Rock Band Exercises

thelimpingtoad

Senior Member
Okay... so my band has finally decided to dedicate the beginning of each practice to rudimentary practice with a metronome to help with our timing issues...

Basically what i'm looking for is links to any good basic rhythmic exercises for drums, bass, and guitar. I have been able to find plenty that are just the rhythm for rhythmic training (which we'll be using and having them create melodies for), and i've also found a bunch that are geared just for drums (like check pattern which we will also be using)... but i'm looking for specific exercises for rock instrumentation to work on our tempo control etc.

Right now we're working with a metronome and playing very simple rhythms starting with just quarters/half notes/whole notes... then just playing eighth note patterns... then doing sixteenth note patterns... I think last practice we did a good warm-up with these type of exercises but I'm looking to take this to a bit more of an organized level.

Also, any tips on doing this type of rudimentary work with a band would be greatly appreciated. Right now we've got timing issues galore... rushing, dragging, messed up syncopation... and its not necesarily any one person that's doing it... its just that it seems we're pulling a lot against each other...
 

Vipercussionist

Silver Member
your not relying on any visual cues from each other. Even though you might not know it, everyone gives off clues when hitting accents and ending guitar riffs and stuff like that. this way its all feel and timing.
If your timing is BAD playing in the dark will not improve it.

Playing in the dark to a METRONOME may help, but fumbling around, playing in the dark will waste FAR more time than a good session in the LIGHT with a Metronome!!!

The human body develops Muscle patterns, these patterns will FEEL correct even if they are not. The trick is to FORCE yourself to play in time, as perfectly as possible, with something that has great time. A metronome, or a drum machine will do nicely. THEN after you've re-programed your muscles to know what it feels like to play IN TIME you'll then have to program yourself to have that good time FEEL good and not feel mechanical.

Playing the same bad time in the dark will just make it harder to find the light switch later when you're heading out to buy a metronome.
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thelimpingtoad

Senior Member
I agree with vipercussionist (i agree with the thought... not the tone it was expressed in)... while i see the benefit of playing in the dark once we were playing together, i don't think it is really the solution to our problem.
I am really just looking for general exercises that I can use to work with the band. Like i said... i personally know a lot of exercises for drums I can be using on my own with a metronome, but i'm looking for specific exercises that would be charted for bass, drums, and guitar...
 
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brittc89

Pioneer Member
This is stuff everyone needs to work out individually on their own clock. I dont feel like any portion of a rehearsal should be devoted to working on things that should be hammered out individually. I dont like wasting my time personally helping other people practice stuff they should be doing all the time on their own.
 

thelimpingtoad

Senior Member
This is stuff everyone needs to work out individually on their own clock. .
Unfortunately that just isn't going to happen in our case... Two of us are classically trained and have the knowledge to do this. But the other member isn't as knowledgable in these things... in fact i'm not sure he even realizes how much of a timing problem we have or how off tempo he is sometimes. what we're really trying to accomplish is to a) fix the timing issues that our band has and b) show the other member how they can practice to eliminate some of the problems they have.
It has been mentioned that our band currently sounds like 3 people all playing a song at the same time instead of a band playing a song. or that we're "playing along with a song" instead of "Playing the song".
I have a set of exercises we will be using tonight but they are all just rhythmic exercises that don't have chords or music to it. I would prefer if there were specific exercises created for drum/bass/guitar.
 

Stoney

Senior Member
Personally I think it's up to the individuals to practice themselves rather than bringing the whole band into it. Be careful your music doesn't become stale and uninspiring because of it. It's good to push and pull in places. It's what makes music come alive! Ask the classically trained members of your band....

Get your guitarist or whomever to practice with a drum machine (in his own time) and you with a metronome (in your own time).

Over time your band will gel well together, just don't think about it too much.

That's my opinion.
 

thelimpingtoad

Senior Member
It's good to push and pull in places. It's what makes music come alive! Ask the classically trained members of your band....
I AM one of the classically trained members :) haha.
Piano lessons Grades 2-4, Concert Percussion lessons from grades 4-11, marching percussion instruction grades 9-12, private marching percussion lessons grades 11-12, private drumset lessons grades 7-12 and again in college for 2 semesters with a professional instructor in philadelphia. And since then (past 10 years) i've been working on my own... I also have taken music theory classes. I've also given lessons to several different students over the years.
But MY experience aside, Like i said the idea is that myself and the guitarist can help get our band locked in by influencing the other member a little to get his rhythm and tempo control to the level we're looking for. I understand this is something that he should be doing on his own, but like i said I am not convinced that he has the knowledge to do this. And I know its easy to say "well kick that guy out" but honestly we really don't want to... I think we have 3 options here... 1) break up and maybe join a new band... 2) continue the same mediocre level we've been playing at... 3) work towards all of us being where we should be musically.
I am looking at option 3 because I am friends with the other members of the band, and have a good feeling that in time we could be a pretty good band...
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
you guys are really disciplined! i could never get my band to do something like that! but that's cool you see a problem and are all willing to work on it. admitting you have a problem is the first step, as they say.

