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Sep 30, 2009 - 1:38:40 AM

149 posts since 8/16/2005

Hey folks. I've found Banjophobic's info quite useful and I'm doing my dangdest to use the metronome. I have a question, though: is it okay that I have to play each beat of the metronome as a basic quarter note on my banjo? In 4/4 time, if I try to play two quarter notes for each metronome click, I get really confused quick. I have horrible rhythm. But if I use that online metronome ( and set it to 8 beats per cycle with an accent on the first beat, I do pretty good -- each measure always starts with the accented beat and my picks are right on the clicks. However, my understanding of banjophobic's post is that musicians set it for four beats per cycle, each click representing a half note in 4/4 time.

What are the cons to my learning rhythm based on an 8-click cycle? Is it about foot-tapping as I increase in speed?

Am I the only banjo player in India?

Sep 30, 2009 - 5:19:52 AM


Northern Ireland

51 posts since 9/10/2009

I have recently started taking drum lessons to exercise my 'inner clock.' It has been most enjoyable and I recommend it if you are interested in learning rhythm theory. The parallels with banjo-playing are really quite striking - it certainly confirms Banjophobic's remark that such attention to rhythm is universal in all music.


'Ya' eat one lousy foot, they call ya' a cannibal the rest of your life.' Dan Torrence, The Big Bus

Sep 30, 2009 - 4:28:18 PM



132 posts since 10/14/2004

Thanks for taking the time to explain in detail.

Oct 5, 2009 - 7:03:49 AM

13420 posts since 3/6/2006

I see many folks dislike the metronome and advise folks not to use one. Well, Thats fine if you choose to use something else, like a drum program, vibrating device,BIAB,etc. But all these things are just extensions of the metronome, which is designed to help your timing. If you choose not to use the metronome in its basic form, thats cool, but please use something-.

Also, As Ive stated earlier in this thread, this whole topic is not just an indorsement of "metronomes", its really about using the metronome to help folks understand what the note values/durations are in music ,and to get a feel for them. Using a metronome is a great way to do that. So, I hope this doesnt turn into a "to heck with metronomes" hijack,please.
Its much harder to isolate a quater note,half note,8th note, etc with some devices and programs as it provides many layers of sounds a rythums to practice with. This is great for praticing solos and backup, but not for what Im talking about in this thread. The Metronome allows one to isolate just the notes, and a basic on/off beat, to identify the duration and where it falls on each beat.

Edited by - Banjophobic on 10/05/2009 07:06:01

Oct 6, 2009 - 2:42:52 PM



199 posts since 1/31/2008

Hi John,

I try using the metronome but I don't think I am using it right. I have asked for a video to be made showing how to play a tune with the metronome, example would
be playing fireball mail starting at 50 and working up to 100 BPM. I think this would be really helpful.


Oct 6, 2009 - 10:28:43 PM


South Africa

540 posts since 1/29/2004

FWIW, our little band recently did some recording in a professional studio and, although first takes weren't all that bad, we decided to do some using a click-track (this is also useful to the mixing-guy when he needs to drop someone in here and there). Now, playing to a click-track is much like playing to a metronome - one finds oneself spending some concentration-time on listening to the clicks and it doesn't come all that naturally to a dyed-in-the-wool unplugged rough band like us. But it proved to be a good thing in general and gave us some idea of our own occasional lack of timing - in particular a tendency to speed-up in some songs.

There was one little trick that the mixing guy used to help us which I though might be worth mentioning here, though - his software was able to provide "rhythm-clicks". By which I mean that the first or last beat of each bar would be emphasized. So a 3/4 time would sound like TICK - tock - tock or a 4/4 would sound like TICK - tock - tock - tock. We found this subtly helpful and it helped us settle into the timing a little quicker. I guess some electronic metronomes might have such a feature?

Damn! No time for vibrato...

Oct 7, 2009 - 1:59:21 PM
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13420 posts since 3/6/2006

Originally posted by Golden

Hi John,

I try using the metronome but I don't think I am using it right. I have asked for a video to be made showing how to play a tune with the metronome, example would
be playing fireball mail starting at 50 and working up to 100 BPM. I think this would be really helpful.



