At the monthly office hours session, FiddleHed David said, “I can play one tune with a metronome, but on others I can’t do it.” Here are some tips to help you stay in time with a metronome.
Simplify to stay in time with a metronome
Master the metronome by starting simply with single notes. Start with quarter notes at 60bpm.
Stay with that longer than you think. Then, change the tempo. First, see how slow you can play it (this is hard). Then see how fast you can play it.
After grooving with just a single note, slowly add complexity. Set the metronome to 60bpm and play two-note intervals, scales, tune phrases and whole songs.
Here’s a simple ad-free online metronome.
Listen and make adjustments
As you practice playing with a metronome, it’s important to listen to both the metronome and the music you’re playing. If you find yourself falling behind or getting ahead of the metronome, make adjustments to your playing to get back in time.
Tip: Try recording yourself playing with a metronome.
Slow it down to stay in time with a metronome
Identify hard parts of a song. First practice them without a metronome, then with a metronome. Play single reps with a metronome followed by a break. Once you can do that, continuously loop on each small part.
Speaking of going slow, once you hit your fastest speed, you may only be able to increase your speed a little bit each day.
Track your tempos
I like to track a range of tempos that I practice. For example 67-79 bpm. Write down tempos in your music journal. This helps you to make more steady progress.
In addition to a standard analog metronome, there are fancy phone apps. I sue one called Pro metronome that allows you to program gradual speed increases. A fun alternative metronome would be Strum Machine or a similar play-along app. That way you can have a backing band as you speed up. Here’s another whole post on this: How To Use Strum Machine As A Metronome.
Instead of “I can’t do it” say “can’t do it yet.” If you’re struggling to play something with a metronome, it just means that you’re not ready. Either take away the metronome, or simplify what you do with the metronome.
Enjoy practicing with a metronome
Believe it or not, you can enjoy practicing with a metronome. When you get the hang of it, it can actually be physically pleasurable. Another way to enjoy it is to approach it as a game. You’re moving to higher levels of the game as you play.
Rather than beating yourself up, have fun with the metronome!
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- How To Play In Time Course
- How to Improve Your Timing With A Metronome
- Fiddling With A Growth Mindset