Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cheaper Ways to Feel the Beat in the Real World

Tactile Metronome Persistence of VisionTactile Metronome Image by Mat_the_W via Flickr
As the Beat Goes On, LaDiDaDi Dee!

As many of you know, I have been doing Interactive Metronome (IM) therapy, but I am a believer in carrying my therapy over into the real world, so I have been looking for little assists.

I already have been using the Beatnik and that helps.  The Beatnik is an interactive drum that shows you when you are falling off the beat.  After my first session of IM, I've gotten a lot better at it.  The one difference between IM and the Beatnik is that there is a delay in the Beatnik so I don't know if my tap is on the beat right at the moment.  I can see a history so that helps a bit.

Of course, there is an iphone app for an interactive metronome that you can tap to a beat and get feedback on the go.

I also use the Bodybeat Metronome to clap hands or play my violin.  I get a pulse on the beat.  Really good with the violin on a slow say 40 beat per minute pulse.  I get a much better bowing...lot more control.

I saw that there is a Tactile Metronome for drummers that gives auditory feedback to let a drummer know if he is on the beat.

The Tactile Metronome uses multiplexed display circuitry to use three seven-segment digits with only 10 IO pins. It accomplishes this feat by turning the digits on and off rapidly, showing one at a time, but doing it so fast the human eye sees solid digits lit up. To take this picture, I shook the metronome in front of my camera. During the short time the shutter was open, 12 digits were displayed. Pretty cool stuff.

I tried dancing but I still can't keep to the beat.  So I will hold off on dance for a bit longer.  But, I did see a game that might work, Dance, Dance, Revolution.  You dance on a dance pad that gives feedback to a game station or a computer.

The whole point of this is to get a sense of internal rhythm.   Rhythm is really important in a wide variety of skills (Academic study on metronome).   Rhythm doesn't sit in one area of the brain but is located throughout the brain; so when you stimulate one, you stimulate others.

Internal Rhythm is really important for vision.  Functional/Developmental optometry has appreciated the value of time/rhythm from gross motor to the saccadic eye movements (small eye jumps) so important to all facets of learning. But, the most important value in metronome work is the automaticity that metronome work induces. It's what therapists call 'Loading the System."  The metronome is also used in reading drills to help a reader keep his place and not skip words.

Rhythm is also important for auditory processing.  It helps the SCAN C scores, especially the dichotic score (when you listen to different input in two ears).

Rhythm also helps a lot with motor skills both therapeutically in diseases such as Parkinsons but also with sports such as golf and hockey.  Apparently Interactive Metronome is rally hot on the PGA circuit.

I think getting a sense of internal rhythm is going to be important not only for fixing physical problems such as auditory processing but for mental illness as well.  There is some research going on with the use of the Interactive Metronome and schizophrenia.

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