Actually, I did just that a good while back, after posting this thread. Here's the link for it. Its located amonst the LOTW videos:

Edited by - Banjophobic on 10/07/2009 14:07:15

Oct 7, 2009 - 2:19:45 PM

13420 posts since 3/6/2006

[quote]Originally posted by diagonally

Could you provide a pointer to part one of this discussion?

Yes, Ive just found it in the archives and reposted it in thie thread. Look for it now-

Oct 7, 2009 - 2:37:29 PM
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13420 posts since 3/6/2006

I just found the original post about the note durations in the archives. So, Its been posted in a new thread.

update: here it is in this thread( incase the second post dissapears again):

from the very first 'durations" post:


I'll start this discussion first with explaining durations. This is the music term for how long notes last. When looking at a piece of sheet music, for instance, the figured we see (often called 'golf clubs-haha) arent representing the notes in music, but rather the DURATION of a note. The notes themselves reside on the lines and spaces in the staff. In viewing modern tablature, we often see these same duration indication used above the fret numbers in the tab. So, to really get at the heart of what the metronome is doing for you in your practices, we need to make sure you understand how to count in music, and how to identify note durations.

The most basic form of counting in music is the idea that every beat has two main parts- DOWN and UP halves. Patting your foot to a tune is your body's attempt to get in line with this timing. Your foot taps the floor on the DOWN beat, and then rises to the UP beat. So, every BEAT you tap consists of DOWN/UP. This is a very basic concept but crucial to your understanding of how notes are played against this beat.

Next you need to be able to understand and identify how long notes last, to be able to place them in measures. The most common timing in music has 4 BEATS, as a self contained unit, if you will. This most common unit of timing is called, what else, 'COMMON TIME", also refered to '4/4'.
Since each individual beat in music has 2 parts/halves, then to COUNT , you would need a way to express it. We use numbers and letters together to identify the parts of the beat:

1 'and' (1 &)

1 is the downbeat and the "and' is the up beat. To play 4 of these as a unit, or MEASURE, we would repeat this process 4 times:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

In common time, this equals ONE MEASURE...or unit of time.
This is also refered to as a TIMING SIGNATURE. There are many other signatures,or units of measure, besides 4/4. In Bluegrass and oldtime styles of music 4/4 is THE most common, and then 3/4 (aka 'waltz time') and 2/4 ('cut time") and sometimes celtic tunes in 6/8 (jig time).
Since 4/4 is the most common, thats a great place to start understanding how this counting works.

Now lets talk about how to identify how long a note lasts and what to call this DURATION. In music terminology, there have been names given for specific durations of notes. This is crticial to understand in the long run of grasping how to play anything IN TIME. Even if one doesnt know the theory names for these things we are discussing in this thread, its only an omission of nomencalture. You CANNOT be a good player without knowing how to count and identify note durations. you may not know the prper names of these ideas, but you must intuitively 'get it', to have attained good timing. If you dont either intuitively grasp this, or study it theoretically, or both, you wont be able to play in time, which means you wont be able to make songs cohesive and play with others.
So, what are the names of these differnt length notes? Here's a break down of the name of each and how long they last:


This is the longest single note in music. It lasts 4 BEATS. So if you were to play a "D" note on the banjo, you would strike this note and let it ring out for 4 BEATS:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &


This is the nect longest duration. If we cut that big whloe note into 2 even pieces, we get halves, right? So, if the whloe note lasts 4 beats, and we cut that into 2 pieces, each half would last 2 BEATS. We could then play that "D" note TWO times, letting each note last 2 BEATS:

1 & 2 &.......1 & 2 &


This is the next duration. If we took that big whole note, and divided it up into 4 equal pieces, we would have 4 notes , each lasting 1 BEAT. So, to play that "D" note again, we can play 4 of them, each lasting 1 BEAT:

1 &...................2 &........................3&...............4 &


This is the next duration. If we divided that whole note into 8 equal pieces, we would arrive at 8 notes, each lasting 1/2 BEAT. So, we could again use that "D" note for the example. We would then have 8 notes, each lasting 1/2 BEAT. This means playing 2 NOTES PER BEAT.
Many folks express banjo rolls as 8ths, as they flow in roll patterns. To grasp this, look the the beat count, and notes together:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
note note note note note note note note

This is 8 NOTES, played against 4 BEATS. Since each and every BEAT in music has 2 halves, 8th notes would each last 1/2 beat. Think if all this as division. We started with the big whole note, and are cutting the notes in half each time (like slicing a pie). Each time you divide the notes, the time it takes to play the new duration gets smaller. This allows you to play more and more notes in the measure. Lets look at a common roll, in 8ths, as tabbed. I'll put the count underneath the tab. Here's a common forward rool pattern,321:


So, there are 8 notes of this roll, played against a measure.count of 4 BEATS. This means that in order to get this umber of notes in the measure, and have every note sound in TIME, each note must have the same time value. This works out nicely since each beat in the measure gets a down/up half. You just play one note per half beat.

