Above: Four guys with a steady sense of time (L-R) – Doug Smith, Mason Williams, Mark Hanson, and the late Nokie Edwards of the Ventures. At the 2005 Grammy Awards in L.A.
Many students – and some professionals! – have trouble keeping a steady tempo. (“That darn metronome – something’s wrong with it!”) Speeding up is usually the problem, although dropping or adding beats happens, too.
For some developing musicians, counting out loud as they play can help, but, in my experience, students often can’t count out loud while playing, or the counting simply speeds up along with the guitar playing.
Here’s a possible solution:
On your smart phone or recording device, record yourself counting out loud while a metronome clicks along with you. Count on the beat: “1-2-3-4”, or “1-2-3” if it’s a waltz. Then, play it back so that you hear the counting and the metronome together while you play your guitar. Stay with the beat as you play; the idea is for you to match the steadiness of the metronome to stabilize your sense of time. (There are apps available that do this: SpeakBeat and MetronomeBot to name two.)
Give that a try and let me know how it works for you. More about time in music in the next installment!