what my band has done, as undisciplined as we are, is to have me listen to a metronome with headphones while playing our songs. we did that to get me used to playing along to a click track in the studio, and it definitely helped. it also helps me keep my tempo steady, and helps the other guys rely entirely on me for timing rather than try to push and pull me faster or slower. i'm suggesting that approach because it's a little more entertaining than playing exercises as a band, and you're actually practicing your songs, which is always good.
 

Stoney

Senior Member
I am looking at option 3 because I am friends with the other members of the band, and have a good feeling that in time we could be a pretty good band...
Sounds like they're just holding you back but that's great if you've got the patience to do that. I still think any kind of technical learning should be kept separate from band rehearsing though. That should be the time for everyone to let loose, enjoy themselves and create music!
I can imagine it will start off with good intentions but end up becoming a bit of a chore.
 

thelimpingtoad

Senior Member
Sounds like they're just holding you back but that's great if you've got the patience to do that. I still think any kind of technical learning should be kept separate from band rehearsing though. That should be the time for everyone to let loose, enjoy themselves and create music!
I can imagine it will start off with good intentions but end up becoming a bit of a chore.
Well like i said i have specific reasons for wanting to do this together for the time being at least. (stoney check your pm and you'll see) I think that without learning the proper ways to practice this member will not know how to practice on their own.
Yes it already is a bit of a chore but i feel that's what we need to do. My last band had a guitarist that went to school for music education... he insisted that we work on stuff like this, he also had us do exercises involving clapping polyrhythms against each other... and we also worked all of our songs with a metronome the whole way down to less then half the tempo of the song... i can say with out a doubt we all became much better musicians because of it. Unfortunately I didn't go to school for music ed so I don't know any of these exercises off the top of my head... which is really why i'm asking for advice on here.
 

thelimpingtoad

Senior Member
i'm the youngest at 28... been playing music since 8 or 9. (piano for 2 years and drums after that)... the guitarist is about 32 and has been playing all sorts of instruments (starting with sax) for even longer then me. the bassist/singer/sometimes keyboardist is 40 and has been playing music for a pretty long time but has very little formal training in playing.

I worked out a rudimentary rhythmic practice regiment for us that we worked with the metronome last night. it worked really well. i'll post links to what we worked on tomorrow. we will also be working the exercises with a metronome on our own outside of practice.

also to clarify, this band is still pretty much "for fun" but we would like to play real gigs eventually and I want us to be tight when we do. we played the bassist's son's graduation party and have one set at a charity function in a few weeks.
 
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nhzoso

Guest
Not to be rude but man does that sound extremely boring and mundane, I cannot imagine any band doing this type of thing. I agree these issues should be worked on individually but not as a band all together. ugh, this has to hurt the music somehow does it not? I mean feel wise??
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Good on you, Limping. I think the personal side of band play can be underrated at times. Playing music with friends, or musos who are compatible enough to become friends, makes everything so much more enjoyable. Not easy if someone is really dragging the chain, though.

As nhzoso said, my band would find dedicated metronome work a dull way to use rehearsal time so the other week I decided to take Dairyman's approach and recorded click tracks for the songs to an iPod, which will be good for both me and them. I forgot to bring it with me to our last practice so this week will be the first test flight (if I %^$# remember to bring it this time!).

Dairyman, do you still do use the clicks or did you stop once satisfied that everyone had internalised the correct tempos? If so, how long did that take? Do you use the clicks at gigs?
 
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nhzoso

Guest
Good on you, Limping. I think the personal side of band play can be underrated at times. Playing music with friends, or musos who are compatible enough to become friends, makes everything so much more enjoyable. Not easy if someone is really dragging the chain, though.

As nhzoso said, my band would find dedicated metronome work a dull way to use rehearsal time so the other week I decided to take Dairyman's approach and recorded click tracks for the songs to an iPod, which will be good for both me and them. I forgot to bring it with me to our last practice so this week will be the first test flight (if I %^$# remember to bring it this time!).

Dairyman, do you still do use the clicks or did you stop once satisfied that everyone had internalised the correct tempos? If so, how long did that take? Do you use the clicks at gigs?

How do you record click tracks, and what are click tracks for that matter? I was thinking the other day that I would like to practice a few songs to a metronome on my own but was not sure what the speed was supposed to be set at. Is it just something you figure out till it sounds right?

