Drum teacher tells me to ignore metronome for now

GCRoberts

Well-known member
I'm an older (57yrs) beginning drum student and I've been taking lessons for 6 months. My drum teacher is a little older than me and is a great drummer and teacher. He really enjoys teaching me as I put in the time and try to perfect my skills when I practice. The only thing I question is that every time I bring up the idea of using a metronome, he says that my timing is pretty good already and he wants me to concentrate on technique instead of worrying about perfect metronome timing. At time same time, I see tons of videos where they always suggest that you use a metronome from day one. I guess I could practice with a metronome and not tell my instructor about it. Should I take my instructors advice and forget all about the metronome until he brings it up?
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
It's likely he means for you to de-prioritize the metronome... Or rather... There are fundamentals you should be working on prior to engaging with the metronome so that it doesn't overwhelm you at this very early stage.

Don't worry, you'll be on the metro soon.
 
When first learning the motions of a new technique, I think your teacher is right. But in general once those motions aren't cumbersome and you want to finesse them I don't see any reason to not put the metronome on. The two certainly don't need to be exclusively practiced. Everything we play and do should be in time and a metronome is a good way to keep our mechanics in check while strengthening our skills. It helps ensure that something doesn't later turn out to be a problematic habit when played with metronomic time.

Sounds like you already have a strong sense of time. If you're curious, I would just try out a metronome while practicing to see if you can find a comfortable tempo to just absorb a click without it noticeably taking away from any motions you need to concentrate on.

A metronome can be a lot of fun, and goes well with the majority of skills we need to develop.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
You can develop good time away from the drums. Just set the metronome to 60 and try to bury the click by clapping along. Don’t subdivide. When you can consistently bury the click by clapping at 60 bpm, change it to 50. Then 40. Etc.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
When I tell a student not to use a metronome, it's often because they can barely play the thing we're doing, and they need to be able to work it out without worrying about following a click. If you can basically do some lesson item, it should be fine to use a metronome part of the time.

On the other hand: you're paying the guy for his judgment, so maybe assume he has a good reason for what he's telling you. If he's saying he wants you to concentrate on your technique, maybe it means you really need to concentrate on your technique. Or maybe he's trying to get you to work something else out. Use your judgment.

Re: that blanket advice that everyone should use a metronome all the time, from day 1-- I think that's bad advice. There's a lot of bad drumming advice floating around the internet.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
I'm one of the members here who doesn't believe in metronomes to play against. As a status check yes, it tells you how much you've sped up or down. But regardless of that, technique is a physics problem. You're trying to train your hand muscles to interact with the drum stick as a response to stick bounce, which in turn, is a response to (a) the downward force and acceleration of the stick (again, controlled by your hand), and (b) the damping effect of how your hand is controlling/touching/supporting/holding the stick. That downward force (ie stroke) is in turn, controlled by the previous upstroke and again your hand interacting with that to reverse it's direction. In the middle of all that is stick bounce.

Proper stick technique is to teach your hands to efficiently use the bounce - apply force at a specific time relative to the bounce (not metronomic time), and then get out of the way for the rebound, again at a specific time relative to bounce. Your ears, your eyes, and the sensory feedback from your hands, are all necessary inputs to help you achieve this.

EDIT: Metronome use for practicing rudiments would be okay though, only after getting a good start on proper hand technique.
 
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MntnMan62

Junior Member
I'm one of the members here who doesn't believe in metronomes to play against. As a status check yes, it tells you how much you've sped up or down. But regardless of that, technique is a physics problem. You're trying to train your hand muscles to interact with the drum stick as a response to stick bounce, which in turn, is a response to (a) the downward force and acceleration of the stick (again, controlled by your hand), and (b) the damping effect of how your hand is controlling/touching/supporting/holding the stick. That downward force (ie stroke) is in turn, controlled by the previous upstroke and again your hand interacting with that to reverse it's direction. In the middle of all that is stick bounce.

