Metronome Mileage Part 2

Here’s a simple metronome exercise that can be very revealing.  It was passed on to me by Ben Heywood who is a great local guitarist and arranger.   There are 5 simple steps.
  1. Put a metronome at about 70 bpm.
  2. Take a pencil or a drum stick and tap quarter notes to the click.  
  3. Close your eyes while doing it, helps to block out distractions.
  4. Do this for 3-5 minutes.

Ben says, “Unless you’re Elvin Jones brought back to life, you’ll be aware of the two separate clicks. They’ll be close, but still not perfectly in sync.  Sometimes your click will be a touch early, sometimes slightly late.”

Your experience with this initial 70 bpm will vary depending on how strong your sense of time already is.  You may find this very easy or it may take time to experience 6-7 clicks perfectly in sync.  Usually, when that happens you’re conscious mind wakes up and says, “Hey where’s the metronome?”  As soon as that happens, you’ll be out again.  If you are having trouble try counting to find where the beats are.

According to Ben, “We have to build our time chops without an instrument in our hands because it’s a head thing—time is partly an intellectual concept and although some people naturally feel it  slightly early or late, it is possible to develop it.”  I almost forgot step 5:

5.  Over several months gradually work down to 55mm—slower than 50 is torture.

Try it and observe the results without judgment.  It’s a simple exercise to isolate time without the complication of notes and technique.   Your goal is to hide the metronome and make it disappear.  If you record yourself doing it, it can be humbling.  At any rate, try it and let me know how it feels.

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