16th NOTES
This is the next duration. This duration is a division of that original,big whole note. We've now cut the whole note into 16 pieces, each played against the beats in a measure. So, to play 16 nites on 4 BEATS, each note can only last 1/4 beat. This means that you would have to play 2 NOTES ON THE DOWN BEAT and 2 NOTES ON THE UP BEAT...4 notes oer one BEAT. Some rolls and licks in bluegrass banjo are 16th notes.


This duration requires you to play 32 notes per 4 beats. This means that each note can only last 1/8 of a beat ! That big old whole note would last as long as 32 of these note durations. To play that many notes in 1 measure, you would have to play 4 NOTES ON THE DOWN and 4 NOTES ON THE UP. this amounts to playing 8 notes per 1 BEAT...4 beats X 8 notes = 32 notes.

there are other durations, like 64th and even 128th. Each one of these durations are 1/2 of the previous. Its very physicaly demaning to play 64ths at even a slow tempo, and darn near impossible at hi tempos, so I wouldnt worry about them in practice.

Each one of these durations Is represented by a figure, in classic music notation. These are the same we use above tab, to show the duration.time value of the notes, as played on the banjo. Here's a good graphic showing the notation graphic for each duration and how they relationship, up to 32nd notes. I couldnt figure out how to cut and paste it here, but this is the link:

Next, I'll show how to use the metronome to identify and practice, all these durations in 4/4 time-

Edited by - Banjophobic on 10/07/2009 18:36:48

Oct 9, 2009 - 3:48:42 AM



199 posts since 1/31/2008

Hi John,

Thanks for the video on using the metronome very helpful.


Oct 9, 2009 - 6:30:03 PM



251 posts since 7/22/2009

Heck, I can't see the point of metronome's. By god, how did Muzo's get on before the metronome and electronic tuners were invented? Another 'you must have to be a good Muzo' piece of garbage being flogged to us. I don't think anyone wants to end up playing with the 'exact' rhythm, or sound like a drum machine do they?

This is may take on this:
Rhythm is innate. Get used to and close to it. Work out the timing required and tap your foot, it costs nothing and is not annoying fact it's quite pleasurable and helps more in the long run just like being able to tune by ear!

Edited by - Stutts on 10/09/2009 18:37:13

Oct 10, 2009 - 7:00:17 AM

13420 posts since 3/6/2006

Originally posted by Stutts

Heck, I can't see the point of metronome's. By god, how did Muzo's get on before the metronome and electronic tuners were invented? Another 'you must have to be a good Muzo' piece of garbage being flogged to us. I don't think anyone wants to end up playing with the 'exact' rhythm, or sound like a drum machine do they?

This is may take on this:
Rhythm is innate. Get used to and close to it. Work out the timing required and tap your foot, it costs nothing and is not annoying fact it's quite pleasurable and helps more in the long run just like being able to tune by ear!

Oh boy, here we go again,haha-. The metronome is a valuable aid/tool. Some need it and some just choose to use it. Some folks like picks and capos, but to say "heck with all picks and capos" is a pretty broad, and somewhat demeaning statement. This thread, again, is not here to say "everyone must use a metronome". So please reserve your bashing for your own thread. The folks that use metronomes and or are learing about them, are on this thread collectively to help each other do so. If you choose to aviod a metronome or sililar device/software, thats your preogative. But dont slight those who do or the device itself, as it has a pupose.

Edited by - Banjophobic on 10/10/2009 07:36:19

Oct 13, 2009 - 12:09:37 AM



33 posts since 6/9/2006

G'day Mr. Banjphobic,
I have found part 1 and part 2 of this thread very useful in understanding how to use the metronome. I thank you very much for your input.
I do hope that this thread expands to part 3, or more to explain dotted durations, and possibly touch on sycopation, bounce etc.
Cheers Pete

Oct 20, 2009 - 12:17:10 PM



198 posts since 10/16/2009

Didn't have time to read this whole topic, but I will say that in my mind, the metronome is a wonderful instrument. It's a guide, to help players with their timing. It is very difficult to work with one who has bad time - believe me, I've had to do it and it's no fun. In my experience, it's always the ones with the worst time who hate metronomes.
Also, if it's good enough for Earl, it's good enough for me .

