As a follow-up to my post on how to use the metronome, I want to share with you one of my favorite resources for practicing with the metronome: I think of it as a metronome alternative. Here is how I use the Drum Genius app.
How to use Drum Genius:
Drum Genius is an app that you can get for your smartphone, tablet device or computer that allows you to play along with not just a drum machine sound, but actual sampled drummers who are playing in the style of some of the great masters.
You don’t get a robotic drum sound, you get a very natural drum sound that comes in a whole ton of different styles from a variety of medium swing jazz up-tempo, swing ballads, straight eighths etc. It also goes in to play all these cool Brazilian grooves, shuffled waltzes, New Orleans feels, even some odd time signatures and some pop rock material.
What’s really great about Drum Genius is that it usually is about a 4-bar or an 8-bar phrase of the drum groove and you can practice along with it ad nauseam. You could play forever with this loop that’s going on and depending on the style of the song you’re working on, you could try out a few different grooves to determine which one helps you with your improvising or helps you with whatever you’re working on.
How to Practice with the Drum Genius
I’m going to practice walking a baseline and comping along with Drum Genius. This beat is called Swing and it is under swing medium (slow one) and all it is is a basic ride pattern:
I can actually change the tempo on Drum Genius if I want to work a little bit slower or a little bit faster or if I want to try a different groove all together. Let me try a different medium swing groove at the same tempo. This is Victor Lewis on ‘Come Rain Or Come Shine’ from The Cruisin’ The Bird which is a Bobby Hutchison record called Landmark and this is what Victor Lewis plays. This is approximately the same tempo as the last piece that we were playing but it’s got a very different feel so this makes it a little bit more interesting for my practicing.
It becomes really fun to practice because it gives me some very different information. Right now, I’m playing a very strict comping rhythm in my right hand so if I wanted to get a little fancier and try some different rhythms out, I actually have a lot of rhythmic information that I’m getting from the Drum Genius which is terrific. You can explore a different one or try some different grooves. I’m going to show you something fun that I like to do for classical practicing.
Even if you’re not practicing jazz per se, I love to use the Drum Genius app for practicing classical etudes for classical pieces. This particular piece is a choral journey etude. It’s one of the etudes for the left hand and it’s in 4/4 time with a lot of sixteenth notes in it. Rather than just practicing with the boring old metronome, I actually like to tie in the Drum Genius playing a Baiāo: a Brazilian style of music that is very sixteenth note heavy.
This is way more fun than just the typical metronome. The additional bonus of this is that I get to hear the subdivision of the sixteenth notes.
The Drum Genius app is so much fun to practice with and it’s a terrific metronome alternative. I love to practice this myself and I also have students including my younger piano and classical piano students that actually love Drum Genius too because we get to fiddle around and play in different ways. It’s a sneaky way to practice with the metronome and you’ll get to hear some extra subdivision so that was what I love about the app Drum Genius
I am a big proponent of practicing with the metronome and
force encourage all of my students to practice with it all day long as often as possible. If you’re like me, you are probably keen on finding fun ways to make developing strong time and rhythm a priority. Enter Drum Genius – a fabulous app that is like having your own personal drummer to play great grooves at a variety of tempos.
The cool thing about Drum Genius is that the drum grooves are sampled from actual drummers playing specific grooves. Some of my favorites:
Roger Hawkins on Paul Simon’s Kodachrome
Jeff Porcaro on Toto’s Rosanna
Baiao ala Duduka Da Fonsco
Classic Backbeat like Louis Bellson on “Blues Around the Clock
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