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Check out JamPlay's free online metronome. A metronome is a device that keeps a steady beat. It is very important to incorporate a metronome into your practicing to help you develop a sense of timing. It will help you maintain a steady tempo and know how much time to give to and between notes.
The metronome is the most annoying tool to ever serve a purpose. In the past 10 years, I have found that there are two types of people... (1) badass guitar players who have practically married a metronome, and (2) sloppy amateurs who despise it. Which one are you? Get to work my friend, as this tool can seperate you from the rest. Get started by clicking the play button, or changing the count (number of beats), speed or accents.
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This is a good way to practice scales using a metronome that will help you get a feel for beats:
The key to playing fast, is the accurately play slow and gradually ramp up your velocity. In terms of accurate playing, this can
fall into two categories. The first is "scrambled". Let's say you are playing a solo with a faster run, or a riff with a higher tempo then you are used to.
If you haven't mastered the speed, it turns out scrambled. Notes are noisy, a bit sloppy, and definitely muddled.
The opposite of this is "refined". Instead of playing through the riff in a panic, you simply match the tempo and move on. No panic, no sloppiness. It doesn't even feel "fast" anymore.. just at a different tempo. Only then is the technique truly mastered, and this rarely happens without a lot of metronome work. Here's how to get it going:
Here is another, less common technique for increasing speed with a metronome:
This exercise is beneficial because learning to play music slowly will help you develop a better sense of the time given to and between each note and will actually help you play better. To make playing with a metronome more interesting you can make the click the upbeat rather than the downbeat. This gives the exercise or piece that you are playing a swing feel that is heard frequently in many styles of music.
Here is a summary of some effective tips to get the most out of your practicing:
Practicing should be a time when you develop your strengths (hopefully with this metronome!), learn new things and eventually become a better player. Because there are many elements involved in practicing, it's always a good idea to have a plan. Try to be consistent by including your practice time in your schedule. Following is an example of how a one hour practice session can look like:
10 minutesWarm Up Exercises
20 minutesLearning New Scales
20 minutesImprovisation / Writing
Find a place that is free from distractions and comfortable for you. Unplug your phone and keep the TV off. In the right conditions, one hour
of serious practice with a metronome is more effective than four hours playing in front of the TV. Keep that in mind!
Planning ahead of time what you will work on is a powerful thing. A good way to do this is to prepare your next practice session at the end of your actual practice. That way you will be able to pick up right where you left and just continue to build your skills in an effective manner. This is only an example. Your practice session will most likely look a little different than this one. Each individual should prepare their work session according to their own skills and needs. Some other essential ideas are below.
Practicing your instrument is much more efficient when you know what you need to work on. Honesty is the key. It can be quite easy to fake your way out of a hard solo while playing in a band. But when you are alone
with your guitar, you should be honest with yourself and be aware of your weaknesses.
For example, some of your friends might say that you pick very fast and they always complement you on that particular technique. It makes you feel great, but you know that if you were to play the same thing in front of some better players, you would be embarrassed. That's something you would want to focus on while practicing.
Don't try to speed up your learning progress. This is especially true while working on developing speed with the online metronome. Playing fast is very easy to do, but takes a long time. Speed is something that takes time. Your job is to work
on training your fingers to play with precision. That should be your main focus. If your fingers are precise and know where to go, speed will follow naturally. Don't burn any steps! The same goes for any technique or
musical concept you are working on.
Everything that you learn should be played at a speed that feels very comfortable to you. Don't worry about trying to impress yourself with speed while practicing. Impress yourself with clarity instead. Working at an easy tempo with the online metronome is the best way to ensure a solid technique and serious progress.
Guitar virtuosity is often compared to high level sportsmanship. Both require much work while avoiding injuries. Preparing your practice sessions can help you prevent muscle tension and unnecessary pain. You should make
sure that you spend enough time warming up.
If you are sincerely trying to become proficient (think guitar as a career), injuries are bound to happen, as you are asking your hands to do something very unnatural over a long period of time. Listen to your body, pay attention to any lingering fatigue, and know when to give those hands a break. Pro musicians tend put down the metronome, and "hit the books" to brush up on theory while giving their hands a rest.
Massaging your muscles is also a very efficient way to warm up while avoiding injuries. You should try to keep that in mind while practicing. Take time massaging your wrists and fingertips before working out on your
guitar. I find it extremely effective to spend the 1/4th of the time you worked on a specific technique massaging. If you consistently use that ratio of workout/relaxation, your technique will improve faster.
It is also important to spend time stretching. Your palm opposing your body, gently pull your fingers of your left hand towards you. Doing so on a regular basis will help you reach larger intervals on your fretboard.
If you practice everyday seriously, you should try to take a break from your instrument for a day. Just like an athlete, you need to rest. Your muscles need to relax and your technique will actually benefit from that
time off. Breaks also keep you from losing interest. I always find it extremely gratifying to pick up the guitar after a few days of rest.
During a long practice session, make a point to take regular small breaks. Get up and stretch your back. Take a small walk and drink plenty of water. You will be able to last longer in your work session and avoid frustration during your study.
Don't pass the opportunity to learn something new. We all have our own musical tastes and no one is asked to be passionate about all styles of music. But keep an open mind when it
comes time to learning. All musical styles have this in common: they use notes and rhythm. There is always something to get out of a musical idea.
A great idea is to take a song, no matter the style, and try to find something that you like about it. It can be anything: a sound, the feeling it gives you, a rhythm... Isolate that element and try to understand why you it. Once you determined what makes it appealing, use the free online metronome and write a musical idea using that element.
When you are working on a specific technique, be attentive to all the movements you are making to achieve what you are doing. Once you are aware
of these movements, analyze them and eliminate all the unnecessary ones.
When playing at high speed, you can't afford to lose time with the superfluous movements. Eliminating them is preserving time and energy. Once you spotted these movements that don't need to be there, work on eliminating them and think about ways to achieve the same effect without any wasted energy. This can be quite a difficult task, but the pay off is amazing. The correction must be done at very slow speed.
Keep track of the metronome speed you are comfortable playing at and raise the bar very gradually. Raising the speed by two beats per minute every three days is a fair progression. If you find that you are struggling at
a certain speed, slow it down. You need to be comfortable at the tempo you are working with.
If at all possible, record yourself playing. At the end of the week, listen to what you have and take notes. Write down anything you you hear that you don't like and take that into consideration.
Try to remember practicing with both lead and clean sounds. The reason is that if you practice with distortion all the time, you will feel that your playing sounds terrible in clean sound and vice versa.
Your technique should sound good no matter what sound you are using. Clean sounds and lead sounds both have their advantages and inconveniences. Force yourself to get to playing with all kinds of sounds.
If you are serious about practicing and improving your skills in a consistent way, you might consider setting up a design practice room. Find somewhere that you will use only for that purpose. If you can have a room where everything is already set up for you, you won't waste superfluous time arranging your space. Keep your tuner, metronome, spare strings and necessities organized and ready for immediate use.
A serious musician is like an athlete, your body needs to be as healthy as possible to retain all the information you will learn in your daily practice sessions, make sure you get enough sleep. Not only will your hand and arm muscles be able to accomplish more technical difficulties, but also you will be able to retain more information.
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