March 4, 2012

6 Best tips! on how to use a metronome.

Metronome use.
6 Best tips and eye-openers.
Jan Bertil Pool
A metronome is a mechanical or electronic device that helps you to keep time.
Here’s a mechanical one. 

I had several but when they fall they start to get irregular, wich is what you most definately don’t want or they don’t work at all.
When you start playing an instrument your teacher tells you you should have one. Then it stays in the gigbag. 
I have several metronomes. One in my bag, one on my desktop and a few on my iPhone and iPad. 

You have probably noticed that when you start using a metronome it is quite frustrating. Maybe the first bar you are ok but then there’s that difficult passage where you have to slow down but the metronome keeps pushing you. You feel realy anxious and stressed because you feel pressured. Als your foot seems to have gone a different path and has no connection to that increasingly ANNOYING ticking contraption. So you turn it of and feel frustrated and confused.  
Learning to study and play or improvise to a click is an art in itself. The steady pulse of the beat should be at the centre of your attention.  The notes you play have to be related to that, the objective sovereign click! Always. When you study you have to realy care about this. Realy, really, really want this! 

This is a small part from an interview with George Benson in Premier Guitar january 2012:
 "What advice would you give to players who want to develop a stronger sense of time? For example, some people recommend using a metronome, and others are completely against it.
No, some people need that.
So it depends on the individual?
Yeah, well Montgomery used it—I have the one that he used! When I first saw him with that metronome years ago, I said, “Wow, Montgomery uses a metronome! Is that why he’s so good? Maybe I better get me a metronome.” But I never used it. I have a good sense of rhythm."

Tip 1:  Wake up first. Do a warming up. Play some music or scales or whatever just to get the mind and hands working together. 
Tip 2: Don’t start to use the metronome right away. First you should get to know the piece you want to play or study. Be like a small child that is exploring a new toy. He shakes it, licks it, hit itself in the head with it just to get to know it. You should do the same. Learn it out of time as Jeff Berlin calls it.  (bass player extraordinaire) What notes do I play? In which position? Stretches? Fast parts? Difficult chords? PLAY WITH IT FIRST.  

Tip 3: Music has to do with time passing. It’s like going down a road at a certain speed. You pass the Gmaj7 chord in the first field but in the next field there are two chords. To get a feel for the duration /‘time-sphere’ you need to practice slowly at first.  
Tip 4: Do not tap your foot. It hardly ever is in sync with the metronome. Usualy it is related to what you are hearing in your head or to what your fingers are trying to do.  This is what causes the anxiety: the discrepancy between your sence of the beat and the actual beat. 
Tip 5: In between the clicks there is time which you can subdivide in eights, triplets, sixteenth notes, quintuplets etc. 
Wayne Krantz calls this The Grid. You should stay on the grid. In recording software you call this quantizing. With one mouse click you pull the notes to the nearest point on the grid. If you don't like that, it's ok. But you should be aware of this. Even Tony Williams sometimes rushed. But be aware that you do.

Tip 6: Phrasing. What is it? Simply put it's placing a group of notes in a bar, or in two bars. Maybe four. Improvise with the metronome and play a one bar lick. Play and practice two or four bar licks. Almost all good music is constructed of a number of symmetrical bars. Question and answer. Listen to Mozart, Bach, Parker or Davis. Everybody does it. 

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