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Beat Arrhythmia

The student with beat arrhythmia understands rhythms and can play at various speeds. But their sense of beat is not reliable. The beat will consistently be ever so slightly out of place.

Beat Arrhythmia: A Pat on the Back

Metronomes are no use if your student isn’t able to feel, hear or see the beat as they play. Adding a pat on the back or shoulder however, can help them to develop that sense of pulse over time.

Steps

  • Choose a piece your student can already play reasonably well.
  • Start the metronome at an appropriate tempo.
  • Tap her back or shoulder in time with the metronome and then count her in.
  • Keep tapping in time, even if she wanders from the beat a little. If she’s very far from the beat, try slowing the metronome and starting again.
  • To go a step further for very stubborn Beat Arrhythmia you can notate the beats on the score. Help her to find where each pat was and put a little X in the middle of the staff to represent it.
  • Repeat this at many subsequent lessons and gradually she will find the beat more easily.

Beat Arrhythmia: Bucket Drummer

Drumming is a fantastic activity for students with Beat Arrhythmia to help them internalise a sense of pulse over time. Why buckets? Because it’s more fun, and when things are more fun, they’re more likely to get practised.

Steps

  • Give your student a bucket, pan or plastic container.
  • Ask her to start a steady beat and keep it going. She can choose the tempo, but it has to stay the same throughout.
  • Begin to play along with your student’s drumming (play a piece she’s currently working on).
  • Stop playing or crash into the keys if her tempo wavers.
  • Repeat until she keep the tempo steady throughout your playing of her piece.
  • Swap places and start up a beat for her to play with.
  • Aim for her to get through the piece without straying from your tempo, although don’t keep going too long if she’s getting frustrated.
  • Assign practice bucket drumming with YouTube clips and ask her to make a note of any performers who sped up or slowed down her bucket drumming.