Playing in a live band can be very challenging rhythmically because the thing that really makes a live band sound great is keeping the rhythm and groove happening. It’s so important to practice to some sort of rhythm when you work on your instrument whether it be keyboards, guitar, bass or drums. I’ve written about practicing to a beat and not a metronome and I still feel that practicing to a beat is the best way to get good at playing rhythmically. Practicing to different types of beats will teach you to play in a musical groove. With that being said, there are times when you want to practice with a plain old metronome.
The main reason for practicing to a metronome is to increase your playing accuracy. You want to be able to play notes and phrases as cleanly and clearly as possible when you play. The best way to practice your accuracy is to have a metronome keeping a simple, steady pulse. You simply pick a tempo, set the metronome and start playing whatever you want to work on with the metronome. Start at a slow tempo until you can play each note cleanly, on the beat and then speed the tempo up. The second goal after accuracy is increasing your playing speed. Everyone wants to fly through the scales but they sound bad when they’re not played accurately. Once your accuracy is good with the metronome, speed it up. This formula is simple, time tested and it works!!
I have a metronome on my computer but I always start checking my e-mail, or reading about becoming a better musician. I’m going to suggest that you purchase a credit card sized, Seiko DM70 pocket metronome today. They’re handy and you can keep them in your practice area as well as taking them along with your instrument wherever you go. Having the handy metronome I am able to leave the computer off and really focus on my playing and nothing else.