Nov 10, 2009 - 2:32:42 AM

19 posts since 6/30/2008

Originally posted by Banjophobic

Ok, now that we've established how to basically count and what the note durations are, we can look at using the metronome to improve timing and help indentify the durations. Ive omitted 'dotted' durations for now, to keep things as simple as possible. And Ive also omitted rest durations too-maybe for the last installment.
Ive heard folks in other threads talk about the metronome and comment how its 'not important' to know durations. Its really not possible to play in time without knowing this. Again, many folks have good timing and dont know what the durations are, by title/theory terminology. But they feel how long the notes should be from practice and instinct. If they did not have that ability, playing ideas with mixed durationsand playing playing rolls and ideas in time, wouldnt happen. Its also the same idea behind learing a lick and using it in TIME, in the context of a tune. You first have to recognize how long the duration of the lick is, then where it would fit into the phrasing of the tune. Again, not possible to do smoothly and in time unless the player has the ability to know and feel that it will work 'here' or 'there'.
This is why using a metronome of some sort is invaluable to everyone, especially those who dont have that natural ability at first. Working with it, learning to recognize the durations and then internalizing it, will eventually lead to hearing and 'feeling' time, not relying so much on actual counting. Lets face it, performance speeds, you dont have the brain power or luxury of being able to count everything,haha( plus you run the risk of funny looks from others). Practicing with the metronome will give you the ability to count 'in your head' as an automatic reflex pattern. Its analogous to learning the alphabetic in school as a child. They explain how to combine letters, indentifying consonants and vowels, how ithey sound,and then forming words. Fast forward years dont THINK about saying something in individual letters-you just 'say it'. This is how you must approach playing the banjo in everything you learn. You keep doing it, CORRECTLY, until it becomes second nature and theres not as much conscious thinking as it is reflex and subconscious act.

Ok, lets start with the basic function of the metronome-counting beats. There is more than one way to use it to identify durations and show you how correct your timing is, but lets look at a couple ways here. Let's start with using the metronome to play each of the durations. I'll leave the speed up to you, since folks are at different levels in their ability to do this. Start as SLOWLY as comfortable. Remember speed is the result of practice. Never substitute speed for good timing and tone-I repeat NEVER...ok, im calm,haha. Repeating bad habits, especially timing ones, just means you are internalizing mistakes and bad timing, never a good thing. Lets begin with basic 4/4 time and then we can look at 'cut time'. My goal is to allow you to understand how to count in ANY timing signature. Cut time is just a division of the same unit, 4/4 anyway.

Example 1

Whole note
Lets play the open 4th string as our reference "D" note Set the metronome to your favorite BPM. I'll use 100 BPM as my setting. Play the 4ths string open at exactly the same time you hear a click ( let the metronome get going and just pick the click to begin the count).
Let this note ring out for 4 complete clicks:

D note________________________________________________

In my example here, I set my metronome at 100 BPM, which means my old fashioned pendulum swings back and forth, clicking each time ( a click for each beat, one per side of the swinging motion), a TOTAL of 100 TIMES in ONE MINUTE. This is "100 BPM (Beats Per Minute). If you use a digital metronome you may hear 'beeps' instead of clicks. some models can go silent and just flash a red light. They are all telling you the same thing, be it 'click','beep' or 'flash' of a light. If the setting is 100 bpm, in common time.

Half note

Play one D string open one the 'click', letting it ring for 2 BEATS, then play another D note and let it ring for 2 BEATS( dont forget to start the second note exactly on the 3 down beat, to be in time):
D note_______________________(D note)______________________

So, you can ply TWO D notes in the same space/time as a WHOLE note.

Quarter notes

You'll now play one D note for each click of the metronome, and be playing quarter notes. Remember to start each note exactly on the first downbeat of each beat, to be in time:

So, you can play 4 notes, each lasting one beat each, in the same space as 2 half notes , or 1 whole note.

