Lesson Focus: Articulation and Pulse
Find the music for this etude HERE.
This is a great study. It is melodically interesting and the marked dynamics provide a sense of melody and accompaniment that I found fun to explore and I would encourage you to do the same. By and large the most valuable fundamental to ensure is working for you in this study is the relationship between the articulation and the pulse. We will explore this idea more deeply in this post.
It is easy to lose the sense on pulse in this etude as there is a tendency to play the articulation with the weight on the first note rather than the second note. This can also encourage the player to cut the second note in each group of slurred notes short which causes the etude to rush and become uneven.
STEP 1: Record Yourself
Once you have all the notes in order (and this takes effort as the key signature is a bit nuts!) record yourself playing this study as if it were a performance. (Without your metronome although hopefully you used it when you learned the notes). What do you hear? Is the sense of the beat really happening where it should or does your study morph into the version I notated below?
STEP 2: Practice feeling the pulse where it should be. Use the metronome and practice the study so that each group of slurred notes has a shape that leads to the second note. The first note should be less than the second.
It is important to understand the layers of complexity when using the metronome. You want to be using it to help you feel the pulse rather than providing a crutch that you follow along to.
- Understand the rhythm. This rhythm isn’t complex as it doesn’t really change throughout the study. If you feel you need to count it and clap it a few times to feel comfortable there is absolutely no shame in doing this, in fact I would always encourage it.
- Understand how the articulation fits into this rhythm. The articulation is offset from the natural tendency to play two slurred notes in a strong-weak pattern. In this etude they need to be weak-strong. Practice singing the rhythm while using a metronome to get the sense of how this articulation feels in relation to the big beat.
- Use the metronome while you play the flute. Take care to make sure you are actually feeling the pulse as you play. The metronome is there to keep you on track but it should not be the leader. You are leading the feeling of the pulse and if what you are doing lines up with the metronome you can feel confident you are doing it evenly.
When I recorded myself playing this one for the first time I was horrified to hear how unevenly I was playing and how much I was rushing. Be patient with yourself and don’t underestimate the difficulty of this lesson focus. As always, I am happy to help you if you get stuck and would be delighted to answer any questions you might have. Thanks for reading!
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