1 Thing You Need to Know: Time

We all understand that keeping time is important, but what’s the one thing you need to know about time? It will make or break you as a musician.

    People without Time

    If someone can read music well, play by ear, and is a virtuoso, they’ll do well in music. However, if they can’t keep time, none of that matters. In fact, no one will want to play with them because of the lack of their ability to keep time. That may seem like an aggressive statement, but think how you would respond if you were trying to create music with someone who can’t keep time

    It doesn’t need to be a professional setting either. Think if you were trying to sing a song (for fun) and the person accompanying you was speeding up and slowing down. Would that be difficult to sing to? Absolutely!

    Even though we don’t need perfect time to have fun, it’s important to be as good as possible. You’ll have a better time and those around you will, too.

    An Example

    I want to share one more example about the importance of keeping time. When I judge for an audition or competition, those who play in time tend to be the top performers. In fact, if someone can play in time, and their dynamics are lacking, they’ll get the call before the person who plays well dynamically, but can’t keep time. If I could bring you into these situations, so you could listen to all the saxophone players, it would be easy to hear the difference.

    A Learned Skill

    Luckily, the ability to keep time is not something you have, or don’t have, at birth. Just like many parts of learning the saxophone, you can develop this skill. Yes, you can learn to improve your time.

    The Secret

    This is simple, but you may not like the answer. The answer is the metronome. Many beginners despise the metronome and will avoid using it. They state they can play better without it.

    This is actually not true (even though it may feel like it is true) because the metronome will always be right. Every time you’re wrong, the metronome will tell you you’re wrong. And, it consistently lets you know.

    What We Do

    Our lessons are set up so you know how to use the metronome and receive all the benefits. We use the metronome while we play scales and exercises. It sounds simple, but it will get you started on the right foot. If you use the metronome from day 1, you won’t have the same issues with the metronome as others might have who don’t use the metronome when they are a beginner.

    The Benefits

    Not only will you be able to play in time (and more people will be interested in playing with you), but there are other benefits as well. One significant benefit is speed. When you play with the metronome 95% of the time, your fingers will learn how to play evenly. When your fingers are even, then your top speed increases. Think of it this way.

    A car with egg shaped tires is going to go much slower than a car with round tires. Our fingers are naturally “egg shaped” when playing the saxophone, but using the metronome will round them out, increasing how fast you can play notes on the saxophone.

    Let us Know

    Let us know what you thought of our first post in the 1 Thing You Need to Know series. In addition, please let us know other topics that would interest you and we’ll add them to our list. Thanks for reading, and start getting the benefits from using a metronome!

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