Accurate musical timing comes down to playing a beat consistently from measure to measure and from count to count. To do so, you need a feel for the beat. Whether you're soloing or playing with others, developing this skill takes time and dedication. When practicing alone, people have a tendency of slowing down on chords and notes that are more troublesome, and it can be equally as difficult if we're practicing with others who aren't as consistent and need to keep up with us.
To improve your consistency, the metronome is an ideal practice tool. It helps us listen more attentively to the beat, and no matter what kind of music you like or instrument you play, it will make you a better overall performer.
Prior to working with a metronome, it's important to review the music you're learning. Doing so will give you a better idea of what it should sound like, how it's shaped, and where dynamics should be changed.
When playing with a metronome, try moving your body in time with the music. Movement is important since it helps you keep time more accurately. This will also help you become more capable of synching to the beat of the metronome with your instrument. In fact, you might not even notice the metronome as your skills improve.
Concentrate on chords, measures and notes that are problematic. If you're practicing a more difficult musical passage, slow down the tempo of the metronome. As you get better, raise the speed more and more ever so slightly, until you can perform the passage flawlessly. This exercise can be performed as many times as you'd like until your performance contains zero errors.
For musical pieces that you have the most trouble with, this process may take a bit longer than expected. However, having a metronome can help you better measure your progress more accurately, whether you're counting the beats per minute you raise each day, or the number of beats you're capable of reaching by the end of each practice.
Throughout the process of increasing the metronome's speed, the rigorously precise beat count will help you overcome obstacles quicker. Having an accurate beat counter will avoid the risk of accidentally slowing down and speeding up as your attention to difficulty shifts. Because the metronome will continue to click along, the harder passages will become much more obvious. As you conquer these musical hurdles, your technique will highly improve.
Practice suggestion: Even though you'll start practicing at tempos below your goal, occasionally set the metronome at a musical piece's correct tempo. Doing so will give you a better feel for what the music will sound like at normal speed.
Another practice suggestion: Pretend that the metronome is another musician. For various kinds of music, experiment with different beats-per-minute. For swing style, set the beat on 2 and 4, and on 1 and 3 for classical pieces. For musical pieces that contain triplets- 3/4, 6/8, or 12/8 time signatures- set the metronome to eighth notes.
Performing with others is a lot of fun, and metronome practice with groups and ensembles can greatly improve your performance in this area. Sometimes it's easy to get carried away when playing with a group, which often leads to rushing a beat, especially during more difficult parts. This can cause jerky rhythms that speed up and slow down. Using a metronome can be a great tool for players who have this problem, and it will keep the music moving atthe correct tempo without causing any hurt feelings.
Now that you've decided to pick up a metronome, your next step is knowing how to select the right one. For a variety of sounds and rhythms, drum machines are preferred by many musicians. If your style is more simplistic, a compact handheld metronome is a perfect choice. Online metronomes are also great for musicians who practice near a computer. For those who play loudly, make sure that the metronome you decide upon can accompany that need.
These days, some metronomes even include built-in tuners, with versions available that range from rack-mounted to remarkably compact. But whatever you decide upon, you can be certain that a metronome will surely improve your timing and playing accuracy.