Justin Sandercoe of justin­gui­ lends GT his in­sight as one of the world’s most suc­cess­ful gui­tar teach­ers. This month: Time train­ing

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - Get more info and links to re­lated lessons on all Justin’s GT ar­ti­cles at www.justin­gui­­mag

Justin Sandercoe, Scott Hen­der­son, Mitch Dal­ton, Jam Tracks, One-Minute Lick and more.

Reg­u­lar read­ers of my col­umn will know how much I waf­fle on about the im­por­tance of rhythm. Some of you might also know that I sell an app called the Time Trainer Metronome and I hope you’ll for­give this ar­ti­cle if some of it reads a bit like an ad­ver­to­rial. The app came about from want­ing these tools my­self for my own prac­tice and as­sum­ing that oth­ers would find them help­ful too – and it would seem by its pop­u­lar­ity that peo­ple do.

The first train­ing mode I’d like to dis­cuss I call Bar Breaks. The gen­eral ideas is that you play some­thing (most of­ten a rhythm part) along with a metronome and then the click stops for be­tween one and eight bars and you keep play­ing and hope that when the click starts again that you held your tempo solid and are per­fectly in sync. I found it a LOT harder than I thought when I started do­ing it. Even stop­ping for a bar can be tricky for most peo­ple when they start out - once you get used keep­ing your tempo, try last­ing a few bars. Man­ag­ing to keep per­fect time for eight bars is some­thing I find very dif­fi­cult; I’m get­ting bet­ter and I know this app is help­ing and I’m sure many of you will find it an amaz­ing prac­tice tool.

In the app you can set how many bars you have at the start to get in the groove and then how many bars the click will drop out for and how many bars of click you get be­fore it drops out again. I rec­om­mend a min­i­mum of 3:1 ra­tio of solid to silent, par­tic­u­larly when you start out; then, when you get to the big­ger breaks, take even longer time to lock into the tempo.

The next train­ing mode to ex­plore is the Ran­dom Beat Drop­per. I found this most ef­fec­tive for things like scale prac­tice when I found I was al­most lean­ing on the metronome. The RBD does what it says on the tin and ran­domly re­moves the click at a per­cent­age set by the user. The ef­fect is that you change your re­la­tion­ship with the click from some­thing you rely on to a kind of pace run­ner that you can check in with from time to time but are not de­pen­dant upon. To start with you should be drop­ping just 10-30% so you get used to the the beat drop­ping, but where it gets re­ally fun is mak­ing the drop rate over 60%, so less than half the clicks are there and you’ll have some bars with no clicks at all. Your chal­lenge is to keep your time solid and make sure that you don’t al­low the miss­ing beats to throw you and that, when there is a click, you are to­tally locked into it. There is a grad­ual set­ting too so you can slowly in­crease the num­ber of clicks that will drop and help you ac­cli­ma­tise to a more full-on zone.

The Speed Up­per train­ing mode is su­per ef­fec­tive at speed de­vel­op­ment for licks, scales and any short phrase that you want to push your limit on. Sim­ply set a start and end tempo and a time for the ses­sion and off you go. Do re­mem­ber not to in­crease the speed too quickly, and that if you start mak­ing mis­takes you are go­ing too fast and should stop and re-as­sess your tem­pos. Prac­tice makes per­ma­nent, so prac­tise per­fectly!

The one thing I didn’t like about the Speed Up­per was for grooves and rhythm el­e­ments where prac­tis­ing speed­ing up doesn’t seem a good idea. So we de­vel­oped

the ‘speed up­per’ mode is su­per Ef­fec­tive at speed de­vel­op­ment For licks, scales and short phrases

the Step Up­per which, as it says, al­lows you to change tempo af­ter X num­ber of bars or a de­fined time pe­riod. This is awe­some for those more com­plex rhythm pas­sages where you might want to re­ally get locked into a groove at a set tempo be­fore the speed goes up. I know this train­ing mode is su­per pop­u­lar with drum­mers.

The last thing I want to men­tion about work­ing with the metronome is mak­ing things feel good – some­thing I go on about quite of­ten but I re­ally think is a key ele­ment of prac­tice. If you’re work­ing on any­thing other than pure tech­nique de­vel­op­ment, al­ways re­mem­ber that it should feel good. When you feel com­fort­able and re­laxed you will play bet­ter and peo­ple can pick up on that kind of en­ergy and feel good too. I still spend time play­ing sim­ple grooves with a metronome and mak­ing them feel good, and I think that kind of prac­tice is re­ally help­ful for most play­ers, no mat­ter the level, be­cause the bet­ter you get the more im­por­tant (and harder) the ‘easy’ things be­come.

Please ex­cuse the plug - the Time Trainer Metronome is avail­able for iOS and An­droid and has rave re­views from all over the globe. I hope you check it out and find it to be a su­per Time Trainer. Wish­ing you safe and fun trav­els on your gui­tar jour­ney!

Justin says his Time Trainer app might just get you play­ing in time

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