Proper stick technique is to teach your hands to efficiently use the bounce - apply force at a specific time relative to the bounce (not metronomic time), and then get out of the way for the rebound, again at a specific time relative to bounce. Your ears, your eyes, and the sensory feedback from your hands, are all necessary inputs to help you achieve this.
I think the concept of technique as you've properly stated is essential. But I don't see how technique cancels out the impact of practicing with a metronome. They are two entirely distinct concepts. So, I guess the one part I disagree with is where you say "(not metronomic time)". You can do all of the steps you mention perfectly and you can ALSO do all those things in time with a metronome. I think the part you are missing is that when you talk about the physical science of the stick bounce and the downward force and acceleration, you are not taking into account the impact your hands have in controlling how fast all of the above takes place. Your hands can speed up or slow down all of the above. And that is exactly where the metronome comes in.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I wouldn't second-guess a trusted instructor. If you're committed to his program, follow his directives. This is a prime example of how Internet "videos" can derail your focus. Just stay on course and practice in the fashion he's promoting. He'll probably incorporate metronome use eventually. If he doesn't, you can always discuss the matter with him down the line.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
I think the concept of technique as you've properly stated is essential. But I don't see how technique cancels out the impact of practicing with a metronome. They are two entirely distinct concepts. So, I guess the one part I disagree with is where you say "(not metronomic time)". You can do all of the steps you mention perfectly and you can ALSO do all those things in time with a metronome. I think the part you are missing is that when you talk about the physical science of the stick bounce and the downward force and acceleration, you are not taking into account the impact your hands have in controlling how fast all of the above takes place. Your hands can speed up or slow down all of the above. And that is exactly where the metronome comes in.
From a "start from zero" beginner approach, the student is not skilled in starting the down stroke, which in part controls bounce. Again, at it's most basic form, proper technique is teaching the hand to sense the motion of the stick, and respond based on bounce.

A metronome can be used as a status check on where the development is at. Albeit, one can argue that technique changes with speed. One plays a paradiddle much different at 120 bpm than at 60 bpm, eg.
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
Back when I had a handful of students, pretty much all beginners around middle school age, I mentioned practicing with a metronome but didn't really encourage it or enforce it. For just learning the basics and the stuff they were playing, it wasn't really necessary.

As for me, it depends. When I'm shedding on a drum pad or my practice set in my apartment, since I"m working exercises and out of books like Stick Control and New Breed, I'm pretty much always on a metronome.

When I'm out at my studio and actually "playing" the drums and grooving and having fun, or if I'm rehearsing with bands or playing live, or recording with bands, I never use a metronome. The one time I do use a metronome is if we're not recording "live" with a band, and we're assembling it piecemeal, with me laying down the drums, then someone else comes in and lays down guitar, etc., then I record that to a click. Or if I'm recording drums to a playalong, the playalong is obviously recorded to a click so even if there isn't a "beep beep beep" its still technically a click, just one generation removed.

So basic rule of thumb for me....practice w/ click, rehearse without one, play gigs without one, live recordings without one, constructed recordings with one.
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
From a "start from zero" beginner approach, the student is not skilled in starting the down stroke, which in part controls bounce. Again, at it's most basic form, proper technique is teaching the hand to sense the motion of the stick, and respond based on bounce.

A metronome can be used as a status check on where the development is at. Albeit, one can argue that technique changes with speed. One plays a paradiddle much different at 120 bpm than at 60 bpm, eg.
I'm not suggesting that this beginning drummer start practicing with a metronome now. I agree he needs to practice his technique in executing the rudiments first. Once he is able to play the rudiments at a couple different speeds, then he can start working with a metronome. I agree that technique changes with speed. Which is why once he has the basic technique down, the metronome will help him to not only find his "time" but also will help build hand strength allowing him to play properly at any speed desired. I guess I agree with everything except I think working with a metronome is much more than just a status check.
 

GCRoberts

Well-known member
I wouldn't second-guess a trusted instructor. If you're committed to his program, follow his directives. This is a prime example of how Internet "videos" can derail your focus. Just stay on course and practice in the fashion he's promoting. He'll probably incorporate metronome use eventually. If he doesn't, you can always discuss the matter with him down the line.
Oh I'm not getting derailed at all. If he suggests something, I go out of my way to do it exactly the way he asks.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Oh I'm not getting derailed at all. If he suggests something, I go out of my way to do it exactly the way he asks.
No worries, GC. I'm not questioning your discipline or anything of that nature. It just seems harder for learners to stay on track these days among so many alternative influences.

