What Does Jeff Berlin Have Against Metronomes?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jasper383, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    In the recent Bass Player magazine, the MarkBass advertisement has an editorial by Jeff Berlin. He discourages using a metronome, arguing that it was not invented to be a practice device.

    He says practice out of time to learn your lessons well (?).

    What exactly is his disagreement with using metronomes?
  2. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    in the past he's said to get a piece under your fingers first THEN practice it with a metronome .
    Luigir and timplog like this.
  3. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    I remember a past interview with Jeff. He mentioned that percussionists from different cultures played mind blowing rhythms on their instruments. These musicians don't sit and practice with a metronome. He also mentioned that American's are always looking to rely on some device like a tuner or metronome. He said that you won't find any tuners at his Player's School.

    He makes some valid points; however, I feel like these tools are helpful. They are a part of our culture (and other cultures). Jeff said that a metronome won't help you if you have poor rhythm. I think that it can if you have a good teacher. A metronome doesn't give you good rhythm. It does allow you an opportunity to work with something constant.

    I find the metronome to be a very useful tool. If I am trying to work a difficult passage up to speed, I can measure my progress. It works for me.

    cpeterso, timplog and roccobass like this.
  4. peekster

    peekster In Memoriam

    In the dim, distant past, I spent some time on the road with Jeff Berlin. I already knew he was a monster, but I got to see and hear him demonstrate that, night after night. And half of those nights, I had to follow him on-stage!--now *there's* a pressure situation for you.

    IMHO, many of today's current bass 'stars'/shredders/household names [which I won't mention, for the sake of general tranquility] have absolutely nothing on him, either as bassists or overall musicians. And I think the smarter ones know it.

    Anything he says, I would take very, very seriously.
  5. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY

    Luigir likes this.
  6. zombywoof5050


    Dec 20, 2001
    I figured it out, you've got to be Jerry Peek!

    I saw you with the Steve Morse Band on a double-bill with Alan Holdsworth. The giveaway (other than your name) was when you said you had to follow Jeff Berlin on half those nights, because y'all would trade off being the opening act. That show I saw was back in '83 in Houston at Fitzgerald's the night of Hurricane Alicia.

    Good to see you here, and I've seen you play with Steve Morse on at least a few occasions!

    Edit: Ahhh, I thought I was so clever figuring out who you were. I checked your other posts to see if you'd mentioned it elsewhere, and you hadn't. But I just checked your profile a second time, and I saw it as your instant messenger name. I swear I didn't see that the first time. :)
    Eli_Kyiv likes this.
  7. Hey Hey! the cat's outta the bag! And it wasn't me...nope it wasn't me! :D

    Hi Jer! Glad to see ya on TB!

  8. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    From reading several interviews over the years that are a tad more in depth than the MarkBass blurb, I get the feeling that Jeff is okay with practicing with a time keeping device for polishing something that is already "under your fingers". Which is far different than using one when first attacking a piece or exercise.
    Jeff's a monster.
  9. peekster

    peekster In Memoriam

    <<Hey Hey! the cat's outta the bag!>>

  10. Ludwig van Beethoven was the first composer to put metronome markings on his written music. I suspect he thought it was quite a useful device. great for practicing Rubato too.
    timplog likes this.
  11. maybe he had a childhood "experience" with a grandfather clock so tick tick tick drives him insane?
  12. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    I like your signature :D
  13. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    I think if you're learning a piece you should generally allow yourself time to get the pitches & rhythms right first without worrying about chasing a metronome

    BUT... in the real world, it's sometimes good to have a relentless tick that you can't slow down or stop for... imagine if you had to sub at the last minute for a show, had the score plonked in front of you and you had to read it all... you just have to plow on regardless of how many mistakes you made... so the discipline of playing with a metronome, without stopping can sometimes be useful

    what exactly is a metronome there to do, improve your sense of time by forcing you to align yourself to an accurate pulse?? is there any evidence that this actually works? I think many bass players would be better off playing with a good drummer... and guess what? even the world's greatest drummers speed up & slow down
    timplog likes this.
  14. Thunder_Fingers


    Jun 24, 2004
    Well, i think it makes sense... playing with a metronome when learning the piece isnt realy neccisary, you end up having to start right from the begining....

    Though, using a metronome when you have the piece "under your finger" would help i believe...

    Though timing exercises probaly have best of being practiced with a metronome....
  15. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Well, IMHO using a metronome is a good thing, for 2 reasons.

    1.) Playing in time with a machine is a valid technique in todays music world. How many of you have done a recording session and played to a click track? Or to a pre-recorded drum track. Sure there might be musicians on the track that slow and speed up, but they won't be reacting to you. How many of you have played a show where there is a click track and pre-recorded parts? Responding musically to something that will not respond to you is an interesting and challenging musical goal.

    2.) When learning something that is technical in nature, it is difficult to keep steady speed. Sometimes we slow so the fingers will move, and sometimes we speed up from excitment. How many of you have heard drummers pick up tempo on a fill at the end of a phrase (and then keep that faster tempo)? Having a constant reference is a good thing to making your fingers do what they have to do.

    And finally.... if I had the talent and experience that Jeff Berlin has, there would be a long list of things different about my playing..... and practicing with a metronome would be way down on that list.
  16. clayton


    Jun 26, 2005
    I think playing with a metronome is a must if you're planning on ever recording something. How else would you be able to lay down a bass track upon which guitars drums or whatever would go on? You have to a click going on or you wil be out of synch, IMO.
  17. michele


    Apr 2, 2004
    IMO and IME, as always the thruth is in the middle. You need to practice everything both ways - with and without metronome.
    Practicing with a metronome will actually "teach" you what does "playin' in time" means (as well as how to play backwards and forwards).
    Practicing without a metronome is equally important as it will help you to develop an inner sense of timing.
    With the due respect to the man and the player, I've always found Jeff Berlin to be extremely "straight" when expressing his point of view about musical education. Black or white, right or wrong, etc. etc.
    Life is a little more complicated, Mr. Berlin ...
    Jefenator likes this.
  18. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2001
    Holland, MI
    Jeff Berlin says lots of things.
    Jefenator and Just go for it like this.
  19. Jeff is very opinionated. But remember, transcribing and playing along with the track can also teach you good time, and you get to play with some of the greatest drummers in the world.

    As a side note, Jeff is an incredible teacher and I am still working on stuff he gave me 9 years after taking lessons with him. I am also a 5 string fretless player and he didn&#8217;t deride me for it. In fact, he told me &#8220;To each his own&#8221;.
    roccobass likes this.
  20. daveonbass

    daveonbass Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2001
    Waupun, WI
    Just because Jeff Berlin might not like using a metronome doesn't mean anything other than for him he sees using a metronome in one way, while others - even other very accomplished bassists - might see it quite another way.

    Instructional videos by John Patitucci, Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey and many others all talk about using metronomes and give varying ways in how they can improve your timing and playing.

    I especially like a VW technique where he recommends slowing the metronome down and seeing how far apart you can get the "clicks" before you wind up playing out of time... Hard to do when the click is like on 1 of every 4 bars or something that spaced out...

    weird_hermiston likes this.
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