I'm sure you've heard that it is incredibly useful to practice with a metronome. Most books and teachers make it abundantly clear that using a metronome is a great way to improve your timing. This is true. But did you know that there are other HUGE benefits to using a metronome? Let's take a look at a few now...
It’s been proven time-and-time again that goals need to be specific and measurable to work. If you don’t know exactly WHAT you are trying to achieve, how will you know WHEN you have achieved it?
I use my metronome all the time to help me set SPECIFIC goals for my technique development. For example, let's say that you would like to increase the speed at which you can play a particular exercise. If you use a metronome you can set an EXACT speed for your goal. For example, you might say that when you can play the exercise using sixteenth notes at 160 bpm (beats-per-minute), then you have reached your goal. Can you see how powerful this is? The metronome setting gives you a clear target to aim for!
Progressive Realization Of Goals
Metronomes allow you to progressively achieve your goals. What do I mean by this? Put simply, it means start slow and GRADUALLY increase the speed of your metronome. For example, let’s say you want to get a particular lick up to 200 bpm. You could first master the lick at 40 bpm. Once mastered at this speed you could then increase the metronome speed to 42 bpm, then 44 bpm, then 46 bpm. You get the idea! You would work up to the target speed incrementally over a period of days, weeks or even months.
Developing Listening Skills
One absolutely vital skill to develop is the ability to play your guitar while still being able to listen to the people that you are playing with. This is especially true in jazz, where a large proportion of the song may be improvised!
Metronomes really help you develop this listening skill. As you practice you will also have to be listening to the click of your metronome. If you don’t, you will soon be playing out of time with it!
Obviously, you’ll develop this listening ability more fully by playing with other musicians, but playing with a metronome will definitely help as well. It’s a great place to start and can often can help build your confidence to play with other people.
Hopefully this article has inspired you to dust off your metronome and use it. It would also be a great exercise to think of some other benefits yourself. Practice hard and have fun!