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3 Destructive Myths About Using A Metronome For Guitar Practice


Most "conventional wisdom" about using a metronome to practice guitar leads to ineffective practice, unnecessary mistakes and slow overall progress. Get more benefit out of your guitar practice by avoiding these 3 myths:

Myth #1: Using A Metronome Helps Build Your Guitar Speed

Using a metronome does not increase guitar playing speed. A metronome is used as a test to assess your current level of mastery with a particular technique or practice item.

Pay attention to things that cause your guitar playing to break down at faster speeds. Refine your guitar technique by practicing away from the metronome (usually at slower speeds). Later, test yourself again to see how much progress you've made.

Myth #2: Everything Has To Be Practiced By Using A Metronome 

Guitarists who practice with a metronome all the time often get locked into using quarter notes, eighth notes and sixteenth notes when they solo. They rarely use dotted notes, triplets or rests in the middle of a musical phrase. This creates too much rhythmic similarity in your lead guitar phrases and makes it harder to be creative.

Your guitar solos become more expressive when you use a variety of rhythms to create tension and make your playing more interesting. Spend some time practicing without the metronome and challenge yourself to create many rhythmic variations on a simple 4-6 note phrase. Vary the rhythm freely, but keep all the pitches the same. Then, use the metronome to lock your timing into place.

Another practice tip: Practice playing scales and arpeggios using many different rhythms (instead of strict 16th notes or triplets).

Myth #3: Practicing With A Metronome Limits Your Rhythmic Creativity

A metronome only limits your rhythmic creativity if you allow it to happen. The best guitar players use a metronome to develop their rhythmic creativity. Here is how: Set the metronome to a moderate tempo (such as 90-120 beats per minute). Begin to freely improvise rhythm guitar riffs using a single power chord. Challenge yourself to use rests, syncopations and unusual rhythmic values you don't typically practice. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone forces your creativity to expand.

This exercise also trains you to play perfectly tight to the click. This skill is crucial for playing well in a band, recording music quickly and improvising guitar solos over backing tracks.

Want to get excellent results in your guitar playing from every guitar practice session? Apply all the points in this article right away.

Tom Hess is a professional touring musician, composer and successful rock/metal guitar teacher. He helps guitarists around the world learn to play guitar online. On his website, you can find guitar playing tips, free guitar resources and more guitar practice.

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