Metronome Tricks

A photo of Adam Wiencken

One of my earliest teachers in drum corps told us at a winter camp, “If you’re not using a metronome, you’re not really practicing.”

Even for those less enthused at the use of a metronome 100% of the time, everyone understands its positive impact. The following are a few ways to use the metronome in ways that perhaps you haven’t tried before.

Alternate Time

Alternate using the metronome at single time and half time to check your rhythmic accuracy as you progress through the material. Set your metronome to quarter note = 120, and then practice the measure at half time, where the 120 becomes the eighth note.

Take Beats Out

Set the metronome to click on only certain beats of the measure (only beats 1 and 3 or only beat 1, 2, 3, or 4, etc.). This practice places more responsibility on the performer to keep good time when aligning with only one or two clicks from the metronome in any given measure.

Put More Clicks In

If you are practicing material that requires a lot of space or is at a slow tempo, setting the metronome to multiple clicks per beat will help. When the metronome is gone, you have practiced your mind and brain to be subdividing throughout the slow tempos. Try and be creative with this concept. Set your metronome to the eighth notes, sixteenths, triplets, etc. to fill the measure.

Use your Playlists

Not down with always using a metronome? No problem! Turn on whatever you like to listen to from your personal music collection, and practice to it. That method can be a really good way to break up the monotony of the metronome and keep the practice session fun, light, and fresh. It is also an effective strategy to use when trying to build endurance by not allowing yourself to stop until the track stops.

About the author

Adam Wiencken

Adam Wiencken is the percussion specialist for Broken Arrow (Oklahoma) Public Schools and the battery arranger for the Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps. He is an alumnus of the Madison Scouts and The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps. He is a Yamaha Performing Artist and an educational artist for Innovative Percussion Inc., Remo drumheads, Zildjian cymbals, and MEINL Percussion.