Developing your internal metronome

What follows are exercises to develop your internal metronome, which allows you to keep track of the beat and while not giving it your full attention. This allows you to sing over it, dance around it, make tea or place drum notes about it without losing your connection to it.

It will help to get used to keeping time with your leg or another part of your body too. Being able to think of many things at the same time and still continue playing is also very important and good for developing the ability to listen to others, while continuing to play what you're playing.

For the purposes of these exercises it's essential that you keep the time in some fashion because we are trying to teach our brains to play certain notes relative to the beat.


A basic pattern and shifting the pulse around.

Start slowly and say the following at a contact tempo:

one ee and a two ee and a three ee and a four ee and a

Good I'm sure you sound suitably hilarious in your chosen accent

We will use this basic structure to explain the following exercises for both communication and as a learning aid, but from now on we will write it like this:

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a

The numbers are marking the quarter-note pulse. The "1e&a"'s are all 16th-notes ("semi-quavers"), all four grouped together are the same length as a quarter-note. (for the maths people - 4 x 1/16 = 1/4 ) Our pattern repeats itself every 4 beats.

Now do it again except this time use your body to keep the time (and mark the pulse i.e. the numbers) every time you say a number.

You may like to stamp your foot or nod your head or sway from side to side. I recommend tapping your foot.

Next we will put in bass notes on the numbers (which represent the beat) and tones on the other quarter notes (e & a) and also continue to keep the time with our body (using our head or foot or whatever you prefer). Keep saying saying 1 e & a while you're playing, you'll see why in a minute.


Key: B = Bass
T = Tone
S = Slap
F = Flam l = left hand (swap these if you're left handed) r = right hand (swap these if you're left handed)

So you will play B T T T B T T T B T T T B T T T while saying: 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
B T T T B T T T B T T T B T T T
r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l



Exercise 1b

Now do the same thing again, but play the bass on the 'e' and tones on the rest (including the numbers, or the beat). Be sure to keep tapping your foot (or what ever you're doing) on the beat (as you say the numbers).

So you will play T B T T T B T T T B T T T B T T while saying:
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a, and tapping your foot on the beat.

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
T B T T T B T T T B T T T B T T
r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l



Exercise 1c

Now try the same thing but the bass on the '&'.

So you will play T T B T T T B T T T B T T T B T while saying:
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a, and tapping your foot on the beat.

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
T T B T T T B T T T B T T T B T
r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l



Exercise 1d

Now try the same thing but the bass on the 'a'.

So you will play T T T B T T T B T T T B T T T B while saying:
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a, and tapping your foot on the beat.

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
T T T B T T T B T T T B T T T B
r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l

There are many other note combinations >>

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