I remember when I started learning bg banjo and everyone said my timing was no good and I better practice with a metronome. Well I tried, but I couldn't. Even though I have a nice electronic metronome that I can actually hear with headphones.
Years went by and occasionally I would force myself to practice with the metronome for 5 or 10 minutes. I hated it.
So I started using backing tracks instead. For a while I made my own, and then eventually I found a lot of nice ones here in the archive. And sometimes I would play along with recordings. And of course I did a lot of jamming.
I did that for about 4 years.
Six months ago, my metronome was still collecting dust. But then I changed computers and all my backing tracks were on my old computer. Should I copy them onto the new computer? Well I didn't have time for that, so I decided to use the metronome at least for a couple of days.
But guess what, after all those hundreds of hours of practicing with backing tracks, my timing had improved, and playing with the metronome was easy!
And not only was it easy, it was helpful in ways I had never imagined. Now I can hear every note I play, much better than when playing along with recordings, or when jamming. Of course playing with music is great, but metronome practice is different.
So for about 6 months I have spent at least an hour every day with the metronome. I think my playing has become much more accurate, and definitely much faster. I start practicing at 100bpm and gradually turn it up, to about 140 or 150.
People have noticed that I sound better, and that I can play really really fast.
So my advice is -- don't force yourself to use a metronome if you are still working on rhythm. But definitely start using it eventually. And only use it when playing songs you know very well.
I have actually been spending most of my practice time playing the same 3 songs over and over and over. But the result is I can play ANY song better and faster, not just the ones I practice.
Sunday, December 16, 2012 @5:49:40 AM
Great story. Keep up the good work, playing with a metronome helps in all kinds of ways, from the obvious one; timing to improving your speed capabilities.
Two other areas are:
Playing slowly. Playing fast can sometimes cover and blur your mistakes, playing slowly makes them all too painfully obvious.
Eliminating errors. Very often we can play virtually all of a tune or song but there are one or two tricky passages. The temptation is to speed up when you get to the tricky part, naturally enough we get anxious. Playing with a metronome makes you aware that you've got more time than you thought and allows you to dissipate that anxiety. This can also help with performance anxiety.
Virtually all the top pro's use a metronome and espouse their use.
Sunday, December 16, 2012 @6:13:39 AM
Yes, playing slowly with a metronome is the secret to improving your banjo playing. I start at 100bpm, which feels slow to me. I agree with everything you said -- we notice problems at a slow speed that we do not hear when playing fast.
I know that many people give this advice, but it needs to be emphasized more. I didn't really believe it until I tried it myself.
Jack Baker Says:
Saturday, March 23, 2013 @2:48:40 PM
Which metronome are you talking about, the tabledit metronome or the real metronome timing. Tabledit plays 1/8th notes in double time or 2/4 time...big difference and probably part of the confusion on the forum thread
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