For the longest time I did my best to avoid a metronome just like I’d avoid a geometry test. I was not a fan of either. But, with age comes wisdom and I’ve come to understand and really appreciate all the ways a metronome can help you become a better musician. I’m still no fan of geometry, but let’s explore the power of a metronome!
Why use a metronome?
If you don't know what a metronome is, a metronome keeps a steady constant tempo for us. The more a musician uses a metronome the more accurate their rhythm becomes. But it helps with more than just rhythm. Practicing with a metronome can improve, speed, technique, jam sessions with other musicians, and band practices.
When do I use one?
That's the coolest part of the power of a metronome- you can use it all the time! Whether your practicing a drum beat, strum pattern, bass riffs, or solos, a metronome always comes in handy. Use this when learning a new song or even just trying to revisit an old tune. I love using one when I’m doing warm up exercises to help me hit every note accurately.
Where to start
If this is your first time trying a metronome check out this website! Metronome online is a fun interactive site that will help you get started using a metronome, and even document your practices. There are plenty of great apps to download on your phone too. I’ve found that starting my metronome at 60 BPM can be the most effective. If this tempo seems too fast, slow it down to a comfortable tempo, maybe 50 BPM. If it seems too slow, just try it! Sometimes the challenge of a song is to play it slower, not faster. If you’re trying to learn a shredding solo start at a slow tempo and speed up the tempo in increments of 4 BPM each time. If you know the tempo of the song you’re trying to learn, see if you can play along at that exact tempo.
If you're still not sold on the power of a metronome, lets put things into perspective. Did you know that every song you listen to is recorded to the beat of a metronome? We don’t have to figure out the angle degrees of an isosceles triangle- that would just be obtuse! Just start practicing hitting a note every time you hear that beep, and you’ll be grooving in no time!
Chances are you’ve met a guitar player who’s said they’re “too good” to play in that band. Or maybe a singer who’s just “too talented” that they prefer to play solo. I remember being new to music and hearing these people talk was daunting. How could I ever learn to be that good? Well, if you’re letting someone else’s ego intimidate you- STOP! The truth is no musician is too good to play along with another. Jamming with other musicians can only make you better. Let me reiterate- you cannot get worse at music by playing with other people, only better! To encourage you to start finding other musicians, I’m going to share how working alongside others has made me better at my craft.
Check out what else is out there
Ok. As a guitar player I admit, I naturally want to seek out other guitar players. But some of my most innovative playing has come from jamming with other musicians that play different instruments. When you’re working with a drummer you’ll quickly find that rhythm is all that matters. Drums don’t have melody or notes like A-sharp. So the one thing that drums and guitars can do together is rhythm. Once you start listening to music from a different perspective you can add a different texture to your playing. Seek out guitarists, bassists, drummers, mandolins, and banjos. I’ve had the most fun working with a friend that sang and played cello!
Same instrument, different approach
It’s inevitable you’ll want to hang with a friend who plays the same instrument. Find out which of you knows the coolest songs, or the hardest riffs? A bit of healthy competition is great. At the same time, take this opportunity to learn from a fellow drummer or guitarist. You both might know your major scale, but what if you play it different ways? Often times I’ll find myself jamming with a guitarist that has a different taste in music. If you’re a punk guitarist, you might learn something cool from a metalhead!
Teaching and learning
“The student becomes the teacher”. If you’re new to your instrument, you can clearly see the benefit of jamming with other musicians. But maybe you’re starting to get a little better at guitar and you know somebody who just bought his or her first one. Go jam with them! Teaching somebody how to play an E chord is a lot different than just playing it. You have to look at your instrument a different way. And drummers! Try teaching your guitar player a beat. Learning a new instrument, even just the basics, can be challenging and fun. It’s all music and the more you know, the more you can apply on your own craft.
Band Dynamics hosts a Jam night once a month. So if you’d like to start jamming with other musicians, let us know! You can get in touch with us here. If you’re really excited about meeting other musicians why don’t you check out our upcoming rock in? We’ll be rocking through the night. You won’t want to miss it!
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