Sunday, June 14, 2015

Passing the Pencil Test

There they sit, that great and powerful audition committee lurking behind that huge screen.  Each judge wields with great authority his or her pencil which serves as note-taker and timekeeper.  They wait patiently for someone, anyone, to save the day and play in time!  But no. Contestant after mediocre contestant fails to correctly match the notes with the tapping pencils. And so comes that dreaded response, "Thank you. Next!"  

Sound, accuracy, intonation all matter on audition day, but so does rhythm. No one wins without passing the pencil test! Fail that and you go home with no cigars. Few contestants are rhythmic standouts. But if you play precisely in sync with the pulsing pencils of the committee, you will win great favor!

Why not eliminate that problem?  Which is more annoying, practicing with a metronome, or going home because of poor rhythm? Solos and excerpts played with rhythmic precision is fun work.  Playing can be challenging, but great rhythm should not.  It must be a given. So if your playing is good but your timing is bad, what's the point?