Someone once said that music is pretty jealous and demanding. You gotta invest some time into it if you want to improve. Ask anyone how to become a better ukulele player, and they will tell you to conquer the metronome with your ukulele. Why should you use one anyway?
The metronome is fundamental for any musician to stay focused on that beat, on that timing. See, music is about rhythm and consistency. Metronomes help you with that. Once you master that tool, your playing, rhythm, confidence, and enjoyment when performing with others will increase.
Getting a metronome is very easy these days. Just download an app using your phone when a physical. Again, conquering the metronome will ensure that you develop a habit of playing consistently. How can you do that anyway?
How to conquer the metronome with your ukulele
Everyone looking for improving their skills at playing the ukulele will use a metronome. Apart from that, there are other 4 bits of advice to become a better ukulele player. In short, you improve your skills by:
- Being consistent: Commit to practice every day. If you are serious about being a great ukulele player, consistency is key. As said, music will only stay with those who invest time in it.
Getting on your ukulele each day should be a habit. You don’t have to spend a lot of time by the way. One hour will do, but the more you practice, the better you get.
- Join ULTP: Indeed, you learn how to play the uke on your own, but it is easier when you have someone to guide you and back you up whenever there is a chance.
By joining ULTP, you get access to several courses that you can pick up anytime, get feedback from other ukulele lovers by asking or sharing your comments in our forum, get weekly challenges, and more.
- Use a metronome: As mentioned before, this tool serves as a guide to help you play with rhythm and time. See your ukulele experience as navigating through the see. While going here and there can be fun, it won’t lead you to a specific port.
In this imaginary example, the metronome is like a compass that will tell you where the north is so you can put all your efforts into one goal at a time.
Set sail with no compass and you will be nowhere. Play your instrument without a metronome and you will likely be out of rhythm and time. Metronomes are this important!
Read more: When to replace your Ukulele Strings
- Avoid the comfort zone: What does that even mean? Being in your comfort zone means that you keep doing things that present no challenge for you. Playing the uke without a metronome is a good example.
Stepping aside your comfort zone would be, then, using a metronome. Yes, it is difficult, it is trickier, and it adds a new challenge, but it is only when we face our limits that we can go beyond and improve, right?
- Learn basic music reading: Music is a language. As such, it uses symbols and certain terms that will come in handy when learning new music skills or when taking conversations with other musicians.
You don’t have to be an expert though. Just start with a small step, and then go on with another. In no time, you will see what you have done so far and tell yourself: “Wow, did I do this?” That feeling is so great to be missed!
There is a lot more we can say on these lines, but, for now, we will be exploring some tips for being used to the metronome.
1. Place small challenges
As an instrument player, you already have to pay a lot of attention to everything. So, adding a new element, listening to the metronome, can be overwhelming. Yet, giving up the metronome is not an option. What to do then?
Just start with something you can handle, from a point you feel confident with, and build up from there. You may want to set your metronome at 60 beats per minute (bpm), that is, one beat every second. That’s slow enough for you to catch up.
2. Feel the beat
Make things even easier. Get rid of the ukulele and follow the metronome clicks with your foot or clap as you count. By doing this, your body will memorize the beat, and you will feel it.
Do this until you feel confident enough. Also, always take some minutes to do this before using the ukulele to help your body memorize it. In the end, you will be so used to it that you will do it without thinking about it.
See the metronome as your friend, see this as a game: can you follow the beat for a long time? Give yourself a small prize when you beat the beat.
3. Increase the difficulty
For better results, it is a good idea to use a metronome app so you can stick an earbud to listen to it. At the same time, your free ear can focus on your instrument’s sounds.
To increase the challenge, hold a C chord and strum every time you hear a click from your metronome. The goal here is to stay focused on the metronome while adding some more movements.
4. Vary the rhythm
Instead of using quarter notes, you can consider using half notes or whole notes. It gets trickier this way. But the idea is that you can get used to other notes as well.
As you feel comfortable with these, challenge yourself even more by using eighth and sixteenth notes. You should play so perfectly that the metronome’s clicks seem to disappear.
5. Change the tempo
Next time is making the tempo faster. You may add 5bpm more to that 60bpm and repeat until you get to 100bpm. Can you do that?
As you do this, note how the gap between clicks narrows as you increase the tempo. This is a great way to both challenge yourself and gets some confidence in your skills.
Do you feel like having a bit more help with the metronome? Reach us and share your concerns. You can also consider joining our ukulele community at ukelikethepros.