Bar lines are not stop signs!

It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop


Those bar lines can be the most troublesome places for stopping! They often act as a bit of a rest stop (whether consciously or subconsciously!) while the brain figures out what to play next.

We try several strategies in my music studio to help curb this habit. Sometimes I might cover up the music leaving only a bar and a half showing. Students then have to complete this little section without any pausing or stopping.

Removing the bar lines entirely is another option – using tippex or perhaps rewriting a small section of it in music notation software (or by hand – great theory practice!)

Slowing the music right down may help too. If you are playing too fast than you can cope with, there is a bigger likelihood of losing the flow.

A discussion about phrases and ‘musical sentences’ can be useful. Saying a full sentence out loud but deliberately stopping mid way is a good way of reinforcing how odd it can sound. Thinking in ‘phrases not bars’ is a good mantra!

With my flute students we play the ‘phrases game’. We split the music up into phrases using ticks to show the end of each phrase or musical sentence. I play up to the first tick, the student takes over and plays to the next tick and then I take over etc. If the student stops during the phrase they have to play it again!

How do you approach this problem?

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