Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by mlongano, Mar 21, 2008.
Can the use of a metronome help improve your speed?
I think it can help monitor it. Like a scale when you're trying to lose/gain weight. But sometimes it's easy to get caught up in a number and too much focus is on that. Ironically playing slow and focusing on efficient use of the muscles is what can really helps speed. A metronome can't hurt your time either.
But it's more important in developing a sense of time and rhythm - helping you hold a tempo, without speeding up or slowing down.
Speed (being able to play fast) is not important. Keeping time - playing steadily at all speeds - is what matters.
Speed ability improves naturally the more you play, as your fingers get stronger and more flexible. You don't need to address it specifically. (You can if you want, of course, but other musical skills need your attention more.)
But a firm sense of time usually needs conscious development and attention - because our natural sense of time is flexible. Our minds operate at different speeds depending on the task involved. Eg, we think faster when improvising than when playing a simple chord sequence - so external (real) time slows down when we start improvising. We're not aware of that until we play with a metronome - and the metronome appears to be slowing down!
This is probably due to increased adrenalin. But I've also noticed it when speaking while I'm playing. I can be playing a simple rhythm to a metronome, but if I start talking to someone (eg explaining something to a student) while playing, the metronome appears to slow down. I think I'm keeping a constant rhythm, but clearly I'm not.
In short - yes, use a metronome, but use it to test and to challenge your own sense of time. Eg, have it click on beats 2 and 4, not every beat. Don't let it give you too much information; don't rely on it for every beat. Learn how to feel beats that aren't audible, esp at slow tempos.
if you don't play in time, what you're doing is developing your speed around the easy parts. - human nature.
In my early days I never bothered. As I've played with a metronome I have significantly improved my playing speed and control. It helps you pay attention to it when playing with others as well.
hell; even mr miaggi knew to have that scrawny little kid paint his fence, sand the deck and wax the car for the repetition excercize.
and I guess practice makes perfect right? I am starting to practice to a metronome out of pure necessity for recording and when I play, I am fine until I start singing, then it seems as if the metronome gets slower like you explained and I am ahead of the beat. This is HARD to get perfect.
I guess my question, to which I probably know the answer (yes) is will practicing to the metronome help me keep time better when playing without one for gigs?
Also, I would assume using a drum loop would be just as good to use as a metronome?
Yes, in that it helps you focus on problem areas you may not have been aware of (as you mention).
I suggest practising at a tempo that is too slow. If you can hold things down at that speed, you'll be more comfortable at normal speed. Playing slow encourages you to relax and "sit back" on the beat.
Try to feel as if the rhythm backing is carrying you - you're sitting in it like a passenger, not driving it. Or (another metaphor) I find when I'm right in time it feels like settling back in a comfortable armchair, as opposed to being perched on the front edge of a seat... It's a definite relaxed feeling (even at fast tempos), as opposed to a tense, nervous sensation.
Drum loops are a lot more fun that that damn clicking noise! The downside is that they can give you too much information, stopping you from having to create your own sense of the beat.
A good exercise (if you can set it up) is have a footswitch or pedal that can turn the drum volume off (while the loop keeps going) - so you keep playing over the silence for a few bars, then turn the drums back up and see if you are still in time!
If you don't have such a set-up you can of course turn the volume down with a hand, while still keeping time. Perhaps try it as a simple clapping exercise to begin with.
When you get it right, you should get a sense of how it feels to hold a tempo. It's conscious at first, but the more you do it the more subconscious it gets - which is of course how you want it. (In a live setting, before it becomes automatic - or even when it does - you should still listen all the time to the drums, and feel your way into the pulse. Think where every note or chord you play slots in with the drum rhythm.
Practise AS SLOW AS YOU CAN STAND IT!!! Like 50 bpm... PAY ATTENTION and make each note as clear as possible, like pebbles in smooth pond.... do 1/4s, 1/8's, swing 1/8's, triplets, 16th's, 16th triplets, 32nd's... work through whatever scale or arpeggio you're learning, up and down the neck...
You can speed up the bpm a bit as you go; somehow, doing things really really slow seems to cement the rhythm and feel and position into our brains - then when you hear a passage in a tune, it will be very natural to hear a 16th note pattern against it(or whatever). Also, as it's already been mentioned, your tempo will be natural, precise and ingrained, FOREVER!
Good luck, Flash!!!
John Seth Sherman
Thanks, a lot! Lately I have been struggling keeping rhythm to a click//drum track as I just found out that it is necessary to be able to do this in order to record properly.
I guess I just need to practice practice practice. Starting slow like you said, and slowly getting faster.
It seems that the speed at which I can play is inversely proportionate to the speed at which I practice. Same goes for timing skill, the slower I practice, the better I get.
CLose, but not quite.
To quote John Petrucci, "perfect practice makes perfect".
Of course, a metronome is the best tool to ensure your practice is "perfect".