Now were getting in the beginning of banjolang here. Many folks prefer to tab banjo rolls out as 8ths and in 4/4/ time. This is becouse they nca stretch measures out on printed page and the the notes are easier to read and takes less paper. The measure also look less 'crammed full' of notes and it easier to see. but most steady rolling patterns are actually doubled (see cut time)in real life. We'll look at that next time. Lets stick with 4/4 right now since the main goal here to to be able to use the metronome to udentify any duration, regardless of the signature.

8th notes

Pick the open D string, but now we must play 2 notes per click (2 per beat/click ). This requires more skill as you must play one note per 1/2 beat .Remember that every full beat has 2 parts-UP/Down. You are simply playing a note on each 1/2 of that. Playing 8 notes in a measure is the same as two half notes, or 1 whole notes. Just like slices of the same pie. Each time you slice the 'pie', you get more notes, in the same amount of space, but the duration of each smaller note is SHORTENED by a factor of 1/2.


16 notes require you to play 4 notes per beat-2 notes on every DOWN half and 2 notes on every UP half, for a total of 4 PER BEAT. This requires even more skill and recognition of the duration

Playing 16 notes in this measure is the same as those 8th notes, or two half notes, or 1 whole note. You can play 16 notes in the same space as 1 whole note, 2 half notes or 8, 8th notes.

Lets stop with 16ths. But if you follow this logic, then you can play more notes in the same 'space'/measure( 32nd,64th), knowing that you must SHORTEN the duration of each note in order to fit them in. Look back to the previous post, to see that graphic of how the durations compare. Use the metronome to practice not only 8th note rolls in 4/4, but whole notes, half,quarters, 8ths and 16ths. Find a speed on your metronome that allows you to play each, in time, not feeliing like you are straining to stay with the count. Your abiliity to play at higher tempos depends on you playing slowly and gradually building speed with practice. How fast you are ultimtely able to play, with great timing, depends on your practice time, ability to identify and play durations and your physical limitations. Everyone is physically different and some folks have the inborn ability to play at higher tempos with seeming ease. But the majority of players who can play at high tempos well accomplished this through playing and practicing ALOT. They have recognized how important timing is. Many have used metronomes.You can use the metronome to help you play faster yes, but its FAR more important to let it teach you to play in TIME and be smooth. Its also invaluable to use it to see how you can controll dynamics, while staying in time, practice syncopating (topic for another post) and other more advanced concepts.
Ok, next we'll look at dividing all this up, using 'cut time' as our ruler.

Nov 10, 2009 - 2:40:26 AM

19 posts since 6/30/2008


This posting will go a long way to straighten out a nagging shortcoming - my timing.
If I understand all this correctly, the duration of any given note is determined by the overall tempo, ( "X" number of beats per minute).
Clearing up the fact that the duration isn't a set span of time. For instance a whole note doesn't equate to 4 seconds.
Think I'll actually put a battery in my metronome tonight.

Thank you for your time

Dec 3, 2009 - 9:50:09 AM



88 posts since 5/26/2005

I had a resistance to using a metronome while practicing. I eventually overcame it by considering the metronome as a substitute for playing with others (by keeping my beat "honest"). I think it could be used as soon as a beginner can play an entire song through without hesitation and at any speed. This will keep the song's beat even without speeding up on those easy-to-play areas.


("I returned my metronome to the store. It keeps slowing down on me in the middle of the song.")

Dec 3, 2009 - 10:05:38 AM
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646 posts since 6/24/2008

Here is a reprint of an article on How to Use a Metronome that appeared on Angie's Banjo Website Jan 2008.


I wanted to take this opportunity to think through and put on paper my experience with a metronome and how it has helped me to increase speed and to play with the correct timing particularly when learning new breaks or solos. You may want to have your banjo and a metronome handy. as you read through this. If you have had any of the following experiences a metronome can help:

1. You cannot figure out how a measure or lick is supposed to sound.

2. Every time you get to a certain lick in a song you get lost.

3. You have difficulty playing with others.

4. Your playing does not have the clarity that you desire.

5. There are particular licks and songs that just do not sound like the recording.


Lets first look at your metronome and check 3 things that will make it ideal,

1. Can you change speeds easily with 1 hand without having to remove your picks?

2. Can you hear the metronome above your banjo i.e., does your banjo drown out the metronome??

3. Does the Metronome have a headphone jack or an audio output?


Now let’s talk about what we are trying to accomplish (our goals)

1. We are trying to improve timing.

2. We are trying to increase speed

3. We are trying to increase accuracy-not only accuracy of timing but also note clarity.

Let’s relate the use of this tool to getting in shape. We know that the results of getting into shape, losing weight, being more alert, having more energy is something that is wonderful. The process of getting there most of the time is not fun and is not designed to be fun; it is designed to be efficient.