Also rather than start another thread, I saw a band last week and the drummer had something on his snare drum that he said told him how fast he was playing. Had some kind of digital display on it and it sat directly on the snare head, I forgot what he called it, does anyone know what it is and where to get one. the local music store looked at me like I had 2 heads.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
How do you record click tracks, and what are click tracks for that matter? I was thinking the other day that I would like to practice a few songs to a metronome on my own but was not sure what the speed was supposed to be set at. Is it just something you figure out till it sounds right?
I generate the click tracks with Audacity, which is a free program. You can vary the clicks to provide beat one accents (or not) and also the type of sound and pitch. Once I've worked out how many bars needed I export to MP3 and load it to the iPod. I try to keep the pitch of the clicks fairly low or it hurts my ears.

I use a metronome to work out the BPM of the original. I also run the metronome against our recorded covers. It's fiddly and there's trial and error involved. I have been importing our covers into Audacity and fixing the tempo (not necessarily the same as the original) to what I think is ideal, when needed. That way I can listen to our versions at the desired tempo to reinforce my own sense without the clicks.

It's interesting to run a metronome against songs to check the tempo. The old soul and R&B songs are rarely metronomic but usually don't vary more than a few BPM within a song because they're good players. Running the metronome against my band's versions is more interesting still ... as in the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times" %-/
 

thelimpingtoad

Senior Member
Not to be rude but man does that sound extremely boring and mundane, I cannot imagine any band doing this type of thing. I agree these issues should be worked on individually but not as a band all together. ugh, this has to hurt the music somehow does it not? I mean feel wise??
It is boring AND mundane... but this is what we have to do to get tighter.
I know what you mean about "hurting the feel" because it definately adds one more thing to worry about.
We haven't been working the songs with the metronome yet... we're still just playing rudimentary exercises as a warm-up and for tempo control practice.
Part of the problem is that one member of the band doesn't read music... i gave them a set of exercises that we could all work together last week and the guy was like "i can't read this" then i had to explain what the time signature meant and what the rhythyms were. so I feel that this type of practice is going to also help him learn to read music and get better at sight-reading.
I have a more technical background that involved learning to read music pretty early on and working with concert bands and marching bands... so my background suggests that practicing written exercises with a metronome in an ensemble helps prevent tempo variations and stuff overall. But it can be argued that this type of work would be best practiced on our own time... however I feel that mix of both works the best.
We only spend about 20 minutes working like this each practice so it isn't too bad. It also focuses us on our technique and helps me (probably all of us) get more mentally prepared to play.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
it sounds like your little system is working out for the best, however tedious it is. as long as everyone is willing to do it and you're getting results, why change it?

Dairyman, do you still do use the clicks or did you stop once satisfied that everyone had internalised the correct tempos? If so, how long did that take? Do you use the clicks at gigs?
pretty much the latter. the whole point was to get me used to following a click and to get the rest of the band used to following me strictly before going into the studio. we were also trying to get tempos worked out in advance so we wouldn't be any fooling around with that in the studio. it worked for the most part. we only spent one evening with the click at practice, and when we went to the studio we didn't have too much trouble with the click.

i suppose if we were smart we'd continue playing to a click, at least during practice, but we haven't done that. we've never used a click at gigs. using a click was was an eye opener, i'll tell you! one song in particular, a slow song, felt really weird playing at the same tempo throughout the song. apparently, we'd gotten used to speeding it up and when we played it at a strictly fixed tempo it felt and sounded completely different!
 

shootzbra

Junior Member
HAVE FUN,and let your energy flow without the worry of your time.I dont know how bad your bands time may be, but once you all get into that zone,where you all are feeling that creative high ,then time will not be a problem.FEELING will be your click,and more time together as a band will be your best practice....and just think ,no one will be able to cover your songs exactly like you play them cause your songs time will be different each time you play..lol
 

thelimpingtoad

Senior Member
HAVE FUN,and let your energy flow without the worry of your time.I dont know how bad your bands time may be, but once you all get into that zone,where you all are feeling that creative high ,then time will not be a problem.FEELING will be your click,and more time together as a band will be your best practice....and just think ,no one will be able to cover your songs exactly like you play them cause your songs time will be different each time you play..lol
as a very analytical person I have to disagree. If we are not playing in time, especially on the covers, then we will sound really bad. A lot can be said for feel and energy in songs, but starting a song at 90 bpm and ending it at 120 bpm is never a good thing. (unless it has intentional tempo changes)
I thinke we will sound much better without: bass lines that are supposed to be syncopated 16th notes that comes out sounding more like a bad attempt at triplets, or hits not syncing up, or rests that last a 16th note too long, dragging, rushing, etc.
 
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