You’ll Suck as a Drummer Unless You Start Using A Metronome!

clock

Drumming: It's like clockwork!

Whether you like it or not, we all have a “master clock”. The brain controls this clock which is responsible for your body’s circadian rhythms (sleep-wake cycles). In the same way, as a drummer, you are responsible for being the “master clock” in your band. Whether you like it or not, if you can’t keep time, the band is better off without you!

How to Become a Better Drummer

Nothing is more frustrating than a song that starts off way too slow, and then speeds up way too fast as the song builds into the chorus. Drummers, it is our job to control this. The best drummers in the industry are those who know the pocket, feel the groove and keep good time. It’s all about the clockwork!

To become a better drummer you need to begin to develop your internal clock. The best way to do this is to use a metronome. The metronome (or “click”) is your friend, not your worst enemy.

If you’re already thinking “I’ve never needed a click” – unless you’re Vinnie Colaiuta, you’re wrong! I can’t stress it enough. If there’s only one area where you can be rock solid, let it be this one. Even the music legends will pick a time keeper over a phat filler!

Essentially, you will be a better drummer if you begin to practice with a metronome.

Choosing A Metronome

There are many great metronomes on the market. The most important feature that you should look for in a metronome is “tap tempo” (more on this in a below). If you’re just starting out, I suggest that you buy an entry level metronome before you drop the bigger dollars on a heavy duty one.

Let me break them up into three categories:

  • iPhone Metronome Apps (very affordable – $1-$10)
  • Standard Metronomes ($20-$50)
  • All-in-One Metronomes ($80-$200)

iPhone Metronome Apps:

[good for personal practice but not reliable enough for studio work or live playing with other loops and tracks]

Tempo – by Frozen Ape ($1.99)

Metronomeâ„¢ - Frozen Ape Pte. Ltd.

Tempo

With tap tempo and a built-in setlist feature, you don’t need any other. Go out and get this app if you have an iPhone ($1.99)

Standard Metronomes:

Korg MA-30 Ultra Compact Digital Metronome

Korg MA-30

Description:

The Korg MA30 is a proven offering from their innovative line of metronomes! The MA30 has features like volume control and sophisticated rhythms such as triplets and quadruplets with inner beats omitted. Its easy-to-see display includes a cool liquid crystal pendulum.

Boss DB-30C Dr. Beat Metronome

Boss DB30

Description:

It’s portable, reliable, and fun to use — the DB-30 helps musicians take their music to higher levels by offering a set of features that defies its diminutive size. Much more than just a simple timekeeper, this pocket-sized metronome can lay down a variety of rhythm patterns and time feels to practice along with, and it has a few timekeeping tricks up its sleeve as well.


All-in-One Metronomes

Tama Rhythm Watch

Tama Rhythm Watch

Description:

The first timekeeper designed specifically for the band’s timekeeper, TAMA’s Rhythm Watch had everything a drummer needed to make sure the time was right—live and in the studio. The original Rhythm Watch featured enough volume to play with real drums, a large, easy-to-read display, a dial for quick tempo adjustments, separate volumes for quarter notes, eighths and triplets…the list went on and on. The second generation RW105 features a backlit display, 30 different memory settings, and up to nine different beat divisions. The only thing we didn’t change was the simplicity.

Boss DB-90 Dr. Beat Metronome

Boss DB90

Description:

The Note Mixing function allows you to instantly create a variety of beats by adjusting the levels of five different note values; front-panel sliders, buttons, and a large rotary dial provide instant, hands-on access to edit parameters. Select four different click sounds, including a human voice-counting sound that will help you know your place in the bar. The DB-90 is also equipped with realistic PCM drum patterns. Expand your rhythmic horizons with Rhythm Coach. This innovative follow-along feature has four training modes to help build your accuracy, speed, and endurance. With the DB-90′s onboard microphone, you can use the Rhythm Coach functions with acoustic drums, or plug a Roland V-Pad into the Trigger input, play along, and measure your progress.Many UsesDrummers can connect to the DB-90 via Roland V-Pads, or use the DB-90′s internal microphone to capture the sound of their acoustic snare and incorporate it into the practice routine.

Again, if you’re going to want to start using this at your next band practice, the important must-have feature is “tap-tempo”. I like to make sure that every song in the set list has a tempo marking set next to it (do this at practice, according to how the worship leader wants the song played, and not necessarily the marked tempo on the chart).

WorshipDrummer Challenge

Since we are building a community of drummers that seeks to challenge one another to grow, here’s your first challenge. Buy a Metronome! Go as simple as the Tempo iPhone app, or go big with the Boss DB-90. Either way, get one!

[Since you asked, I'm saving up to buy the DB90. With me it's "go big, or go home!"]

Once you have it, start practicing with it at home first as it may take a few weeks to get used to it.

To keep accountable, let us know in the comments which one you bought/have and how the practice is going.

