulk of European music came from Italian composers. If you have a metronome, to properly appreciate the differences from one tempo setting to the next, you may want to try setting it to different speeds to get a feel of how different pieces of music might be played to each different setting.

Back to School Already?

By Erin Kurt

Even though children may be enjoying their summer, parents are already thinking about “back-to-school” and everything that needs to get organized. What’s the stress-free solution to setting your child up for a truly successful year? Routines and organization. Every household benefits from having established routines but it’s even more important when kids are back at school.

What are some of the problems that can occur without routine and organization?  Here’s just a few:

1)      Children not completing homework

2)      Children losing work

3)      Missing important dates such as field trip payment deadlines, parent/teacher interviews

4)      Stress from always having to react to problems that arise

5)      Poor sleep and nutrition, therefore moodiness and lower achievement in school

The good news is that it only takes about 1 week to establish some solid routines and get things organized so that none of the above issues even arise.

A week before school begins, sit down with your kids and go through the way things are going to work this year. Always ask for their input in terms of solutions.

The first item you talk about should be the homework routine. Decide on a homework zone that will be free from distractions and a specific time that they will always begin. You can ask them to help you organize the area so that they feel they are taking responsibility for their success. What materials do they think they might need at their homework station? Keep in mind that while older children may benefit from doing homework in their bedrooms or in the home office, younger children who need parental support could do their homework in the kitchen or dining room while their parents are preparing dinner.

The next item you’ll want to discuss is the evening routine. I suggest making it a rule that all TVs and computers are to be turned off an hour before bedtime so that you can all get organized for the next morning. Make lunches and gather school supplies together. You can even set the table for breakfast the next morning.

Finally, discuss in which activities your children would like to be involved and ask them to choose one or two at most. Schedule everyone’s activities on a large wall calendar assigning each person a different colour. Internet savvy families may benefit from using a program such as Google Calendar to make this easier to keep track of schedules.

Practice your routines for a week, tweaking anything that may be a problem and then voila! You and your kids will be ready and prepared for a successful school year.

Erin Kurt, B.Ed, spent 16 years as a teacher and nanny around the world. Now, she applies her expertise as a parenting expert and author of Juggling Family Life: A Step-By-Step Guide to Stress-Free Parenting. Click here to learn more about Erin and her simple, loving parenting method, and subscribe to her weekly parenting tips e-zine. You’ll receive a free copy of her Special Report entitled, “The 8 Habits of Highly Effective Parents” when you sign up. 

Parenting by the Book – or Not

By Tara Lindis

Within a few days of arriving back in my hometown of Portland, Oregon after spending the last year abroad, I take my twenty-three month old son over to my sister’s house to meet my six-month old nephew. The joke that gets tossed around in the family is almost a cliché, that no one cares about seeing my husband or me, and we don’t care about seeing my siblings or their spouses, it’s about seeing the children. Except, I am excited about seeing my sister.

In her son’s room, we sit on a quilt with our boys. We catch up and talk about how beautiful and amazing our boys and each others’ boys are, and before long our conversation turns to our favorite books or how one of us read a book that beautifully illustrates exactly what we are talking about.

This book exchange conversation is not new to our relationship; it is not a thing that came out of both of us becoming mothers. When I leave her house with the books I am borrowing in my purse, it is not the first time I have left her house having taken books off the floor to ceiling bookshelf in her family room. It is also not the first time that I tried to reserve a book at the library, found it was not available and then discovered it wasn’t available because my sister had checked it out ahead of me. I find it on her coffee table upon walking in to her house. Her bookmark is in the middle.

I do read and research a lot about parenting, but I read and research a lot in general. Reading and researching has always been one of my better coping mechanisms. My husband jokes that I have my maternal instincts, then I read everything I can get my hands on until I find the authorities who agree with me. I have since learned that I’m not the only one who does this. My sister does it too. For me, the researching habit is part of my process of gaining confidence. Even if I don’t follow all of what I read. In fact, most of it goes out the window, and I can’t think of one book where at some point I didn’t disagree with the author. Parenting, I’ve learned, is not like buying a bedroom set en masse, but more like helping myself to a buffet, where I only have to take what I like.

