The beat is king. And it matters not if you are playing bass-heavy hip hop, precise unison metal licks or even an acoustic guitar in a coffee house. If you can’t play in time you are not going to get far. And it just gets worse when you go from playing and practicing by your lonesome to playing with others in a band environment.
The best thing any player of any instrument can do to get better is to practice with a metronome.
Here are 20 good reasons to use a metronome from a great blog post by Eric Barfield. Click the image to go there.
So now you know what a metronome is and why it’s important. Next up is How To Use One… Here are some great tips from Stetina.com Or if you prefer video, check this out.
A metronome or its recording equivilent, the click track are not just for personal practice. The use of pre-recorded tracks to “augment” a live performance is more the rule than the exception with big shows and the downward pressure on what venues are willing to pay for bands has resulted in even lounge and cover acts often using three musicians and a laptop where an 8-piece band was once the norm. And if you are going to have to follow a click for a gig or recording session you had best be practicing with a metronome. Here is a piece I did a couple of years ago about gigging with tracks.
If you are gonna play with tracks, you have to be able to hear the click. This is especially true for drummers. The most common practice for gigs is to feed a click to the drummer and have the band follow the drummer. This is going to mean that the drummer—and anyone else who wants to follow the click—needs a good set of headphones or in-ears. Isolation is important. Remember, you need to hear the click and be able to tune out anything that might be fighting with it. Like that “strum-stop-find-next chord” guitar player.
Whe it comes to standard headphones, you want “over the ear” not “on the ear.” Two of our favorites are the M50 from Audio-Technica and the Shure SRH1540. For in-ears, I have literally used almost every brand out there in the pro space and it is very hard to beat the stuff from JH Audio. The image below links to a review of the JH16Pro models done by Ken “Pooch” Van Druten—a Grammy nominated engineer who has been honored with both the Top Dog and Parnelli awards for his work as a live engineer with Linkin Park and others including Slash, Alter Bridge, Kid Rock, Kiss and Pantera. Click on the pic below to check out that review.
So, once you can hear, you need a good metronome. The good news is that you probably won’t have to buy a dedicated metronome. Lots of tuners include a metronome function or you can use this nifty online metronome for free.
So let’s wrap this up with some fun. Time and sychronization are not just for music. Runners use them in marathon training, too.
And filed under the “Everything Is Connected To Everything Else” heading. Watch what happens over a period of a few minutes with 32 metronomes that are all startd at different times.
And finally a laugh, this was an actual ad that ran on CraigsList from someone who was fed up with a drummer who could not keep time… Among other sins…