In the same way, while the metronome may not be an end in itself, the joy of being able to play a song correctly that you have been struggling with for several weeks or months or being able to play a break flawlessly with other people is almost indescribable. So the first step is to think of the metronome as a tool, as a means to an end rather than as an end in itself.

The second step to being successful and motivated is having a way to measure progress. Basically to keep moving forward and be motivated, you need to believe and have proven to yourself that the metronome is a significantly faster more efficient way to learn than whatever you have been doing that has resulted in your inability to play many songs from start to finish. The best way to do this is to keep a log. For example, you may say to your self “You know it took me 6 weeks to play Cripple Creek at a slow speed and I still make mistakes” vs”I used a metronome on Boil Them Cabbage down and was playing correctly at the same speed as Cripple Creek and it only took 10 days.” As in weight lifting we recommend that you keep a log of what you practice, how often you practice and how fast you were able to play each song or exercise. Using a metronome in conjunction with a log will not only help you to progress in slow steps it will keep you in a positive frame of mind as you see progress over time.


Select a piece of music that you want to learn and pick your first measure For this exercise we recommend 1 or 2 measures. STUDY THE MUSIC VERY CAREFULLY Before beginning I recommend that you study the piece of music very carefully to see which notes are being played, which strings are played , the left and right hand fingers that are going to be used and any patterns such as forward rolls in the music. I recommend taking your finger and touching each note on the paper to make sure that your eye focuses on every detail
After studying each measure, to determine how we are going to play it we then play through it 2 or 3 times very slowly. It is important that we think of the measure as individual notes at this point as opposed to licks or patterns. We then set the metronome at lets say around 80 and play through the measure a few times at 1 note per click. The next step is to go fishing.
GO FISHING We now play the music as fast as we are able while still maintaining accuracy .We may play the measure at 80 2 times then 100 2 times 120 twice and 160 twice 200 twice. We are fishing around trying to determine what the speed limit or accurate upper limit is at this time. At this point this is still an exploratory procedure. Once you have found a speed that is comfortable we will go to the next step. This process on an individual measure can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes.


The 2 important things at this stage are to relax and to play accurately. Make an Agreement with yourself that we will spend a few minutes now to have great rewards later.


We have completed all of the above steps which once you get the hang of it may only take 20 or 30 seconds for a particular measure. Set the metronome at about 80% of the comfortable speed you found while going fishing

EXERCISE ONE. Play the piece at this speed 5 times perfectly in a row. If you make any mistakes, start at the beginning. until you play it correctly 5 times in a row.

Once you have accomplished this, increase the metronome speed by 5 and play the measure 5 times in a row correctly. Continue doing this for about 15 minutes NOTE: Because of the concentration, involved take a long break every 15 to 20 minutes. If you start getting tired you may notice that your playing totally disintegrates. You will also notice that after a 30-minute rest all of a sudden you are playing the piece perfectly.

TO SUMMARIZE We examine the music carefully, play it slowly several times, go fishing to determine how fast we can play the piece of music accurately, Gradually increase speed and take plenty of rest periods.

The goal of using a metronome on a piece of music is to discover the hard parts or difficult measures. We basically play the piece from the beginning until we come to a measure that we cannot play up to speed. We then use the metronome to help speed up and clarify the troubled measure. You work with the measure until you can play it faster. You then go back to the beginning of the song and play it until you bump into another hard measure. Keep doing this until you can play all the measures in the song at an appropriate speed. If you are playing with others, this may be determined by the speed at which they want to play it. If you are using jam tracks, you would work with the metronome until you can play the entire song at the speed of the jam tracks.

As you go through this procedure and start putting the measures and licks together you run into other problems. Use the metronome to solve these.

