The METRONOME CHALLENGE - countdown to the next rehearsal!!

March 22, 2017

This post was written ahead of a Sym-Phonic Waves Youth Orchestra rehearsal in March 2017.

Well, the countdown to the next rehearsal has begun!! The plan is to work in detail on the Capriol Suite - we will all need to be very fluent with the music for this work. The 4th and 5th movements in particular are tricky. We will also be working on the Holberg Suite



To help you in your preparation for Sunday the 2nd April, I've devised a little challenge - focussing on the 1st movement of the Holberg Suite and the 4th movement of the Capriol Suite. Starting from today (Wednesday 22nd March) you will work on these movements with metronome, starting out at a nice relaxed tempo, so that you can focus on all the details of intonation, dynamics, articulation, phrasing, bow speed, sounding point, sound quality etc. We will then ramp up the metronome tempo gradually every day, so that by Sunday 2nd April, we are ready to work on putting it together with all the other sections!



A couple of "Caution: Roadwork Ahead" markers before we start though....


Holberg Suite - First Movement

There are two ritardandi in the 1st movement of the Holberg Suite (before letter D and four bars before the end of the movement). When you are playing with metronome, observe these rits, but get straight back into tempo afterwards - pick a beat to restart, breathe and go! 


Capriol Suite - Fourth Movement

There are three basic tempi for the fourth movement of the Capriol suite - fast (Presto), faster, and still faster! For now, focus on playing through the whole movement at a constant tempo. 

                                             Metronome Marks

Date                          Holberg 1st Mvt                   Capriol  4th Mvt    

                                      Crotchet=                                  Minim=

22/3                                   100                                          92

23/3                                   100                                          96

24/3                                   108                                          100

25/3                                   116                                            104

27/3                                   120                                           112

28/3                                   126                                           120

29/3                                   138                                           132

30/3                                   144                                          138

31/3                                     152                                          144


  1. Don't panic! If you are not used to playing with metronome, it will seem like Gremlins have taken over the machine, and are wildly fluctuating the tempo, just to mess with your head.

  2. Take a breath and try to feel the groove of the pulse in your body. Then play single bars, with a single bar of rests in between. 

  3. Then try two bars with a single bar of rests in between.

  4. Gradually work up to longer sections with a feeling of 'relaxed concentration' where you are aware of the pulse of the metronome, but also aware of the groove of your own playing.

  5. When you are working at a nice comfortable tempo, use this as an opportunity to play with HYPERAWARENESS of all the details of the music - how long or short are the notes, where in the bow are you playing them, is your intonation centred?

  6. What about dynamics and tone quality?? Use the luxury of a slow tempo to build these details in. This gives your brain a fighting chance of remembering the details when you are playing faster.


This challenge is designed to draw you out of your comfort zone. That can be frustrating, but stick with it, and like MAGIC, you will see results! So, on your marks, get set....PLAY!!


I can't wait to hear how you get on!














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