Use several metronome techniques for drum set practicing. Most of us have a “Love – Hate” relationship with the metronome. I had a conversation recently with a fellow percussionist about working on the Stone Stick Control exercises with a metronome. See: Stone Stick Control Order for Speed. She said that she was ready to throw the metronome out the window. We’ve all been there haven’t we? But there are several good reasons to almost always practice with a metronome. I use a Korg MA-30 metronome (replaced by Korg MA-1) and a pair of inexpensive headphones. The only adaptation I had to make was to get a mini mono to stereo jack. My headphones are stereo and the metronome output is mono. Without the adapter the sound came out in only one ear.
Maintain a steady beat
This is a “must” for a drummer. Is any more of an explanation even necessary? We don’t have to deal with key signatures, chord changes etc. At least we should be able to maintain a steady meter and tempo.
Measure your progress
I try to write down the maximum controllable tempo I am practicing an exercise. When I get more comfortable, I increase the tempo a few clicks. I continue to do this. Because I have metronome markings I can push myself and measure my progress. I can also practice at slow tempos which presents and different set of challenges.
Ability to play at ANY tempo
This reminds me of a story. It was early in college and I substituted on a few shows with a semi-pro big band. One night the leader chewed me out about my tempos. Not that I couldn’t hold a steady beat. I didn’t continually rush or drag. The problem was that I would just settle into the tempo that I wanted. He said HE didn’t care what tempo I thought the tune should be played. It was my JOB to play the tune at the tempo HE thought it should be played and the one HE counted off. I never forgot that lesson and do my best to try and lock in on the tempo the leader counts off. Besides HE is the one who usually signs the checks.
Which leads me to the next metronome techniques for drum set practicing item. I usually fall into the habit of practicing exercises with-in a 10 click +/- tempo range. What I have been doing lately is drastically varying the tempos. The obvious is to try and play faster and faster. But it can be an eye-opener to play the exercises I think I have mastered at slower and slower tempos. There have been times in a rehearsal or performance when I wondered why I couldn’t play a fill or groove as cleanly as I usually did in the practice room. The conclusion I reached was because I was now playing them at different (usually slower) tempos. Spend time practicing a couple of settings faster AND several settings slower than where you are used to practicing. And for the record, I don’t enjoy doing this either. Frequently I am the one ready to throw the metronome out the window.
You may also want to see: Practice with Pomodoro Technique