As my sister and I walk to the park to ease my son’s boredom, we also talk about our parenting instincts, those times we don’t read what to do and instead follow our gut feelings and our child’s lead. Some things can’t be learned from a book, and some things have to be learned from experience. We talk about those painful moments when we didn’t listen to our instincts and ended up sorry and kicking ourselves. I start to realize how fortunate we are that overall, as mothers, we trust ourselves and we trust our children. I’ve overheard other mothers in bookstores talking – how glad they were for that one book so they knew how long to let their baby cry before picking her up or how they wanted to pick their baby up but the book said not to. It’s heartbreaking – not that the baby ended up crying, but that the mother trusted an “authority” -but nonetheless a stranger who had never met her or her baby – over herself.

Plenty of people talk about how important the job of parenting is and far more talk about how hard it is, but after my afternoon with my sister and nephew, I realize that not very many people talk about the opportunity of parenting – to find trust, confidence, and grace in ourselves as we define the kind of parents we want to be. I’m always grateful for how many resources there are for parents, but I’m just as grateful that I’ve learned to trust myself, my son, and my parenting along the way.

We Don’t Homeschool

By Laurette Lynn

I am an Independent Educator.  What is that?  Well to help you understand, the more common term is “homeschooler”.  But the problem is that I don’t think the term homeschooler really exemplifies what we do.   Sure, people are familiar with the term, and everyone seems to think they know exactly what that means but many don’t.

It’s been nearly a decade that we’ve been doing what we do and in my experience it has become evident that most folks really do not truly understand.  Therefore, I decided that a new term was needed in order to better describe what it is our family does (you know, us strange folks that don’t send our kids to school). We tried ‘Autodidacts’ for a while, but it seemed to just cause more confusion!  So, I’ve adapted the term “Independent Education” and that is what we call ourselves around here…. “Independent Educators.”

I still find myself having to use the word homeschool in many conversations but while it is the accepted term, I just don’t like it.  I think it’s unfairly confusing to the typical person who has not had a chance to glance inside the world of home-schoolers. This confusion has lead to the dumbfounded stares from our family members when we first announced our intentions to educate at home, and the ‘tsk’ sounds from neighbors who appear to instantly feel sorry for our poor kids.  It also generates this seemingly insatiable need that strangers have to perform ‘random’ tests on our children to ensure that they are indeed learning something (as if it’s their job to assess this).

The general lack of understanding also perpetuates the never-ending line of questioning about socialization (how will the children learn to get along with other humans if they are ‘homeschooled’), not to mention, the baffled receptionists at dance class, gymnastics and other kids activities when we write homeschool on the line where it says school on the registration forms.  Oh yes, all this is due to a wide misunderstanding of exactly what it is we homeschoolers do.  So maybe it’s time for a new term?

See, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the term itself that causes the misunderstanding. It could be the word home that is confusing and causes people to automatically picture lonely, pale children learning in a make-shift classroom literally inside their house.  The reality is that while some learning does indeed happen inside the house, a great deal of it takes place everywhere and that includes outside the house and among other people. The idea is that the word home means with the family, not inside the house!   But most folks just don’t seem to see it that way. 

Or it could be the word school that makes me uncomfortable and causes the problem. This is because what we do, is not schooling.  In fact, parents such as myself have made a deliberate decision to not use school as a learning atmosphere for our kids. While it’s true we all made this decision for a vast variety of different reasons , the fact remains that we made a deliberate decision to avoid the school environment.  We chose to provide a learning experience for our children that was outside of, different than, and independent of school.   

What my family practices is learning.  It is exploring and experiencing the world, understanding how it operates and applying what we’ve learned in order to learn more and grow and evolve… it is not something that exclusively takes place inside the house and it really has  nothing to do with school at all.

So you can clearly see that what the homeschooler does is really not about schooling nor does it always take place literally at home.   It’s a common term, a most-used term, but in my opinion a weak term.  

The good news is, that by our very nature parents like me are indeed outside-the-lines kinds of people so we can use whatever term we like and there isn’t any board or headquarters that can make us do otherwise.

Call it what you will… in fact I encourage anyone to invent their own terms for their own individual family dynamic… around here, we call it Independent Education.

I realize that not everyone makes the same choice as I did  to avoid school. So just keep in mind, just as there is a great deal to be learned outside the house….there’s lots to be learned outside of that classroom. 

It’s all about learning so, go learn!