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Timing who needs a mentronome?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by fuzzy beard, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. I found this to be very interesting!

    And in my unskilled opionen i agree!
  2. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I learned that way ... and he said it during the video ... a metronome is like a drummer. It may help you stabilize or solidify what you just learned. But to be able to use a metronome you have to know the music first.
  3. Jeff is a polarizing figure so this could be interesting... My internal timing seems to be pretty good (As with everything, I'm sure it could be better though) and I don't use a metronome. However, I do use a drum machine sometimes so it may be considered the same thing.
  4. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Didn't he just disprove himself in that anecdote about Gary Burton?
  5. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    i'm not sure what comes next in the series ...but i always thought it was obvious that you have to struggle with something new for a bit to get the notes under your fingers before you put the metronome on ....

    at least that's what i tell my students - once you have it in your hands put the click on and practice slow.....

    actually ....for my students who are learning difficult stuff i suggest they play to the actual mp3 slowed down to a comfortable pace in WMP.

    i wouldn't hazzard to argue with a talent like that but i can say metronome work has helped me emensely over the years with guitar/ bass.

    to add from my own experience - i like to watch movies and practice bass when alone ....hate to waste an hour .5 that i could be plucking away ....but i notice if that's the only kind of practicing i do, and i don't keep on my right hand exercises with a 'nome, i get uneven.
  6. GeoffT


    Aug 1, 2011
    I don't think he is doing himself any favors with the way he presents it. If he simply said "don't use a reference when learning the notes or something new", he wouldn't get so much flak. All the examples he gave, rock and latin players and the rest, they got good at playing in a group by playing with a reference beat whether it was a real drummer/band, a conductor, or a drum machine, not by playing in a vacuum all the time. The examples with the camera man or line dancers, they both have an external reference beat. A metronome is just an external reference.

    The recommendations that I've seen and received to use a metronome are not to use it to try to develop perfect mechanical time, it is simply to get used to playing with a reference and to keep you from speeding up/slowing down or rushing/falling behind, which is how he said his buddy used a drum machine. I haven't seen too many people that recommend using it while you are still floundering with finding/learning the notes, which is the exact situation he used to show why a metronome is bad.

    Unless you are performing solo, you need to be able to work with a reference, I don't see why it is so detrimental if the reference has perfect time. Granted you won't get the opportunity to speed up or slow down like you would with a real drummer, band, or conductor, the key is to be able to adjust to get back in synch if things should momentarily go awry. You shouldn't have to rely on the reference since there will always be times when you are solo or the reference so you should definitely get some time in with no reference beat.
  7. FrednBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    In my opinion: Overall, a bad video (because his arguments are very poor) trying to say something really good.
  8. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Nice video, and now we are getting somewhere with Jeff and his metronome problems. Jeff has in the past painted himself into a corner over this subject and it seemed like there would be no way out for him to back track on what he says. Jeff say "controversial" but the reality is he was being nieve in his understanding of how and why metronomes work. So it's a move forward to have him talk positive about them in a small way.

    The problem with Jeff and metronomes is he looks for positive validation, but does not count un-seen validation.
    So the South American example is true, but also false to use it to validate. All these players may have a timing, but it cannot be proved or validated how good it is, it can also not be proved or validated if they would have had better or worse timing from using a metronome.
    The Rock 'n' Roll example is the same, and I have met plenty of famous stars that cannot play in time.

    It is true you cannot learn in time as Jeff says, you have to learn it, then put it in time....everyone is the same no matter what we learn. From a speech to a song, to building project, to car maintainance, to playing it is all done in small stages then put together to form the finished result.

    Jeff used to just say 'NO' about metronomes, now he is starting to talk about the right way and the wrong way, which is what he should have done from the start. He now sees a metronome as a tool, as a way to calibrate once we have learned. True a metronome does not give you good timing, it helps you understand timing. As Jeff says you cannot play what you do not know, but more over you cannot play in time what you do not understand....a metronome by being constant helps you to understand....a metronome calibrates your brain.

