In this post, I am going to show you how to practice jazz with the metronome. This is a crucially important skill you need to develop in order to play with clear and secure time in jazz. Check it out!
Jazz Rhythm Explained
In jazz, we really think a lot of beats two and four as having emphasis. When we’re listening to a jazz rhythm section or drummer play, the drummer is actually playing the hi-hat – the cymbal. The cymbal is snapping on beats two and four and it’s called the backbeat.
That’s sort of a fundamental syncopation that drives the rhythm forward in jazz and so as a more advanced protocol you can actually practice with the metronome ticking on two and four.
Change the metronome to make it half the tempo that it was at before.
When we were at quarter note equals we said 78 so we’ll say 80 and I’ll go to a quarter note equals forty. That means that it will be around the tempo we were at for the first one. This is a little too slow so I’m going to put it on 44 and then we will turn it into beats two and four.
The first few times that you attempt this, it may take some time and you may notice you’re pulling away from where the metronome is because again, there’s a little more distance between each one of the ticks. If it helps you, you can count aloud or if it’s not too distracting you could tap your foot or bounce your knee a little bit on all four beats so that you can see the connection.
In the long run, this is how you’re going to want to be doing a lot of your practicing when you’re playing a medium swing or any swing feel is having the metronome on beats two and four. Let me go through that process one more time.
Once again this is ticking at forty four which means the tempo is double that so that means it’s quarter note equals 88 because this is beating on beats two and four only so remember we start out waiting for a tick and then start counting two then two three four one two three four.
How we can practice with the metronome in jazz:
Step 1: Practice with a metronome ticking on all four beats of the bar to get us used to practicing with the metronome and working on our time a little bit.
Step 2: Practice with the metronome ticking on 2 & 4 and take your tempo whatever it is. Cut it in half – if your tempo is approximately 88 then you would set the metronome for 44 and then once the ticking starts when you hit the next tick, start counting on beat 2 , then you can count 4 beats in the bar as you’re playing along with a metronome or you can tap your foot or sort of jiggle your knee.
I do hope you start to practice with the metronome. My experience is as soon as you start working with the metronome on a daily basis all of your playing will improve quite dramatically!
Here is a quick tutorial on practicing with the metronome in jazz. Brenda Earle Stokes, creator of online courses Piano Skills for Singers, shows you how to get used to using the metronome for practicing – something you should be doing every day! (Make sure to hit subscribe and leave a note in the comments below!)
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