Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Playing against a Metronome--Hard!

I’m practicing some of the songs I know against a web-based metronome, and for some reason I find that very difficult–although it does seem to be a little easier at a faster pace than a slower one. I read somewhere that playing slow and in time is a lot harder than playing fast–too fast, usually–and not-so in time, as I have the bad habit of doing.

I don’t have any experience playing banjo but I use a metronome for guitar just about every day and after a while it gets a lot easier. I don’t really have to think about it anymore. When the clicking starts I just automatically fall in with it. I do think at some level of slowness it gets tougher to stay in time, though. When the clicks get too far apart I start wandering.

Ditto what Larry said. I do Travis picking on guitar, which is kind of similar to banjo. I found when playing slower, if I am having a real tough time, set the metronome (MN) to beat twice (or even 4 times) the speed I am trying to play. For example, instead of quarter notes (100 BPM), set it to beat for the eighth notes (200 BPM). Then, as you get better at playing along side the MN, go back to quarters… when you master that, set it to half notes. If you really want to test your internal clock, set it to beat once a measure or once every other measure.

Another problem I have seen is when some people try to listen for the metronome and then after they hear the click, play with the beat. As a result they are always just behind it and uneven. I have to sync my internal clock with the metronome and play along side it. It’s kind of like trying to drive your car right next to another one going down the highway. If you are always looking at it and micro-adjusting, it will be constant work and your speed will always be changing. On the other hand, if you just drive your car and stay aware of the other car in your peripheral vision, you can drive a more stable speed and it’s much less work. I hope that makes sense.

Thanks, Mike! I find that in playing with the metronome going, I have the same trouble I have trying to hold a heading under the hood–I always want to chase the needle. Chasing the beat doesn’t work all that well either.

That’s a great analogy… fly a heading and verify with the needles / play a tempo and verify with the metronome. We have enough aviators here that it probably works for a fair amount of players.

I have this same trouble. I’m all good when I’m playing along with Ben as he counts the beat on his tracks, but if I have to count myself or listen to a metronome while playing, I get all cattywampus.

I’m not sure what happened, but a few days ago it just clicked and now I can play along with a metronome like I knew what I was doing all along.

Small victories :slight_smile:

Good deal!