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Blog overview

Rhythm, timing & metronome exercises for guitar – Part 3

Team Soundbrenner, in Music insights
Feb 08, 2022 | 3 min read

This is part 3 that concludes the series about “Rhythm, Timing and Metronome Exercises for Guitar”. You can read part 1 and 2 here if you haven’t. In part 3, I will tell you about the importance of using the metronome not just to speed up, but also how slowing down can be beneficial for your music development. We’ll also look at other benefits of integrating the metronome as a valuable companion in your guitar practice. 

metronome exercises guitar

Using the metronome to increase speed

Metronomes are the tool to reach out for when it comes to develop speed. As shown, it is not recommended that you start practicing at full speed. Usually, you will want to take your time practicing at a slower tempo and gradually increase it. But there is a method that you can use to increase your speed without rushing in. Remember, play as fast as you can, but never play sloppy. 

As an example, let’s say that you have a section from a piece of music that’s using fast alternate picking scale runs: 

  • Set the metronome to a comfortable tempo and practice the part until you play it accurately – i.e. 80 BPM. 
  • Increase the tempo until you find yourself struggling a bit to play as accurate as before – i.e. 84 BPM. 
  • Back down 2 BPM and then practice playing there for a while. 
  • Go back to the BPM you started struggling with in the first place. This time however, if you are still having a hard time playing the part, don’t back down the metronome speed. Instead, increase it by yet another 2 BPM (to 86 BPM, i.e.). You will struggle a bit more but try your best to stay there and play as accurately and clean as possible. 
  • Back down to the BPM you were having issues with the first time (to 84 BPM, i.e.). Hopefully, you will feel a bit more comfortable playing at this new tempo. 
  • If you feel you need to relax and clean up your playing, back down a bit more and work on whatever is necessary. 
  • Repeat the same steps until you feel more confident in new and faster tempo – i.e. playing at 86 BPM. 

This method works because you are able to feel where you are struggling and figure out what needs more work. Playing with a metronome also prevents you from slowing down on more difficult passages. The slight tempo increments also help you to play increasingly faster and with more precision. Playing fast takes time to get accustomed to, both physically and mentally, and persistence is key. 

metronome exercises guitar
Using the Soundbrenner Core’s metronome to build up speed

The importance of slowing down

Now that you’ve read about how to build up speed using the metronome, learning to slow down is equally important. It is necessary for building better technique, whether working on better alternate picking, legato, sweeping, tapping, strumming… you name it. Take your time with the subtleties of the movement itself to develop good muscle memory. Form the correct movements to avoid building bad habits that will give you a hard time later on.

In the same way that you use the metronome to speed up, playing slow also helps you not to rush tempo. So, playing fast and slow is equally important. 

Studio quality time

Playing to a click track (a metronome reference inside a DAW) can be a daunting task. To the unseasoned musician this will cause discomfort to yourself and for others in your band.

Keeping up with tempo is always important and this time it is no different. As common practice, all the other musicians record their tracks referring to that same tempo you are now hearing on the click track. And if you are dragging or rushing, you are more than likely ruining the song. This involves more takes, more time, more money, until you get it right, under a nerve-wrecking situation. 

Fortunately, you can save yourself the trouble by practicing with metronome at home. Because of the increasing accessibility to software, you can even practice recording with a click track using a free DAW. Then listen to yourself playing in a recording.

Not only this is a great way to assess how you are sounding overall, but also to double check how good you are with your time keeping skills. You can even connect a Soundbrenner wearable with DAW to practice with a vibrating pulse.

metronome exercises guitar
Soundbrenner Core connected with DAW

Metronome: a measure of progress

You can also use your metronome practice as a measure for how your practice is progressing. Basically, it provides you hard evidence for how close or far you are from your goals – i.e. how accurately you can play a scale or song section at the reference speed or tempo. This is a clear indicator of how much work you have ahead of you. 

It also helps you to manage your practice time more efficiently according to the difficulties you are experiencing on a given passage that still needs work. And as you observe the evidence of your progress being shown on the metronome screen, and that you are reaping the fruits of your hard work, this will motivate you even more to keep practicing. 

In a nutshell

Although your practice sessions will not require the usage of a metronome all the time, you should definitely use it to develop musical and motor skills like the ones mentioned on this post. Hopefully, throughout this three-part “Rhythm, Timing and Metronome Exercises for Guitar” series, you got a good idea of how to use your metronome for guitar practicing. Whether for developing your internal timing, practicing scales, develop speed, and even to learn songs or sections of it.

Take these suggestions and try them in your practice sessions. Keep in mind that incorporating a metronome in your guitar practice will only lead to you being a better musician. 

About the author:

Pedro Murino Almeida is an Award-Winning composer with the musical project Follow No One, expert musician and experienced music teacher. He maintains a blog called Beyond Music Theory with the aim of providing tools and instruction for beginning to advanced music students and those wishing to learn about music theory, how to use it and improve their songwriting and music production skills. 

Soundbrenner is a company dedicated to helping musicians stay focused on what truly matters: their music. By creating innovative devices, such as Soundbrenner Pulse and Core, our goal is to deliver the best possible practice experience for musicians. Click here to find out more.

Got a question about Soundbrenner wearables? Reach out to us at [email protected], we’re happy to help!

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