Incorporate the Metronome with Guitar

August 25th, 2010

I’m sure by now, assuming that you have followed GLC for quite some time, you have noticed a trend that points to learning the guitar from home rather than paying for expensive lessons.

The truth is, yes, we do advice instructional DVDs, personal guitar courses and informative DVDs over private lessons because we do think they are just (if not more) effective. However, learning the guitar alone can unknowing create bad habits, inconsistency and quite possibly worst of all – overlooking key concepts that you originally believed were not that important.

That is why this article is dedicated to individuals who have been picking up the guitar by ear. Guitarists who utilize this method are generally what we would call “natural” musicians with a special ability to pick up a new skill quickly, sometimes without the aide of any other program or resource.

For example, I once knew a young man who would jam out with a guitarists well beyond his skill level. The young man loved music and loved being around great musicians even more. Consequently, he liked to hang out with advanced players and “pick their brain.” He would often watch the skilled individual play, stop he or she when something of interest was played and then ask how he too could learn that particular section.

Then, the young man would attempt the very same notes asking for corrections when it did not sound right. After he got the basics down, the young man would go home and practice the very same section over and over again.

While there is nothing wrong with learning the guitar via this method, picking up the instrument by ear may force the aspiring musician to overlook one very crucial element – time.

Yes, time.

We’re not talking about the hands on a clock, but rather “staying in time” or staying with the beat of a song. The beat, or the timing is the heart and soul of a song and without a beat you have no pulse.

I’m sure by now you’re screaming, “Duh!” yet you would be surprised how many novice guitarists forget this incredibly important aspect.

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Let’s start with the basics. We’re going to assume that you’re already familiar and have practiced the common cowboy chords or – A, G, D, E, F, E.

Note: For a great “cowboy chord” jam, search guitar lessons for the song “Gloria”

Unless you have a skilled drummer and some really chill neighbors at your disposal (if only we were all so lucky), the best way to learn to follow the beat and stay in time is by playing with a metronome. You need to use a metronome every time you practice the guitar. It’s a flawless source for a perfect, constant beat that is extremely affordable (sometimes even free).

Start out with an easy 4/4 timing, which is four beats to a measure. Play only quarter notes. As the metronome springs into action, count 1-2-3-4 with a foot. On each count, strum down on the strings.

Now, set the metronome and practice this at different speeds (beats per second) until you feel comfortable with it. After practicing the most basic rhythm pattern for awhile, make things a little more challenging by adding an additional complexity such as strumming on the eighth notes.

Here, you’ll strum on the up stroke along with the down strum in between the beat. Got it? That means you will strum down on the click of the metronome and up at the half beat (or the “&s” below)

Note: If you want to count along, “One & two & three & four &, etc”

Once you have mastered the beat of a song, you can stay on time with any song assuming you have already learned the chords. Sure, different songs have different rhythms but when you get a good understanding and “feel” for various beats of the guitar, you’ll also discover that the learning phase will be that much effortless.

Remember! It’s not that difficult to play guitar: Learn the chords, follow the beat and use a rhythmic strumming pattern.

Click Here! For a free online metronome.

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