Practicing with a metronome is an essential part of mastering rhythm. A metronome can help build timing, consistency and musicality. Getting used to the feel of practicing to a steady pulse will also help prepare you for performances and recording sessions. While most musicians use metronomes in a straightforward manner, there are several techniques you can use to challenge yourself further when practicing with a metronome. Here are five ways you can do this with the Metronome by Soundbrenner, or the Pulse/Core:
As much as metronomes help to improve rhythm, some musicians end up relying too much on them and using them as a crutch. This invariably translates into messy playing whenever a metronome is unavailable, such as during improvisation. To train your internal clock so that this doesn’t happen, try removing beats while still staying in time. For example, you can remove beats 2 and 4 while keeping beats 1 and 3. This forces you to compensate for the lack of a steady pulse in order to stay in time.
As musicians, we are often asked to play in specific tempos during sessions or rehearsals. Other times, we may be asked to provide the rough bpm for a specific song or section for the other band members. Therefore, it is important to develop your sense of rhythm and tempo so that you can easily estimate the bpm that you need to be playing at. This is similar to perfect pitch but for rhythm, where you can instantly tell what bpm a song is in just by listening to it for a couple of seconds. To practice this, simply load up any rhythm or melody and then make a guess as to what tempo it is playing at. Next, open your Soundbrenner app or wearable and tap 3 or more consecutive times. The app will tell you what tempo you have been tapping at, and whether your guess was correct. If you do this enough times with different songs, you will be able to develop an impeccable sense of rhythmic timing and sensitivity. Try practicing this at least a few times a day. If you own a Soundbrenner Core, you can even do this when you’re bored or out and about by simply tapping 3 times on the watchface.
It is easy to stay in time when you are playing fast. Slower tempos will exaggerate each beat and make rhythmic variations much more obvious. Make sure you remember to practice slowly so you can familiarize yourself with every note.
If you want to improve your sense of timing on your instrument, try setting your subdivisions so that you have more time in between each click. For example, if you are playing eighth notes, try setting your subdivisions to quarter or half notes so that you have to work harder to stay in time and prevent yourself rushing or dragging. This will train you to not lose the beat even when you don’t have a click or vibration to fall back on.
While practicing along to a click works fine for scales and exercises, it isn’t very musical. In reality, you will most likely be playing along to a drummer during real performances. So try playing along to drum loops instead so that you can get used to what it feels like to play with a drummer. If you don’t have a hardware drum machine, our app allows you to customize the sound of each beat so you can make your metronome sound more like a drummer. Simply go into app settings -> metronome sounds, and select from a range of included samples, including kick, snare, tom, hi hat and cymbal sounds. You can also easily find free drum loops to download online, and most DAWs come with a bundle of loops you can use right out of the box.
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