When it comes to making music, timing is incredibly important. All it takes is one person to be off tempo, and the entire ensemble can be thrown off beat. This can be a disaster, especially if the incident occurs at a live show. Throwing the group off at practice is bad enough but in front of fans? That can be a recipe for disaster if all musicians involved cannot recover quickly. If timing seems to be an issue, there are several steps an individual can take to rectify the problem. The old saying, “practice makes perfect,” is not too far off when it comes to making music. Everyone has their own method of working out problems, but there are some proven techniques that are well worth a try, especially a metronome.
Practicing alone is an excellent way to start working on any timing issues. The wonders of digital technology can be very beneficial when it comes to getting in quality practice time. There are hundreds of timing related apps that you can download onto a smartphone, such as these five popular Metronomes:
Metronome Plus is available for iOS. It is a simple metronome app that can help even the most off tempo musicians find the perfect timing again. It has multitasking capabilities so you can read sheet music or tabs at the same time you are utilizing the metronome function. It is accurate, loud, and includes a tapping feature that allows the individual to gauge the tempo, including customized programs.
Time Guru is available on both iOS and Android. It was developed by Avi Bortnick, a professional guitarist, and it does everything one would expect a quality metronome to do, plus some. The app allows the user to mute the sound in random intervals or via a set program. This can help with timing as it will reveal if the musician drags out the notes too long, or clips it too quickly. Muting the tempo can help increase a sense of time, strengthening the ability of the player to feel the music, instead of becoming dependent on the sound.
Tempo/Tempo Advance is available on both Android and iOS. It is a full-featured version of the more basic Tempo Advance, which is another popular app. This advanced version has a variety of features that include compound meters, custom rhythm, and assorted time signatures. You can also have tabs or sheet music up while utilizing this metronome. There are additional pros that come with this app, including volume control via the phone’s volume.
Dr. Betotte is an iOS app that runs a little higher than the average app, but it is worth the cost. This unique metronome has so many different features even professional musicians will likely never use them all. It offers a vast variety of funky rhythms and unusual beats, really allowing the musician to self-challenge. One unique feature with this app is the capability to program the metronome to slowly increase the tempo. The gradual increase can help the beginner work on speed, and the experienced musician fluctuates in practice.
Metronomics is an iOS app which features a beat randomization that pushes the musician into quick changes. This unusual feature may confuse some users, but realistically, it will really hone the skills of those who utilize it. Some songs may have a consistent tempo, but others change things up frequently. This metronome allows the musician to practice those quick changes randomly, increasing a feel for the music itself and eliminating dependence on a pattern. Any player that can follow the random pattern and stay on tempo will have vastly improved timing skills.
There are a few other ways to improve timing, such as a drum machine, or a keyboard. They usually just allow for a basic beat, faster or slower in most cases. The digital age has opened the door to quicker, easier ways for musicians to practice and record music, and the metronome apps are on the top of the list. Smart technology, from phones to tablets, is capable of downloading digital metronome apps. The important part is researching and locating the metronome app that works best for the individual and features the tools that can alleviate any timing issues now, or in the future.
Your Turn to Sound Off!
What apps do you use to help your playing?