I use a metronome app on my phone for band rehearsals and gigs. At home I just play without one. Some times I can't quite sync up with it, but I think it still helps me stay steady with my tempo. I use a head phone amp with 2 inputs. One has my metronome, and the other input has my band monitor mix (at gigs). That way I can control the mix between the band and the metronome. I use 3M peltor ear buds that don't go over 82 decibels, so they arn't too loud. At rehearsals I don't have the band in my ears, and I feel a little disconnected, but it works. With the app I have all of our songs in order, so it's like a song list also. I have my phone clamped to my hi-hat stand. I just touch the song I want and it starts.
I always play with some sort of click, 100% of the time. Been doing it for 28 years now, and will continue to do so.
Be it an actual click, a programmed track to follow, or music, it's the easiest way to solidify your time, and it's so freaking easy to just plug in a time keeper.
Drummers get the blame for bad time, don't give anyone an excuse to blame you. We are all responsible for time, being able to play with a click exposes everyone else's lack of time.
The only time I didn't use a click was when gigging. Otherwise, bpm's were always discussed and agreed upon when writing new material. The tempo was written down right next to each song on the whiteboard in the jam room. Everyone knew the time and was responsible for it. Everything that was recorded was done so with a click.
You could be the most technically void drummer on the planet, but if your time is strong you are already steps ahead of those who can't play with a click.
Playing to a click is a useful skill today, to the detriment of music many times and there are many reasons to not always use one.
There are still man y ways a metronome is a useful tool, though.
1) The most obvious is to make you aware of your tendencies.
2) Another one would be keep track of progress plaing a piece ir exercises.
3) Putting the click in other places in the subdivision other than on the beat is a very good exercises as you have to really focus and it's in many ways like playing along with someone going something that's challenging to relate to.
4) You can have the metronome lay off for various lengths of time and work on getting back in. There are also play-a-longs , like the Turn It Up Lay it Down, series, to work on this.
5) Simply having the 2 & 4 going when working on swing is good and in that case it's not som bad as it's how you push in relation to that which decides the feel. Certainly not just for drums, especially in this case.
I use the Pro Metronome app. Easy to use and has eveything I'll ever need.
A separate metronome is good as you can leave the distracting unit away from your pracice space, but I only have an old iPad and I prefer an app because of the options, most important of which is simply choosing a sound I personally find pleasing to work with.
I really want to use a metronome for my gigs but it becomes hard to concentrate on Clicks and well as listening to other musicians. The troublesome part i noticed when during cymbal swells or places where there is only vocals with synth. The drum clicks gets lost in the sound (Even with hard sticks).
How have you guys dealt with this?
I think MOST drummers should use them all the time until they can internalize time. I think there are a lot of drummers that think they have excellent time and it could be improved. I always play with a click during practice and while recording. I don't use one jamming with the band and playing gigs, although we are going to start soon to keep things rock solid. It's easy to waver 5-10 bpm playing 200+ bpm metal stuff.
While doing rudiments etc it makes sense to do it, or find a song that is recorded in time to play over.
My thoughts were, if you need to ask if you should use a metronome, the answer is 100% yes..
More than playing to a metronome, is important knowing how to play to a click, either with a metronome of any percussion, for example, drums.
The benefit of using a metronome is that it's a precise beat, your clicks will always be 106 bpm if you want them to. With a drummer you have room for error, even with the best drummers, with metronomes that error is almost indiscernible.
So, you practice with a metronome, you tighten your sense of rhythm and timing, you learn how to relate your movements with a click, which you can move to any context.
If you learn to only play with drums, you will have a hard time playing with songs that don't have drums.
With a metronome you can work in a quantifiable way your speed (how fast you can play), rhythm (keeping the groove) and timing (playing the appropriate note at the appropriate time). All the music player should practice with a metronome from day 1.
I prefer Live BPM to a click. I use Pro Metronome on my phone to store set lists and to get an accurate count off for 2 measures then stops and then use Live BPM on my Ipad during the song. I play in a rock band with stage monitors and a click in IEMs seem to be a little too confining. I can relax and enjoy playing with Live BPM better than a click. For recording, I prefer a click.