Metronome Mastery for Music Students
Metronome Mastery: Get with the times
A metronome is a device or program that produces a click on a regular basis. Whether your version is mechanical, electronic, online, or in app form, practising and rehearsing with a time keeping device brings awareness to timing and accuracy. Aim for practising with a metronome 15-25% of the time. Here are five tips for clicking with clicks.
1. Don’t flatter yourself. Most students overestimate the tempo they can play a passage at. Identify the hardest part of the song and let that be the tempo to practise the entire song at. Many beginning guitar students, for instance, average 50 beats per minute (BPM). By the way, if there’s a discrepancy between you and the metronome, guess who has to change?
“The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it.” –D.L. Moody
2. What gets measured gets manages. Write down the tempo you can play a section at in your private lesson so you can reproduced results at home and build on it. Take note of any subdivisions of the beat, such as eighth notes. A recommended video series features a drummer playing straight and shuffle time in increments of 10 BPM.
3. The 4 clicks rule. Increase the speed of your section by no more than 4 beats per minute. For example, if you’re drilling down at 64 beats per minute, the next tempo should be no faster that 68 beats per minute.
4. Set the clicks in the mix. Be sure to have the volume of the metronome loud enough to be heard over your playing. It should be authoritative, but not painful.
5. Be a drag. As you get more comfortable with a passage, there will be less resistance in performing it physically, and subsequently, we tend to accelerate unknowingly. To stay on the clicks, we have to “slow” the part and create a dragging sensation to keep it on the rails.