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Thread: Metronome use question???

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    Default Metronome use question???

    I have been trying to use the metronome to practice but I am confused. I have a mental block about it. I set the metronome single beats and do a scale it makes sense to me. Play one beat on the click and the click should not be too audible as you are playing on top of it. But then you play a tune with quarter , eighth , sixteenth , whole notes I get confused. Of course that is what I am trying to practice the tunes to keep steady time. So I have usually went to backing tracks to make myself practice rhythm and timing. I almost find myself waiting for the beat of the metronome and then playing the back beat. Such as in Bluegrass the bass or guitar play 1 and 3 and the Mandolin playing 2 and 4 beats. I have even caught myself applauding on the back beat of others clapping. Not on purpose. It seems like I just dont have a good understanding of it. So when playing tunes with varying types of notes how do you manage? I do want to practice my timing as I might have a tendency to start moving faster and slower depending on tune. Sometimes when I think too hard when playing things I have a tendency to mess things up. That is what this feels like. I know I need to break the playing down, slow down and analyze the tone and timing but while playing I keep worrying about the click in relationship to the notes and forget what note is next etc. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    Keep working with it. You need to get to the point that you're not thinking so much about it, instead you're just synchronizing your actions in time with it.
    ----
    I did think of one suggestion that might help you over the hump a bit. Find a friend who has good timing and knows how to use a metronome. Your friend can play steady up and down strokes and you can try to synchronize playing up and down strokes in time with your friend. Then, he or she can turn on a metronome and the two of you can repeat the process. That's just an idea that might help you get used to how playing with a metronome should feel using quarters, eighths, sixteens, triplets, etc.

    The bottom line is that you have to be able to synchronize with your friend to make this work -- and playing in time with others is the whole point of playing in time with a metronome anyway.
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    I suggest working with the metronome without the mandolin to get the hang of it. Set it at a slow tempo, maybe 60 bpm. Then count out loud with each click, 1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4 etc. Once you get that down, add eighth notes. 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and... The numbers come on the click, the word "and" comes between the clicks. Click(1)-and-click(2)-and-click(3)-and-click(4)-and.
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    Steady beats are an essential feature of life. Your heartbeat works whatever you do. Can you walk while you talk or sing? Then it's only one step to using the metronome. Walk and say "one, two" along with your steps, yielding quarter notes. Now say "wanna, tuna" instead and you got the eighth notes. Make a mix of quarter and eighth notes by saying "wanna two, one tuna" etc. The walk is the metronome.
    Last edited by Bertram Henze; Jun-02-2018 at 12:37pm. Reason: spelling
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    Now Bertram, in addition to making excellent points, has given you a really good exercise there ... and to make it even more similar to working with a metronome, if you live in a populated area, the next step would be to practice that exercise while walking in step with another person. Maybe someone just ahead of you on a sidewalk, in a shopping mall, or someone who is walking or hiking with you.

    Though a person sometimes feels more stress when confronted with beginning music practice in time with a metronome, it's really not a much different task than marching in time with others while singing or shouting a marching ditty.
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    Additional verbal tricks for dividing time can include 1-e-&-a-2-e-&-a...for 1/16th note annunciation
    Or Mississippi Watermelon, with each syllable emphasized
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    I tried to use different metronomes. What really worked out nicely for me was picking up an old Alessis SR-16 drum machine.

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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    Now Bertram, in addition to making excellent points, has given you a really good exercise there ... and to make it even more similar to working with a metronome, if you live in a populated area, the next step would be to practice that exercise while walking in step with another person. Maybe someone just ahead of you on a sidewalk, in a shopping mall, or someone who is walking or hiking with you.
    That's beginning to sound like a Monty Python thing.

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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    “Mississippi watermelon” sounds much more appealing to me than “wanna tuna”!

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Ludewig View Post
    That's beginning to sound like a Monty Python thing.
    Hey, Monte Python had great timing.

    My point is, it's one thing to discover that you actually do have rhythm, but another to synchronize with people or things apart from yourself.
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    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    I suggest installing Drum Genius on your iPhone/tablet etc.

    A great app and learning how to play to real drums is easier then a metronome...and a heck of a lot more fun!

    There are lots of tracks not just jazz but some good country ones funk etc..

    Here's a YouTube about Drum Genius

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  21. #12

    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    If backing tracks work for you, I don’t see the problem. The goal is to get good at playing with other musicians, not with a click track. If you use the iRealPro app, you can change speed and key, too.
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    I use Chordbot on a Samsung TabA. Or a Taktel mini. A click really cuts through, but sometimes I just want a Boom-chuck bass.
    With Chordbot I can set the bass for a 1-4-1-5, or a 1-4-5, chord progression at any given key at any given bpm.

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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    +1 on a drum machine app. Chord Pulse is a good freebie. Lots of different rhythms to choose from.
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    I dunno. That drum app is cool, but it might be a lot to wrestle with right off when one is just trying to sync up with a steady beat.

    One thing that helps me is to set the volume of the metronome rather loud. Like a backup musician would be sitting next to me loud.

