Any suggestions how to improve tempo accuracy?

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
Just don't let the click become a crutch. I now a TON of bands play live to a click these days. But, it kinda seems like cheating to me. Anyway, play live with a bass player and rhythm guitarist. Maybe not even songs. Just groove. Play a beat, have them join in, and just keep it rolling. But, if you get to the point where you feel like you need a click, I think that will cause more negative than positive.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
When I played in a civic orchestra and offshoot big band and jazz band we never used any click-just everyone sight reading and the conductor counting in and keeping everyone on task. Many songs changed tempo numerous times. I would count the whole song initially-which I hate that. So I memorize the songs and could play to it in my head-few times the conductor would chastise my time-it was usually brass section. Everybody has to have the tempo and keep time-a drummer needs to do so too but if everyone else is off yikes!!!!!
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
The click becoming a crutch is a real thing.

I may be in the minority on this, but I've found playing along with a random mute metronome useful. I use PolyNome and you can set how frequently the click drops out. When the click is gone, you're on your own, and then when it comes back in, you can immediately identify rushing or dragging. It's instant feedback, and you can make the adjustments needed to overcome whatever your tendency is. You can train yourself using it playing simple time, fills, drum breaks, solos, etc.

Not everyone seems to agree with me on the value of the muting. I've read/heard some well-respected players who don't seem to think there's that much value in it. But I think it's been good for me to use in this way.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Count out loud (not in your head). Count out loud (not in your head). Count out loud (not in your head). Count out loud (not in your head). Count out loud (not in your head). Count out loud (not in your head). Count out loud (not in your head). Count out loud (not in your head). Count out loud (not in your head).

Counting in your head does pretty much nothing, because you won't perceive when you've sped up or slowed down.

There is only one way that ever worked for me in all my years of studies with various teachers and it came from Gary Chester. Gary would have me sing with my four-way coordination studies. Sounds daunting? It's not. For simplicity sake, play a groove repetitiously and sing the quarter notes as you go through the groove. Over and over. Then sing the upbeats to the same groove. Over and Over. Then sing the bass drum part only to the same groove. Then sing any space you are allowing in the groove. So if it's an eight not groove, sing the spaces in between as if it was in sixteenths. Singing internalizes the groove and helps you build a clock. Now, nobody sings this in the studio or on a gig out loud, but you can feel the pulse inside you and if you feel it internally, it will be expressed in your playing as such.
I had a very similar experience with my teacher. Counting out ("singing") really helped me to groove and improvise without losing the click. Engaging the sense of speech is super important. And it is difficult at first, but will develop your time in a way that mere listening will not. There used to be a vid on YouTube where Steve Smith demonstrates what he learned from Peter Erskine. He counts aloud "1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a..." while playing a funk/rock groove, with some variations and fills. He never stops counting, even during the fills.

Try counting aloud all the 16ths as you play basic beats, variations, and fills, and then add complexity as you go along. Once in a while you'll need to breathe in, but as soon as you can, keep counting out loud.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
LOL if I tapped or counted verbally in orchestra I'd get my tires slashed and death threats LOL. Seriously they would get upset with evil looks of disdain and contempt. Jeez.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
LOL if I tapped or counted verbally in orchestra I'd get my tires slashed and death threats LOL. Seriously they would get upset with evil looks of disdain and contempt. Jeez.
There's an ocean of difference between a practice method -- a learning tool -- and a performance of material you already know how to play well.
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
Good topic.
I am trying to internalize tempos too. Some are much easier to get right than others.
The thing I am trying now is to use the tempos that come easily and interpolate/extrapolate to other more difficult ones.
For example 60 bpm is pretty easy to hit, then the next one is 74 I can usually get that. So anything between those two I can guess how much push or drag gets me there.
Even just knowing that I can find those two is helping me to understand where internal tempo lives.
The more senses involved in imagining a tempo the better I think.
John Travolta walking Satuday Night Fever= 60bpm. Lol
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Recently, I've noticed my sense of time improving fairly dramatically. I think for me it has been listening to many Native American tribal music. These tracks have very strong pulse. I also play and dance along to them. I think more than anything doing quarter note grooves along to these records really does improve my sense of time, and is fun! I think part of it is getting the footwork, I feel that really helps the timing. It is also a good way to hear how you can express your self with accurate tempo, and precision in the beat.
 

bonerpizza

Silver Member
I play a game that I call "Chasing The One" with my students and on my own, I'll start the metronome and have it only playing the 1 I'll then play along with it and land on the 1, I normally do a simple beat 3 times through then I'll do a 4 count fill the 4th time through. I start it at a fairly fast tempo 100 - 120 BPM and gradually slow it down as I get going (playing faster is easier).
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
There's an ocean of difference between a practice method -- a learning tool -- and a performance of material you already know how to play well.
LOL if I tapped or counted verbally in orchestra I'd get my tires slashed and death threats LOL. Seriously they would get upset with evil looks of disdain and contempt. Jeez.
Besides you have an conductor waving his hands in front of you. Its like playing with a metronome.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I always agree with Bermuda on this kind of stuff - everyone just needs to know the songs they're playing. If you study the music enough and have listened to it enough, you will know the tempo it should be at. It all starts with listening to the music and knowing what it is you have to play. Of course, if you're playing some new arrangements and songs are unfamiliar or in a different feel, that's one thing. But for the most part, we're playing in cover bands playing hits that people know (which if we didn't do it right, the venue would just as soon hire a DJ instead). So you must know what it is you're playing. If you're having a problem knowing what the tempo should be (within a few BPM slower or faster), I say you haven't listened to the song enough.

We all joke here about playing "Mustang Sally", but if you don't know the song, you must listen first. Internalize what all the songs you are playing feel like. Try putting all the songs you play in a device you can listen to, and when you go to bed, have them playing in your ear buds - I find this helps to internalize the songs. And of course, if another member of the band decides to start the tune, I take great pride in holding it where they started it ;)
 

jimb

Member
Kinda agree with the above.
Back in the day as kids no-one ever talked about tempos or what not...we just did it cause we had listened to the tune and clearly the next step was to play it properly, the speed was all part of that equation. I sometimes wonder if today if younger peeps over think just about everything a bit too much.
 
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