Piano And Voice Teacher
If you have ever met me in person, you know I have 3 passions when it comes to music; John Field, any opera from the bel canto period, and music therapy. I’m not talking about sitting in a circle singing “Kumbaya” which is the wrong mass stereotype of music therapy, but the science and reasoning behind what different sounds can do to our brain and body. One particular fascinating topic, which I use the science behind in lessons, is the power of rhythmic patterns and tempo.
Tempo is the pace something is going. For instance, Ariana Grande’s “Bang Bang” has a fast tempo while John Legend’s “All of Me” has a slow tempo. When a person listens to those individual pieces one very interesting thing happens; the listener’s heart rate changes to the tempo of the beat. Sometimes, the pattern of the beat can change entirely as well. Don’t believe me? Take your resting heart rate before you listen to each of those songs. When the song is over, immediately take your heart rate again. I’m willing to bet your heart rate increased or decreased depending on which song you listened to. Now I know your thinking “This is all fascinating, but what does it have to do with 70 or even lessons?” It has everything to do with both.
Beats Per Minute
In my piano and voice studio, I’m a stickler for the metronome. I even carry my very own to each lesson I go to. Just. In. Case. Students begin using it as soon as the first lesson and they never stop no matter the age. This is because for one, it creates musicians who know rhythm and two, it helps keep students calm. The average healthy human being has an average resting heart rate between 70 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). When the heart is pumping blood through our bodies at around 70 bpm, usually we are calm and relaxed. When we are calm and relaxed, our brain is able to receive information without going into a panic state which can lead to negative thoughts. (And we all know negative thinking gets us absolutely nowhere.)
As much as some of my students groan and whine when I break out that metronome, forcing them to listen to the tempo before tackling a difficult passage or even learning a new piece makes the student calm down and it also helps them establish a tempo without going into the negative frame of mind. They end up learning the piece to performance standard at a faster rate than they would have without it. This is all because their heart rate was controlled by a tiny little gadget they didn’t even realize was doing anything at all.
Whip It Good
So moral of this post, the next time you are in a slump with your piece, whip out that metronome (there are many free apps if you don’t have one), set it 70 bpm, and take in that tempo before you start playing. It will take a little getting used to, but I guaranty it will make a drastic difference in your playing and when you practice. Bonus, it will also make your teacher very, very happy. 😉
This article is by Maria McDonald, she is a piano and voice teacher in Atlanta, GA. If you’re interested in taking private lessons with Maria or any of our staff, please give us a call.