Walking around the house develops impeccable musical timing

Walk around the house for impeccable musical timing

By Mattie O'Boyle

How can walking around a house develop impeccable musical timing?

Earl Scruggs, shook up what was country music when in 1945, at just 21 years old, he joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys band. The impact of his three finger banjo picking was immediate and immense, and many a banjo picker today still spends years of practice trying to master the “Scruggs style”.

But apart from popularizing the three finger banjo technique, Scruggs was know among musicians as having impeccable timing. Scruggs used to tell the story of how he developed that timing. When they were kids, he and his brother Horace would stand in front of their house and start playing a song together. Then each one would walk around the house in a different direction and their goal was to be perfectly in sync when they met up again at the back of the house.

Let’s take a step back and analyze that home grown rhythm training. It points to two crucial aspects of developing your rhythm. The first the ability to establish a steady rhythm, and the second is the ability to maintain that rhythm.

But you don’t have to walk around the house to develop impeccable timing. Nowadays there are other resources available. One of them that I use at my school, I am going to share with you today – that’s what we call the “Metronome With Holes”.

What is a Metronome With Holes?

I make a metronome with holes by recording a metronome and then editing the recording, occasionally eliminating groups of four beats (easy level), groups of 8 beats (medium level) or groups of sixteen beats (expert level).

Then you just play along with the metronome and, when you hit a hole, you keep playing. When the hole ends, you listen to make sure that you are perfectly in time.

Do you want to give it a try?

Here is a group of Metronomes With Holes; an easy, medium and expert metronome at 120bpm. If they are either too fast or too slow, you can use a software to change the speed. Many of my students use Timestretch, a free online program, but there are many options available.

Now you have the right tools, so it is time to put them to use. Work these Metronomes With Holes into your practice routine….and if anyone asks you why your metronome has holes, tell them to go and ask Earl.

Download the metronome files here.

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