Creative Practicing With A Metronome

Hi all,

Thank you for stopping by my blog which is a window to my world of drumming: my musical activities, my drum lessons, my thoughts on various drumming and musical topics, my personal reviews on certain drum gear.

In this brief article, I would like to share about one important way of practising with a metronome and its benefits.

Let us say you are already comfortable with playing along to a 1/4 note click on your metronome in a wide enough range of tempos. As you analyze more closely your timing with the click, you would probably notice that the notes in between the clicks are uneven. This is an issue that you must address right away in order for anything you play to feel good. You may be hitting the clicks dead on but that is not good enough, because everything in between is messy and therefore the tightness you seek after in a recording situation for example will not be achieved. You must also address how well you control the subdivisions of the beat with the metronome.

The method:

Try practising with the 1/4 note click displaced.

The first step is to get comfortable hearing the click on the upbeats (the “&” each of beat). Once you get it, try singing a basic groove pattern along with it. Any basic Rock groove would be great for starters. If you able to “groove” well with your vocalizing of the beat along with displaced click, it will help accelerate the process of you nailing the time when you actually play the groove to that same displaced click.

CRUNCH TIME! Record yourself as you practice, hear it back, and take note of where you may be rushing or dragging the groove. Take note of the space you give between each note you play. That is the great thing about practising to a displaced click. You have no choice but to really zoom in on your control over the subdivisions to make sure you are grooving well with the click. Now add some fills! It will certainly feel very awkward in the beginning and you may have to deal with many times of failing to keep the click on the “&”,  and thereby hearing it back on the “1” before you finally get it. It will also feel like you have lost the security of hearing the click on the “1” which tells you if you are playing your fills in time or otherwise. It may take a week or a month but it DOES NOT MATTER. Patience, perseverance, focus, and a winning attitude are what you need to conquer this challenge.

Once you are able to play comfortably to a click displaced to the “&”s, try hearing the click on the “Es” and the “A”s of the beat. Repeat the same process as above. You can eventually work with having the click displaced on the “&” and “A” of the 8th note triplet to fine tune your slow blues grooves, shuffles, and Jazz playing (and it’s very tough!).

Whenever I work on the exercises from the legendary David Garibaldi’s classic book, “Future Sounds” I use the displaced click to zoom in on my note placement and I also develop solo material during my practice that way. All in all, I have noticed a big improvement in my time and in my feel across various styles.

Conclusion:

The above practice method with metronome will ultimately strengthen your internal clock as you have to rely on yourself to keep the “1” in the same place all the time. Moreover, as you sharpen your time with this method, you will be better able to work with computerized loops and sequences which demand total precision from you as well as record great takes in the recording studio. In today’s world of drumming, you will never know when you will be required to work with the aforementioned. It depends on the band/artist you play with and if they incorporate electronics into their music live and/or in the studio. From experience, I will say its a necessity if you want to be a successful working drummer in today’s music environment.

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