In my opinion, your instructor is supplying productive guidance. Focusing on technique seems the right approach for you at this stage. You'll have lots of time to add metronomes to your regimen.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I guess I agree with everything except I think working with a metronome is much more than just a status check.
I agree

For the purposes of recording, being able to play to a click is a godsend to the producer/engineer/etc. Playing live, it introduces the possibility of automation (lights, video, animatronics, pyro) and advanced choreography.

*Note - I realize that some understand "metronome" to exclude advanced backing tracks.
 
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Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
have been teaching for 30+ years...middle school to college.

To me, timing is PART of technique.I encourage metronome use because part of the physical act of drumming - the stroke, rebound, grip pressure etc - is also how your brain moves all of that around space, and how the division of that space via pulse effects how you use all of the physical stuff.

When I start my beginners, we are totally focused on the physical...while the met is going "in the background". I start all of my students with the classic 8 on a hand from marching band. To me, that is like "long tones" for drummers.

As they get better at manipulating the physical, then I start moving them to the next level of space control. This is usually 2 months (given how much they practice at home) in to the lessons. This is where we start testing the hand technique by talking about timing technique, and hoe the addition or subtraction of space effects how you use your hand muscles to play in that space. Their use and analyzation with the met starts to grow here ,and they become comfortable with how and why we use the met.

I ALWAYS encourage analyzing with the met...and eventually, learning with it on. But they have to develop the "learning patterns" skills separately first. As someone mentioned, it is pointless to use a met on patterns that your hands don't know yet. By the time they are a year in, most of my students (again, who do the right thing at home) can learn with the met going, and understand how to use it.

I think that shunning, or even discouraging the use of the met is just as shortsighted as shunning rock for jazz, or marimba for drum set, or traditional for matched...and really, since learning time is a learned thing ( I don't believe it is automatic), not using them met is counter productive...especially at the early stages where your brain is imprinting concepts.

The metronome is a defining tool...like a ruler, because it defines space. I am pretty sure that many architects can "eyeball" space, but the good ones use a ruler when actually defining space in their art....we should too...
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
Don't get me wrong, Straight Edge. Metronome is not a wrong method of teaching technique. I just think we're talking a slight variation in approach. Part of me wonders if teachers prefer metronomes in the lesson (and practice) space because of its simple utility in judging success or failure. If you slip just a little, it's obvious. Then you need to make an immediate correction (this is what I disdain about it) to stay within the click, or you start over at the nearest '1' count.

The other thing, as I've mentioned in other threads, is that real live music ebbs and flows with time, with different sections within a piece. So if a student only practices to a metronome, then he or she might be adversely affected when it comes to playing with other musicians in a live setting. We've already established in other discussions, that groove is more than keeping time. It's more to do with dynamics, and playing what's complimentary to those you're playing with.
 
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Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Studio bassist Jeff Berlin write once, “playing to a metronome is like walking a tightrope while someone on the ground hits you with a whip”, when I got to meet him I asked him what he meant. He said there are times when training your muscles slowly and possibly out of time is all you can do. Practicing to a metronome before you’re ready can do more damage. I believe him.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Studio bassist Jeff Berlin write once, “playing to a metronome is like walking a tightrope while someone on the ground hits you with a whip”, when I got to meet him I asked him what he meant. He said there are times when training your muscles slowly and possibly out of time is all you can do. Practicing to a metronome before you’re ready can do more damage. I believe him.
That's an interesting comparison. I kinda like it, but seems a bit extreme.

I have no dog in this fight. I have been using some sort of click since day 1, but I dont see it being good for everyone either. I think everyone should learn to play with the click, but at what frequency is not up to me. My teacher, at lesson 1, determined I could use a click because I had already been playing to songs for a year. But he made that decision for me. So I practiced rudiments with a click.

Being a day 1 newbie, rudiments and a click might be too much for some. Or it might be just right. Or maybe just play songs and learn how to follow something that way, while learning rudiments and grips without a click. A new person is not able to make this decision by themselves in my opinion.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
he wants me to concentrate on technique instead of worrying about perfect metronome timing.
Well, it takes a lot of slow repetitions to develop new motions, especially if old habits are to be overcome. Most students usually want to rush the process, and will set the metronome way too fast. Often, the mere existence of a metronome "beep" takes the focus away from the positioning of the hand, fingers, wrist, stick, etc.

What technique(s) are you working on? Can you post a video?
 
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