How to use a metronome for drums

As a beginner, using the metronome to practice drumming can be quiet difficult. This article focuses on how to use a metronome for drums to help you get the hang of it.

Metronomes are used by drummers and other musicians to keep time. They come in different sizes and shapes and produce a click track that plays at certain set tempos. The click sound is measured in beats per minute.

It basically has the same idea as a drum machine; the only difference is that the drum machine is more advanced. Drum machines play full beats while metronomes do not. While it is not an essential instrument for drummers, it is an important piece to have as it can teach you to play better and new grooves.

You can choose to incorporate the metronome into your show and also while you are practicing with you brand. However, playing live with the click track may be a little harder to set up at first. You will find it distracting but you can always turn it off while you are on stage. Whenever you are practicing at home, make sure you use the metronome. It will help you stay in time and keep track of your progress, making you a professional drummer in the long run.

When playing at a show, you can choose to place the metronome behind your drum and use your earphones for a simple set up. Make sure the rest of the band is following your timing. Once you catch the groove, you can turn it off half way through and play without the metronome. The second option is to have an ear monitor system besides you and incorporate the metronome into the mix. Essentially, you are placing your trust on the person in charge of the sounds not to mix it up or turn it up for the audience to hear.

Strategies for Drumming With a Metronome

Increase your tempo gradually over time

This is one of the best ways for beginners to get in rhythm with the metronome. The technique requires drummers to start slow and increase the tempo systematically. You can choose to do this on a weekly basis or through a single practice session. Taking 20 minutes out of your day for several weeks can help you get the hand of using a metronome quicker. Start at a slow tempo and increase 5-8 beats per minute every day until you are perfect.

Shift your beat depending on the click

Shifting the beat can help you develop a good internal sense of subdivisions. Shift the metronome to higher notes instead of hearing on the downbeats. You should do this for all subdivisions on the beat and also try it with sextuplets and triplets.

Change the subdivision

When practicing at slow tempos, the quarter click will definitely have a lot of time/space between the pulses. Doubling the tempo on the click will give you more reference points, reduce any room for error and make it so much easier to play along to. The cycle starts again as soon as the tempo increases.

Outline the subdivisions – Line up the clicks with every subdivision for more reference

Interpret the click as a group

This is meant to help you learn how to internalize the different pulses. It is difficult strategy; the drummer needs to interpret the click as a note grouping. This way, you improve your internal clock, get better internal polyrhythmic impulses and also create an implied metric modulation.

The metronome relay

This is a simple technique. The drummer id required to play through 4 levels. Each of these levels provides you with a given amount of audible clicks. As you move on from one level to another, the timing cycle remains the same but you will lose the measure of clicks.

Practice at different tempos

For some drummers, certain tempos are very difficult to play, especially when they are paired along other beats at different speeds. Varying the speeds on the click of the metronome should help you fill all the tempos and play the beats. At different tempos the metronome will help you work on the weak spots and get rid of them completely.

Displace the beat

The metronome click does not always have to be on the downbeat. With certain genres of music, you can play very well when the sound is off the beat.

Displace the click

If you are and advanced or intermediate drummer and are looking to lock in a goose sense of timing, try assigning the click to different positions within the subdivision.

Practice your areas of difficulty

If you are new drummer, there are definitely areas where you find difficulty playing. Use the metronome to practice the bars that usually derail you from the groove. The metronome can also help you find other weak spots and perfect your beats. Loop the bars of whatever beat you find difficult to stay in time with.

Whatever you do, don’t give up on the metronome until you are perfect tat drumming. Mistakes alike speeding up and slowing down during fills happens to the very best of us. As a beginner it is common to speed up during fast tempos or rush fills when tempos are slow.

Final word

Now that you understand how the metronome works, it is time to incorporate the instrument into your practice routine. It may seem boring and difficult at first, but the benefits are worthwhile. Start with basics beats and work your way up systematically. Practicing and playing the drums with a metronome is a huge learning experience for an drummer and can improve your skill greatly.


How do you preserve the tempo of a drum?

Practicing with a metronome is the best way you can preserve the tempo on your drum. The metronome helps you develop a food time keeping. Once you are comfortable with playing basic drum beats, the metronome can help you get better at creating a groove.

Don drummers listen to metronomes live?

Metronomes are largely used y drummers as a practice tool to keep their beats on time. The tool is essential for practice sessions, live performance as well as recording.

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