Happy New Year from The doubleBASSbridge!
In the spirit of new year's resolutions...it's time to transform your practice routine from metro-no to metro-whoa!
I had a major "metro-whoa" moment the other day when my really smart colleague said: the metronome doesn't just teach you how to play on the beat, it teaches you how to play with other people.
Whoa, indeed. All of those hours in a practice room - all by myself - were to prepare me to play with others. Deep down I knew this, but my approach to the metronome wasn't founded upon this concept. I was practicing with the metronome because I wanted to play better...which of course was to play with other people. However, my mind was treating it as a chore as opposed to the rehearsal before the rehearsal.
In order to successfully play together, everyone must agree on the same tempo, pulse, and rhythms. We've all heard it a million times from our teachers, coaches, and conductors..."practice with the metronome" and "you guys HAVE to subdivide!"
It's important to note that subdividing the beat is much more than counting "one e and a". As musicians we must understand and feel the "inside" of the beat in order to keep a steady pulse and to execute rhythms precisely. This is where the metronome comes in.
We all know the basic metronome routine: start slowly and work the metronome up a few clicks at a time, add subdivisions as needed, use a variety of creative practice rhythms, and be able to clap/count the rhythms correctly.
Here are a few ideas to freshen up those extra fun metronome sessions:
Practice with the metronome only on off beats.
Practice with the metronome on beats 2 and 4 (yeah, I hear you jazz musicians...you are right and classical musicians should be doing it too!)
Set the metronome so it only clicks on beat 1 of each measure. Once this is mastered, set it so the metronome only clicks on beat 1 of every other measure. There are many apps in which you can silence certain beats or even multiple beats.
With the metronome on, count through your music while conducting along.
Using only one pitch, play through the rhythms in the music. Try to add in dynamics and phrasing while playing with the metronome.
Check point: be able to play with the metronome while counting out loud. "Play it and say it" is a fantastic assement to determine rhythmic understanding.
If you don't already own a metronome (which of course I'm sure you already do!) Pro Metronome is a great app. If you want to go old school, I recommend this ultimate hunk of metronome love, Dr. Beat.
Tick-tock, your metronome is waiting!
Dr. Anna Jensen,