Wednesday 19 April 2023


A couple of weeks back someone on YouTube mentioned that I was a great guitarist and made really good arrangements, but my tempo is a serious weakness. He was very kind and apologetic about it - but I was grateful because it is true and I should do something about it.

This is where I insert my standard joke "I would use a metronome but I haven't found one yet that works properly."

Background: yes I had some group lessons when I was in primary school, but by the time I was around 11 I'd stopped having all lessons and I haven't had one since. When you teach yourself, you only concentrate on what interests you and you end up with big holes in your musicianship. One of my biggest shortcomings was that playing by myself I never bothered to develop an internal clock. If I had have played with others, or against a backing track or even metronome, I could have fixed this a long time ago.

Fast forward, I now play pretty regularly at my local church, and I tell you, it was SO HARD to begin with, I couldn't track a beat whatsoever! Even now, a few years on, if I start a song solo I am sweating bullets trying to hold a steady tempo. Once the drummer kicks in I'm not too bad at following these days.

All three of my kids play instruments, and I made sure they all played in ensembles, and they continued to for years. Their tempos are all thusly impeccable.

So after the friendly YouTube commenter nudge, I pulled out my phone and browsed up a metronome, and I played several songs... on beat! An actual metronome that works! To be fair, every now and then the metronome was slowing down, so I would also slow down to let it catch up, but really, it wasn't awful. A lot better than the maximum 30 seconds I've ever put up with a metronome before.

Moreso, I have been playing at a fixed tempo slower than how I would normally play, which is hard indeed! And I have played with that metronome at least 4 times over the past two weeks!

So to my fellow DIY musos out there - if you aren't going to play with a band, at least force yourself to play with a metronome or backing track. Easy to say, hard to do, but it is worth it 👍

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