    So any exposure to any pulse or rhythm is calibration. The length of time or even the fact that you are aware of it or not is calibration.
    This calibration can start in the womb, it can start as an infant, child, or adult, but it does happen. This is where Jeff used to come un-stuck, he does not truly understand what he is talking about, he is only talking and showing the effect of it....not the cause.

    So a metronome is no more usefull than stabilisers on a bike, water wings on a child, even a baby walker, in as much as the will not teach you to ride a bike, swim in the water, or be an athlete.
    But what they do is give you some of the pre -requisit skills involved so you can learn them. One learned you do not need them again, and so it is with metronomes. Once you learn time signatures all the metronome will do is prove you right or wrong, then prove you right or wrong in a tempo, then prove you right or wrong in a tempo over time.
    So in that example the first one is about learning, the second one is about use, the third one is about physical application.

    This is where Jeff makes another of his mistakes, he cites the use and application as the learning part. As far as I know most teachers and other players have always agreed that it is how you use the metronome that is important, but because Jeff never explained this ( and how could he because he never understood it himself ) he painted himself into that one line that metronomes were bad. Rather than taking the time like many respected teachers to show students how best to use a metrome, he just argued a mis-understood point about them.

    Now I will say that I have had my run-ins with Jeff in trying to explain to him how and why he is wrong in the way he presents his arguments about this matter. I will also say they we used to talk a lot in e-mails and social networks, forums etc. and we are 99% in agreement in out beliefs as we had the same musical experiences, teachings and sort of up bringing if you will. Even know Jeff uses some of the idea we talked about and even cites and quotes some of the presentations I made to him in an effort to make him understand how and why metronomes work.
    For my part I agree a metronome will not give you timing, but it will calibrate what you have learned and the result of that will be better understanding of timing so the end result that is seen...that can be quantified....is better timing. What you do not see is the skills that were already there already, the un-seen skills that came together to support your timing.

    One of the things I used to talk about with Jeff was the modern need for instant results, the impatience to learn correctly. A modern trend to attribute blame to something, as of the correction of this blame will make it right. I used to talk about a "leap of faith" in my education where I just accepted something to learn that seemed un-Important or I did not see the purpose in, and then later down the line it bridged a gap to tie two very important ideas together.

    So I came from an era of feeling that use words, in particular Italian terms, not BPM for me there was no digital 1234 at 70 BPM.
    For me that was Andante, and Andante was a feeling of tempo not a number. Depending on who, where or what, the feeling of Andante may be +- 10 BPM either side of that 70 , it may even be another term like Moderato, so I never ever learned to play to a metronome. But what the metronome done was calibrate the tempo for all players in the room to understand the feeling we were to use.
    After all my idea of Andante my not be another players idea of Andante when you consider the variations that are in it.
    So if you want to look at Italian or German musical terms, you will see that the word implies the feeling of the tempo rather than an exact number.

    So if we talk metronome lets get it in context, let's understand how and why they work ( as it is with beat boxes, drum machines etc ) rather than just saying no.
    For me, again, it is big respect to Jeff for going this far on the subject and clarifying a point, and showing an example of it in a positive way.
    And that is all we used to talk about really, if Jeff with his reputation, talks about the positives in music rather than the negatives he will get better results and more people listening to him.

    As I said to him if I say one thing and he says another....he will be believed...even if I am right and he is wrong, his reputation opens doors and buys him time from people to listen to him.......this video for me is a great leap forward in having people listen to him rather than argue with him or seek to de-value him in some way.
  9. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    I agree with Jeff for the most part. The metronome is a good tool for checking yourself on tempo, but Jeff is right, if you want to have great time you have to develop that yourself. If you're learning fretless, you have to develop your ear not depend on a tuner to tell you when you are in tune.

    I do feel that a metronome is a great tool for develping technique. Learn your scale out of time, like Jeff suggests. As you learn your scale out of time you are also practicing without tempo, and that's good for a while, but after you're pretty sure where the fingers go, you have to have something to let you know when to stop thinking about the next note and play it at the correct time.