III. SPEEDING UP Breaking through the speed wall

After working with the metronome for a while you will want to test yourself For this reason every hour or so increase the metronome setting 20 or 30 % faster at a speed which you think is not possible and try to play along a few times. Totally relax and play the stings softly. Many times you will amaze yourself and be able to play at the faster speed. This is because you have played the piece so many times perfectly that it is ingrained in you head so solidly that your body goes into automatic. This speeding up also identifies which measures you can play better than others.

As you are working with the metronome you will be saying or thinking things to yourself that either cause you to relax or tense up. For example:
Today is a great day, /This is fun,/ I looked at my log and I’m playing this piece better than I did 2 days ago/ I had a good nights sleep last night/The weather is great/ I’m glad to be alive These thoughts will enable you to relax and play better

I’m cold/ This banjo sounds horrible./ I need to be able to play this song by next week or I am a complete failure/ Gee will I ever be able to play this/ My good buddy can play this why can’t I, I must be a looser/ What if I try to play fast and fail? / What will people think of me? These thoughts will cause you to tense up.

Work on your thoughts and self talk. Positive self-talk will do wonders for your progress and the good news is you can control your thoughts.

V. CLOSING THOUGHTS Once you have reached the speed of 250 on the metronome, where do you go from there?

First play the measure at 250. Second Set the metronome to 125, which is one, half of 250/ Play the piece at 2 notes per click of the metronome. To aid in hearing the beat, count 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 one number per click. Continue on and say 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and Say the numbers with each click. Say “and “in the space between the clicks. Starting with 125 increase the speed as necessary.

Hopefully this gives you more perspective on the use of a metronome. Once again you don’t use the metronome all the time just when you need to speed up or improve accuracy. There are, also, several sources of jam tracks, amazing slow downer computer programs, etc that enable you to play at different speeds and are more like playing with a band. These are great but I would also work with a metronome because a metronome is precise and you can hear it and your instrument clearly and separately when practicing.

Geoff Hohwald

Originally posted by billyshake

Hey folks. I've found Banjophobic's info quite useful and I'm doing my dangdest to use the metronome. I have a question, though: is it okay that I have to play each beat of the metronome as a basic quarter note on my banjo? In 4/4 time, if I try to play two quarter notes for each metronome click, I get really confused quick. I have horrible rhythm. But if I use that online metronome ( and set it to 8 beats per cycle with an accent on the first beat, I do pretty good -- each measure always starts with the accented beat and my picks are right on the clicks. However, my understanding of banjophobic's post is that musicians set it for four beats per cycle, each click representing a half note in 4/4 time.

What are the cons to my learning rhythm based on an 8-click cycle? Is it about foot-tapping as I increase in speed?

Am I the only banjo player in India?

Dec 4, 2009 - 1:24:29 AM



2173 posts since 10/23/2007

Am I the only banjo player in India?

When I was working at a musical instrument company in Japan during 1986, we had Indian customers who were in the luthier business...mostly guitar-building, but I think some banjos were involved as well. I don't have contact with these people now, but what happens if you go into a music shop in a city in India—are there any banjos hanging on the walls? Music stores are always good places for networking.... Good luck!

Dec 18, 2009 - 5:56:13 AM

365 posts since 12/29/2007

Originally posted by papastanley

looking for part 1 ?

A link to part 1. It has been archived but is still available:


Dec 28, 2009 - 2:34:08 AM



5624 posts since 4/25/2008

For those who don't have a metronome and would like to try one out click on this link to find an online metronome.

Jan 27, 2010 - 4:43:57 PM

28 posts since 10/27/2006

Thanks John
this has helped me alot..

Jan 31, 2010 - 6:14:37 AM



138 posts since 11/24/2009

I know a metronome has really helped my playing out alot here lately.Ive been using one when ever i practice or sit around and play.Thanks for the info

Jan 31, 2010 - 12:02:22 PM



138 posts since 11/24/2009

Anyone who doesnt have a metronome just go to google and type in free metronome and there are lots of free online metronomes you can use.Just thought i would add that for ppl who dont have one and wanna give it a shot

Feb 17, 2010 - 9:22:43 AM

154 posts since 6/9/2009

I personally like metronome. After I have figured out left and right hand and can "play" the tune at slow speed, I start my Kmetronom ( and start to practice.
My question is: Is it OK to set metronome to 8 1/8 per measure if most of the notes are 1/8 and 1/16?
It sure feels easier to be on time or is this just another bad habit?

Thank you

All hail the metronome! :)

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