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.


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.

What’s The Best Practice Method For Me, A Hobbying Or Semi-Professional Drummer?

Hi all,

I wish to begin this article with a Thank You to all who have visited my blog and read my article titled, “Practice Simplified” ( This article dealt with the topic of “what to practice” and what is the force of correct guidance we should be in touch with to yield the desired results from our practice sessions – Music. In this follow-up article, I am targeting at a particular group of drummers who are playing drums on an amateur or semi-professional level. You are still studying in school or have a day job. You are either 1) playing drums for your own enjoyment, 2) playing drums with a band on weekends, or 3) playing drums on gigs on weekends and getting paid for it. Time is understandably limited for you to enjoy some personal time flailing on the drums to your heart’s content. However, here is one suggestion that can help you overcome that problem of limited time to practise. This suggestion connects with the concept of making something a part of your everyday routine so that you do not see it as an added responsibility or chore to shoulder.

In today’s world, the 24 hours we are given are largely taken up by something that we have to do in order to survive. It is not necessarily something that we enjoy doing but we still have to do it to eke out a comfortable existence. As such, personal time, which is very important to the overall well-being of an individual is sadly sacrificed. If we think from another angle however, why do we allow this to happen? Are we not in control of our lives? If we truly are, we will find that we can actually make time for pleasurable pursuits in the midst of all the work, personal, and family-related responsibilities we go through daily.

Let us apply this to practising a musical instrument. First, you need to ask yourself these few questions:

1) Am I learning a musical instrument out of personal choice or because I am forced to do so (especially applicable to young music students)?

2) If the answer to the above question is that you are learning your chosen musical instrument out of personal choice, then are you enjoying it?

If the answer to question 2 is Yes, but you are tied down by work, study, extra-curricular/social activities, and you want to get better at your instrument, read on.

If the answer to question 2 is Yes, but you do not think it necessary to practise and improve, stop reading this article, and continue on  usual.

If the answer to question 2 is No, then stop reading this article because it will not apply to you anyway. Do something else that you enjoy doing.

The secret to productive practice for the super busy student or working professional is incorporating practice into your daily routines. You agree that you enjoy drumming right? Drumming, even just playing on a practice pad, can be therapeutic, is it not? If you agree to this, then practise the drums in between your everyday tasks. Work on anything that you feel needs sharpening SLOWLY and without anything to distract you. Go to a quiet space where you can be by yourself and enjoy practising. Most importantly, make records of your progress – record with your smartphone, portable a/v recorder, or jotting down in a notebook. This will bring focus and direction to your learning journey.

For those who can actually set aside some time away from daily tasks to sit down and practise, a good organisation of your practice routine with goal setting is the best way to yield desired results over time. Noted drumset educator, Mike Johnston, recently provided a solid guide to maximizing your time practising in his article for the January 2014 issue of Modern Drummer magazine ( I highly recommend that you read this article, watch the video, and download the PDF document. If you cannot do 45 minutes at a stretch as Mike suggests, shorten it to 30 minutes and do more cycles with enough rest time in between. A couple of my students have started using this method and they are reaping the benefits.

As with all successful regimens, discipline and consistency are key. Please remember that discipline is NOT a negative word. It simply is the commitment to do an activity with the same sense of conviction, enthusiasm, and passion regularly, and probably a deeper sense of all three things over time. In other words, if you still love drumming and enjoy practising, the discipline will naturally come to you. You do not have to look for it, it will come to you.

I hope this article can be of help to you. More power to you!!