Nifty Idea for Metronome Training

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Jack E, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    I came across this suggestion in a tutorial video for bass guitar players uploaded by Yonít Spiegelman (bass guitar player and teacher) on YouTube, which struck me as being a very useful idea, and one I haven't come across before. I'm sure we've all been told how useful a metronome is in sharpening the accuracy of our tempo, but what Yonít suggests is taking it a step further.

    Suppose, for example, you have a piece which is to be played in 4/4 at 144 bpm. If you set your metronome to half that speed (72 bpm), you hear a click on the first and third beats only; so, if your timing goes a bit wobbly on the second or fourth beats, you'll hear the error when you play the next note, as it will be out of synch with the next click.

    Then, you can take it onto the next stage; setting the metronome to 36 bpm, so you only get one beat per bar - so you have to keep to the tempo, with no guidance, on the second, third and fourth beats, which is clearly more demanding, and will show up much smaller errors in your counting. Or go further still, and set it to 18 bpm, so you only get one click every other bar - which will show up even tiny errors.

    If you have to play a passage of 'um-chuck', and find yourself drifting from the off beats towards the on beats, you can set the metronome to give you a click only on the third beat - or, if playing a piece in 6/8, to click only on the 7th quaver. The possible permutations are endless.

    Any thoughts?

    2nd tenor likes this.
  2. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I have used and sometimes do use a metronome for home practice of both Band pieces and other stuff, they can be helpful and I'm going to try out the suggestions that Jack has made.

    The first problem that I have with metronomes is being able to see them without sometimes being distracted from the (usually adjacent) written music or (always) hear them clearly over what I'm playing - I've tried using an ear piece with it but the sound quality then, from my metronome, is too shoddy to work.

    The second problem that I have with metronomes is the distraction that they cause. You're busy thinking about the music but have your thoughts interrupted by a little box that bleeps and flashes at you on every beat. I tend to try and sort out the rhythms without the metronome going and only switch the box on after I've a clear idea of what something should sound like - sometimes it agrees with me and sometimes it doesn't, see below.

    The third problem that I have with metronomes is reliability. Whilst I'm not playing they're completely reliable and regular with their beats, but when I'm using them to practice that reliability and regularly disappears as they often loose or gain a beat over a few bars. The problem seems to ease with repeated use - it's almost like the box is learning from me - but it's a real mystery :) .
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
    Jack E likes this.
  3. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member


  4. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    Wantage, Oxfordshire
    When I use a metronome I imagine that instead of ticking on the beat, it's ticking the off-beat. So the ticks are on the 'and' of 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and .

    After a while, when you hear a metronome ticking you can mentally choose whether you hear the ticks as on-beat or off-beat.

    It's like the audio version of those optical illusions - a single image can be a pair of faces looking at each other or a candlestick, you know the sort of thing.
  5. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    A pub, Surrey, UK
    One of the things I learnt quite quickly (albeit the hard way) when I first started doing studio "session" work was that the click track (much like a metronome, only a lot louder) was only a distraction if I wasn't playing in time. One I started playing in time, the clicks ceased to be distracting, and actually seemed to "fade" out. I think the same thing happens with a metronome.
  6. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Brian T and Gareth; thank you for those constructive suggestions - I will give both a whirl, as I'm now getting into more complex pieces (well, more complex by my current standards!), and getting the timing exact for quavers and dotted notes is increasingly important.

    With best regards,

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