In the last five years of my teaching, I have emphasized the importance of subdivision for performers.
I have told my students to place themselves in the subdivided beat that they need to be in before they begin playing. That usually means one rhythmic denomination smaller than the one they’re actually performing.
Subdivision prior to playing is the remedy for many challenges beyond rhythm. It produces more precise beginnings and better tone quality, intonation and evenness.
Ask any professional musician about subdivision, and that person will probably say that it is one of the most important aspects of his or her playing.
My conducting colleague and friend, Kevin Noe, is a major disciple of subdivision. He has made me see the light on this vitally important aspect of performance. I use this concept in my own score study and with all ensembles I conduct.
Remember, it’s not subdivision while you play, it’s subdividing before you play!
This article originally appeared in the 2017 V3 issue of Yamaha SupportED. To see more back issues, find out about Yamaha resources for music educators, or sign up to be notified when the next issue is available, click here.