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3.  Why is there no audio (metronome sound) on the instructional units?       Back

Originally, there was a click track on every unit.  In the early days when about three bands in the whole world were using RhythmBee, Marcy Zoffuto would mute her computer so the kids had to provide the audible pulse with no assistance except for the visual cues.  Her rationale was simple.  She simply said, "It works better."

Of course, she was proven to be right about that - as she was about most things.  The program not only works better with no sound, the click track version is not even a close second.  Here are some questions that we had to address in analyzing the benefits of visual versus aural tempo cues.

  1. I we think no aural cues is best, why have we used the metronome in ensemble rehearsals for so long and with such a good result?
    • We all used the metronome to our advantage in the practice room for "woodshedding" those difficult spots, so the use in the rehearsal room is a natural progression.
    • Because there was nothing better for establishing and maintaining tempo while the director tended to other matters, we employed the metronome - often amplified to a dangerous decibel level.
    • In starting beginners, it is easy to establish that tempo with an aural cue.
      • However, we are also teaching them to keep their eyes on their music, to listen for the beat, and often we are also teaching poor posture as they focus on the world behind their own music stand.
  2. What is different now if we believe that a metronome is not the best way to establish and maintain a rehearsal tempo.
    • Easily produced and easily projected animation makes it possible for a visual tempo cue to establish and maintain tempo in even our beginning classes.
    • Maestronome, our virtual conductor, is the result of this line of thinking.
  3. On a day to day basis, do we want students to acquire tempo visually or aurally?
    • Of course, we want both senses to be active.  But in the event of a discrepancy between what they hear and what the conductor is indicating, we want them to go with the conductor.
  4. When the ensemble drags or rushes, do we want each individual student to go with what they hear or to exert their personal influence to maintain the correct tempo?
    • Of course, we depend on some students maintaining the tempo and exerting their positive influence on the rest.
    • Ensembles that cannot hold tempo result from individuals feeling powerless to influence the ensemble even when they are staring right at the conductor and know that the ensemble is not with the visual tempo established from the podium.
      • Empowering every individual - not the entire ensemble as a group - to counter the ensemble's rushing tendency is the solution to this situation.
      • It is startling to discover how quickly such a situation can be righted.  (Call or email Dr. Green about this one.)