For every organist there comes a time when it is hard to keep a steady tempo
while playing. Usually this situation is with the piece which has lots of
changes in rhythms and rhythmical figures. Some organists believe in value of
using a metronome to help you keep the correct rhythms and tempo. In this
article, I will share with you my take on how the metronome should be used.
Let me begin by saying that the metronome is a great way to check the desired tempo indication. For example, if you don't know what is the exact meaning of Andante, Moderato, or Allegro, you could check the metronome marking for that tempo. This way you will discover the composer's or editor's suggested speed for concert performance of your organ piece.
However, if you are struggling with playing in time, it is better to use
different techniques and strategies than a metronome to help you overcome this problem. The thing is that if you practice with the metronome and constantly listen to its beats, not you but the metronome dictates the tempo.
In other words, if you are automatically following the metronome, you are not
learning to play in the right tempo. Instead, you are using this tool as a crutch. Think of it this way - are we going to learn how to walk, if we use a crutch? Not likely. The same is with metronome and your ability to keep a steady tempo.
If you really want to learn how to play in the right tempo, not to slow down
and not to speed up when it is not necessary, you should try a different
One of the best ways I found which helped me and my students to play in a
steady tempo is to count out loud the numbers of the beats in the measure. For example, if the meter is 4/4, and the main notes in the piece are quarter-notes, you could say the words ''one, two, three, four" while playing rhythmically challenging episodes.
Until you overcome this problem, it is important you count out loud and not in your mind because while playing and just thinking of the beats you might get carried away with music and forget to count. So force yourself to count out
If there are many eight-notes in the piece, try subdividing the beats, like "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and." Likewise, saying "one-e-end-a, two-e-end-a, three-e-end-a, four-e-end-a" is a great way to learn to keep the tempo in sixteenth-notes. Counting out loud and not in your mind also allows you to feel better if you are speeding up or slowing down.
If you run into problems when there is a change between sixteenths and triplets, go back a few measures and try to practice repeatedly the connection
between the episodes (always counting out loud, of course). This will allow you to keep the steady pulse when there is a change in rhythmical figures.
Use your metronome for checking the correct tempo but do not play along with
the metronome. Instead, if you are struggling with keeping a steady tempo, count out loud the beats and subdivide them. Remember this tip in your next organ practice.
By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe
organ? If so, download my FREE video guide "How to Master Any Organ Composition" in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music: http://www.organduo.lt/organ-tutorial.html
Would you like to say "Thank You" to us? Buy Us Coffee.
Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Do you have a unique skill or knowledge related to the organ art? Pitch us your story to become a guest on Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.