Hi there! Hope your day is going well! Today's blog is about the quarter note. Yep. The quarter note. It can be mundane, predictable, boring, yet steady, consistent, and reliable. It's all about perspective. So why is the quarter note so important and valuable but overlooked? Well, let me tell you about a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a friend of mine who is an excellent drummer. I had asked my friend about how he practices on improving his timing and he explained that he uses a metronome, which I figured he did and I use one as well. However he threw a curve ball. He said that he practices everything at 40 BPM. Everything. I understood slow practice because I do that but I was curious about the number "40". I asked him about the 40 BPM and he said:
"Our bodies are designed to lock in at 60 BPM (60 seconds in a minute) and multiples there after (120, 180, etc...). When you practice at 40 BPM, it forces you to pay attention to the beat and not rush."
As soon as I got home I tried it and sure enough, he was right. (I'm willing to give anything musical that I have learned a try so that it won't be head knowledge but knowledge through experience so that I can think on my own terms). After a week, I must say that it was very relaxing. I noticed that my feel and time musically was heightened.
So one day I am practicing my scales and I am at 40 BPM and practicing them in eighth notes, eight note triplets and sixteenth notes. Then it hit me. There is so much space in the quarter note!! The quarter note is solid and it won't move so there is no need to rush at all!!
With that being discovered, I go on to sight read some music and in reading, I get another revelation: Once I get the understanding of the space that the quarter note has, I will understand the different combinations of divisions and sub divisions within the quarter note. Now I'm looking at the music differently. A quarter note has become a building block. A letter. A seed.
The power of the quarter note has changed the way I play and listen to music. There is no need to rush. In the quarter note, there is plenty of time and space!! Enjoy it!!
P.S. Try practicing at 40 BPM!! I would like to know what you have experienced doing this. Don't discount a musical theory because it may not make sense intellectually. If you try it out first, then possibly it will make sense afterward.