Happy Drumming! ;)




There are 21 comments

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  1. mike

    Appreciate the info here. Working with metronome is not only helpful to drummers, it helps the entire band! There are many talented guitarists and pianists in the world with issues keeping time! Often, the poor drummer gets all the “what happened” looks. Not always justifiably so. A good metronome, particularly if you play with in-ear monitors, helps keep everyone on-board the train you’re driving. And, like anything worthwhile, an investment of effort (practice) is necessary to help you improve. I admit, it’s tough to lay down your pride and work with click. But after a while, it really does become indispensable to your playing.

    Although…occasionally…a little “rubato” never hurt anyone! :-)

    As an aside…the DB90 is the “click” we use at our church. Easy to use. But…buy the power supply. When the battery dies…all settings revert to defaults. All of “your” settings are lost. That can happen at pretty inopportune moments…without warning!

  2. Brent Clifford

    I have the DB-90. It’s AMAZING! I don’t even use all the features. It’s more metronome than the average drummer will need. I do like the Coach feature. VERY HELPFUL! I will look into the DB-30. Looks rugged…like something that will stand road conditions. As a touring drummer, it’s very important to have a rugged, reliable click…and the DB-90 is just that.

    I’ll be looking forward to reading more posts on here, and being a frequent reader. Keep up the GREAT work!

  3. DC

    I had a DB-90 but then found all the apps that did it all (except the trigger function) but for pennies. My click app goes from phone to direct box to my Aviom in-ear. A luxury I know but I love the ability to mix it in and the other worship band members have it they want click or just drums.

  4. patrick

    as a worship-leading guitar player with the heart of a drummer, i just need to say i love your blog. keep up the greatness! if you ever need a contribution from a guitarist’s perspective, let me know.

  5. Steven Morris

    I agree 100% that drummers NEED to use a metronome or click when doing worship. A drummer myself I have always thought this. What I may recommend to other drummers, is trying tracks. Head over to http://bwacksforum.com (a forum site created by David Crowder*Band’s drummer, Bwack). Here the community shares loops/tracks to go with many songs like DC*B, Hillsong, Starfield, etc. We use these in our college and even some Sunday morning services. I love practicing with these, because I feel more along with the song, rather then just drumming whatever to a steady tempo. One I might recommend is Everything Glorious by DC*B (can be easily found on their forum). It is a very simple song to play, and is fun all in its own way.

    What a track adds for me is that I CAN’T GET OFF. Once you are off, it can be very difficult to get back with the track. Playing with a metronome, and being able to reset it if the worship team gets off is one thing, but being able to stay with the song and track is another.

    Once your dummer and worship team are comfortable and able to stay with the track, try these on a Sunday morning. I bet that if you are even reading these, you are most likely doing songs, that you could implement a track into. Using these tracks can help the WT recreate the sound of the song, originally recreated by the band. And for me, I feel that as a team, we need to do our best to produce a sound, that then church and audience members could go then get the songs, hear them on the radio, and it would sound similar to them.

    For anyone that would like tips on how to run/playback tracks during worship, I would be more then happy to help!

  6. Matt

    Fantastic blog, been reading for a while now!
    Can’t agree more about metronomes! I’m only 16, been playing since I was 7, and teach a few students, from lesson one I get the student to get a metronome, and we don’t do the ‘fun’ stuff until they are keeping in time for long periods!

    I do have one issue though, I don’t use a click when drumming at church, I don’t know about yours, but our church is very spirit filled during the worship, it is common for the worship leader to start and stop songs by building up the tempo, or slowing a song right down, and using a click pad while doing this would hard. I would say practice all you can at home with a click, then when at church use what you have learnt for real, I think also having a click going on in my ear when trying to worship while drumming would be slightly off putting. Just my views :)
    Matt

  7. cyntia

    I’ve been playing for a few years and I’ve never played with a metronome but for a few months now I’ve been thinking about the metronome and how it is necessary. I have the issue in where I tend to speed up a song at the chorus, which is very bad lol. But finally this last Tuesday when we had practice we were or I was put to the test. We practice with the “click.” Oh wow did I feel like I was going back to my beginner days lol. It was awful for me atleast. But in all honesty it made the songs feel and sound a whole lot better, well atleast the parts I was in sync with lol. Thank you worship drummer for this blog. I know after the practice and your advice the click will be my best friend :)

  8. Tom Uber

    Hi Jonmanna, let me start by saying thanx for the blog…lots of great info and input here. I have been playing drums about six years now and have been on a worship team for five of them. Have’nt yet played with a metronome. just attended the Paul Baloche worship team workshop took two of the drumming coarses there. Carl Albrecht says the difference in using a metronome and not are like night and day. So, I’ll be trying out the new Tama. Got any advice where to find one cheap?

  9. Zoe

    Guys, this iphone app BACKBEATER is a huge improvement on the standard metronome apps. It actually tells you the tempo you are playing in real time (rather than playing a sound along side you) AND it does some analysis on habits (deviations from long run average tempo).


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