    Another thing is to be careful about foot tapping. Some say don't tap while you are metronoming, because you are trying to synchronize with an external reference, not your own (as yet untrained) reference. Worth a try.

    Others say that you should learn to synchronize your toe tap to the metronome and then play off the tap. The advantage here is that you use more of your body in expressing the rhythm. You feel it more places. The risk is when your tap accelerates you will follow it. Worth a try.


    I would also recommend playing with a human every now and then. Someone to play backup chords on guitar or something, just to gets some experience synchronizing with a person.
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  28. #16

    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    I vacillate a little on this subject. On one hand when training on the rudiments of rhythm, I may think it's best to have a clear crisp, click or something equally simple and straightforward. But then in real life one must be able to weed out the beat/groove from the mle that is a tune/song. Sort of like hearing a melodic phrase in the context of a tune. Who's to say it isn't better for some, to flesh out the beat/groove/pocket in context? It is more of a real-life situation. But it wasn't until now that I thought of the validity of rhythm in context. But as it's one of the three major parts of music, (melody & harmony being the others) I guess I ask why would it not be? One of the biggest challenges I face is folks, not necessarily newbies, that can't find the beat of a fiddle tune. Because many times the beat doesn't jump out and hit you like a hammer, as typically there's not a kick drum in sight. I know not everybody can play ensemble all the time. But as it's been said here many times, there's really nothing better, in so many ways.

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    While it is essential to play in rhythm by following others or a click, it is also important to show the rhythm, both to the listener and to the other players. And practicing showing a rhythm helps one to play that rhythm.

    An example, in practicing, is to take a straight-time fiddle tune and play it in a dotted rhythm: long---short-long---short-. The reverse is just as useful as a practice technique: short-long---short-long---etc.

    But even while, or especially while, playing the tune normally one can practice emphasizing the main beats, playing the notes on the main beat a bit louder than the others. Professionals always use a hint of pulse to show the beat driving the tune, letting one note out of every four (in a typical fiddle tune) stick out a little. Considering that all these tunes are dance tunes, helping the dancers (listeners) is the goal.

    Also consider that some notes will naturally stick out, through accident or because they are strong on the instrument. You should ensure that the right ones stick out.

    For a beginner, this would be playing the tune slowly but with a major accent on the main beat, which is the first note of each measure, and every 4th note in a reel--because notes are grouped under or above a beam, if 8th notes, or two beams if 16ths, the first of each group is the note to accent. If a solid 1/4 note, it gets accent, if a pair of notes under a beam, the first one gets the accent.

    When you are used to this you can lighten up until the accent is subtle. You can combine accenting with body motion, not necessarily foot-tapping, actual dance moves are better--easier when standing but nodding, or other upper-body motion is good, too.
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    Registered User Cindy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    I absolutely could not use a metronome until someone on the internet said start by letting each click stand for an eighth note (or whatever is the smallest/shortest you are dealing with). If you have 8th and quarter notes in the same tune (don't they all?), go with one click for each eighth, 2 for quarter. It's very mechanical but it gave me the feel for what I needed to do. Before I tried that, I always got mad because the metronome was speeding up and slowing down on me! (I knew objectively that wasn't true but it still was frustrating and made me quit.) After a while I could move to letting a quarter note be one click and 8ths go between clicks. If I get lost I just go down stroke on each click for a while until I get in a grove and then go down up to capture 8th notes. I hope that makes sense. Trip-a-lets seem to take care of themselves, as do dotted 8ths. I'm not going to worry about 16th notes for a while. You can over think some of this stuff.
    PS I use the free metronome you get when you Google "metronome."

  31. #19

    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    If you can't vocalize it, you can't play it. Set the metronome to a slow speed (60 BPM). Count 1, 2, 3, 4 (repeat) on the beat (quarter notes). When this is comfortable, count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and (repeat, 8th notes). The numbers always land on the click.

    You can try vocalizing 16ths when you have mastered 8ths. Count 1 e and a, 2 e and a, 3 e and a, 4 e and a with the numbers always falling on the click. You can also try triplets. Count One 2 3, Two 2 3, Three 2 3, Four 2 3. 16th note triplets can be vocalized as One and 2 and 3 and, Two and 2 and 3 and, Three and 2 and 3 and, Four and 2 and 3 and.

    If you don't have a scale, tune or whatever memorized, it's probably too early to practice against a metronome.

    This video should help get your started https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5_27Gc28ls&t=264s

  32. #20

    Default Re: Metronome use question???

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Steady beats are an essential feature of life. Your heartbeat works whatever you do. Can you walk while you talk or sing? Then it's only one step to using the metronome. Walk and say "one, two" along with your steps, yielding quarter notes. Now say "wanna, tuna" instead and you got the eighth notes. Make a mix of quarter and eighth notes by saying "wanna two, one tuna" etc. The walk is the metronome.
    This totally reminds me of a workshop I once did where we practiced polyrhythms using our body. Our feet would step out one rhythm, and we'd use our hands and voice (using the syllables Ta Ke Ti Na) for another rhythm on top of it. The idea was the rhythm comes from the body and must be internalized. It was really cool and I wished I could do more of these.

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