How to Improve Timing
Years ago I made my “smart metronome tracks” that can be found below (primitive). You can watch the video below to see and hear how I practice my timing, and check out my metronome album if you are interested in downloading practice tracks for your own. A better resource is the Doctor Drone app that my friend Eddie Ludema and I built. Same tools, more functionality.
While most musicians are encouraged to use a metronome to develop a more accurate sense of time, research in neuroscience suggests that playing with a metronome and playing without a metronome utilize different regions of the brain, thus making them different actions altogether. Since research also suggests that musicians are better at timing, and timing can improve with practice, there seems to be a need to bridge the gap between practicing without a metronome, and practicing with a metronome. The next logical step is to use a device that has some beats present while others are silent.
Metronomes are not bad for us, they help us play with better time, however, we as musicians can become dependent on this external source of tempo. We can go on “auto pilot” by letting the metronome do most of the work. I wanted to create a practice method that allowed musicians to reference and “check in” with an external tempo source but also challenged our attention and focus. I have developed a “randomized” metronome to help musicians develop world-class proficiency.
This album is a collection of practice tracks that musicians can use to help develop more mindful timing. These tracks are designed to help develop independence with maintaining an accurate tempo. Each tempo has been randomly “cut up” so some beats are audible, and then some are missing. A player must maintain consistent tempo in order to continue to “line up” with the beats as they become audible. In keeping up with the 21st century, these tracks are available online so musicians can download them onto whatever portable device they wish. No more need to carry around a metronome. Your portable Mp3 player can provide all of the help you need!
Each track starts with a 4 audible beats in time, and then it starts a random pattern where sometimes the beats are audible and other times they are silent. Play along with a track (or even sing a tune while a track is playing), and you will feel how much more effort and concentration it takes to play in time than with a regular metronome!
As of right now, here is an “Intermediate” album. Intermediate tracks provide an audible beats for roughly 50% of the time. These tracks show me how far I have “drifted” with my time.
Metronome - Intermediate