Metronome Online metronome app offers several advanced functionalities that you can incorporate into your practice. These include subdivisions, beat patterns, and various time signatures.
Let’s explore some exercises you can use to enhance your practice and improve your musicality.
1. “Set” the metronome to the offbeat
This exercise doesn’t actually change the metronome setting but rather focuses on how we perceive the metronome pulse. While we are accustomed to hearing the metronome marking the downbeats, it is less common to hear it marking the offbeats. At faster tempos, this means accenting beats 2 and 4 (as opposed to beats 1 and 3), similar to the way you would hear the hi-hat in jazz. Set the metronome to a comfortable speed and then play an exercise (e.g., a scale or melody), starting on the “empty space” and aligning your second eighth note with the metronome (or quarter note at faster tempos, such as beats 2 and 4 in a 4/4 time signature).
2. Set the beat pattern to eliminate certain beats
Our metronome allows you to set a beat pattern of up to 16 beats. If you are playing in 4/4, set the metronome to 16 beats and then vary the number of beats played within each 4-beat group. For example, the first group can have all 4 beats on, the second group beats 1, 2, and 3 (with beat 4 off), the third group beats 1 and 2 only, and the fourth group only beats 1 and 4. This exercise helps you practice your internal sense of time during longer gaps and also develops your sense of the 4-beat group as the metronome accents get displaced.
This exercise requires you to put your instrument down. Set the metronome to a slow tempo and practice playing different rhythms simultaneously using your hands or hands and voice. For example, try playing quarter notes with one hand and quarter-note triplets with the other hand (or using your voice). Ensure that each rhythm lines up precisely with the metronome clicks. Gradually increase the metronome tempo as you become more comfortable with the polyrhythms.
4. Playing the offbeats
This exercise focuses on feeling the offbeats – sixteenth notes at slower tempos or eighth notes at faster tempos. As an example, if you listen to Afro-Latin music, you’ll notice that the offbeats or syncopations are inherent in the music. To start practicing this exercise, set the metronome to a comfortable speed. Begin by playing a syncopated sixteenth note phrase (e.g., x-x-0-x x-x-0-x). Once you are comfortable repeating this pattern, start dropping (not playing) the second downbeat of the repetitive phrase, so that you only play the first downbeat. Then progress to dropping both downbeats and continue playing only the offbeats. Initially, do this only once, and then see how many times you can repeat the phrase without the downbeat while staying precise with the offbeats. It can be challenging to do this for an extended period, but the idea is for you to “hear the downbeat” without playing it and truly feel those offbeats.
5. Rhythmic Displacement
Select a challenging rhythmic pattern, such as a syncopated phrase. Set the metronome to a moderate tempo and play the phrase, ensuring that the strong beats align with the metronome clicks. Next, displace the pattern by delaying the starting point so that the strong beats fall between the metronome clicks. This exercise improves your sense of time and trains your rhythmic flexibility.