    Good technique is all about putting notes in the right place. Playing with musical sensitivity is all about communication with other musicians, and Jeff is most correct, you can't get that from a metronome.
  10. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I grew up as a rock player in the '70s and became fairly proficient -I could hang with any ensemble and had decent time and plenty of chops. Cutting tracks to a click was not the norm back then.

    In the mid '80s I had the good fortune to do some tracking with the late Larrie Londin (a great guy and incredible drummer) who wouldn't cut anything without his little click-in-the-ear rig. He was very nice to me (younger and far less experienced) but also told me in no uncertain terms that if I wanted to take it to the next level I HAD to start working with a quartz metronome. I am forever grateful for that advice!

    I've done a lot of recording in the interim, both with and without click and appreciate both ways for what they are...but would heartily recommend that any player who has recording aspirations spend some time learning to work within the framework of a metronome. It's vital if you want to be able to work in recording.
  11. odin70


    Dec 26, 2007
    Here we go again..discussing if Jeff is right or wrong, good or bad. Just like he has planned in order to get attention to his school. Having said that..i agree that if you dont know anything, a metronome will not make you play better..But if you do know your scales and chord tones IT WILL. If you use it the right way. Ask every drummer in the world.
  12. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Wrong ! It is being discussed because the OP saw the video, and decided he wanted to see if others had the same opinion as himself, so he started this thread.

    Cant blame Jeff for that.
  13. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I've played with "good" musicians who couldn't play to a click in a band setting. It just pointed out that they had there musical minds on other things and time wasn't one of them. That's the problem that the click can bring out. If you're playing stuff in a band setting that interferes with being able to follow the click then you shouldn't be playing those things.
  14. odin70


    Dec 26, 2007

    Why do you think he posted the video on youtube in the first place? ...because he knows that we and many others will discuss it. And some of us are going to praise him and maybe take a trip down to Florida.
  15. Well then that's just good marketing!!! Nice work, Jeff!!
  16. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    That's your call to do or not. No one is holding a gun to your head.

    Again, you cant blame Jeff, if you decide to give your 2 cents worth. ;)
  17. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    The Internet is a big place, to think that Jeff posted it just for TBs benefit is very shallow thinking indead.
    This type of thinking is what will de-rail the information being presented. That information is valid and cannot really be challenged in the way it would have been done in the past from Jeff.
    The 'absolutness' of the way Jeff used to present such info is gone, so let's not go reading his past or intentions into it, but take the info as being presented. :)
  18. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Maybe I'm missing the point of this debate, but...

    I look at metronomes and tuners in a similar light. They're tools I use, but don't have to depend on. Just as I needed to develop a good sense of time, I needed to develop a good sense of pitch.

    Yeah, I seriously practice internalizing the groove--both with and without a timing reference. (I find it very helpful to use a metronome or drum machine to practice pushing the beat, or laying behind the beat.) And ear training is part of my practice, too.

    If the point is that one ought not be dependent on a metronome or click, I'd agree. I'd also say that a tuner is no substitute for a good ear! (Added: just as learning fingerboard patterns is no substitute for hearing the pitches.)

    But it doesn't follow from that observation that they harm one's musicality, in themselves.
  19. Well there must be some underlying issues with Jeff here. Did I miss something?

    I posted the vid because it is the first time some one has put into words the way I feel about timing. I play mostly jams and I find a lot of players will all play the same song different. Some let the music breath as Jeff said. So if I play like a metranome then I end up rushing the music.

    I agree it is a great tool! But some times its nice to just feel the music. Also the point about studio musicians makes tons of sense!
  20. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Years ago I worked in a trio with no drummer.
    We used a drum machine ( for financial reasons).
    The machine was boring but steady as hell.
    When we had gigs that paid more we hired a good drummer and both the piano player & I would instantly notice when the timing varied with a human drummer.
    So metronomes do serve there purpose when it comes to learning good timing.

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