How To Be a Rock Steady Time Keeper

March 17, 2011

The drummer’s main job is to keep rock steady time. You are the designated person in the band who establishes the tempo from the start. You set up the groove. And once you set up the groove you stay there, like a clock, until the end.

So what steps can you take to be a rock steady timekeeper? The first thing you need is a metronome. If you don’t have one, get one!

The drummer establishes the correct song tempo for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is so the song is comfortable to sing. If you’ve ever tried singing a song in the wrong tempo it is very difficult and uncomfortable. Ask any singer and they will agree. All of your band mates, especially the singer look to the drummer to be the conductor in this department.

In most cases it is your job as the drummer to count the songs off. You really only have one chance to get the tempo right. You count the song and boom off you go. There’s nothing worse than realizing the song is too slow or too fast after the song has already started.

The steady quarter note pulse of the music is what causes listeners to clap their hands and dance to the music. If your time is all over the place – By that I mean; If you speed up and slow down throughout a song then you’re not only going to piss off your band mates, but you’ll also make the dancers upset and they won’t come back to see you.

If you call yourself a drummer and you’re not practicing with a metronome, I can recommend a good doctor for you. Just kidding, ha!

Metronome’s start about $20 and run as high as $150. The metronome I use is the Boss DB-90, Dr. Beat. What I like about it is that it has quality sounds, you can easily adjust BPM’s using the spin dial, and you get exact song tempos using the start/stop button.

The metronome is probably THE most important tool in a drummer’s toolbox. So don’t be a ‘tool’ and practice with one.

Give me your feedback!


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