~ the metronome / b p m / focus in on time ~

~ 'hits on '1' or finding the swing 2 and 4' ~

~ 'keeping time, rhythms ... to syncopate' ~

'... once we synch our thinking up with the moving beats of time, the skills needed to make music all come together as one'

~ keep time play rhythm and don't stop :)

"The more upbeats you have in the music, the more it swings."
wiki ~ Dizzy Gillespie

In a nutshell. There's so much learning and skill strengthening coolness associated with the clicks of any metronome that its tough to figure where to start. For with a bit of imagination, jamming along with the steady beat / clicks brings all of our musical skills together while moving through real time.

In the beginning. When first starting out with any metered clicks, thinking along styles rules the learning, defines the two path here; if the music you love hits on beat 1 in 4/4, it's probably leaning to rock stylings. And if the '2 and 4' beats are accented, a pathway to the blues hue jazz stylings of a backbeat swing rhythm initiator.

One way or the other just start clapping along with your music, your favorite song right now, feel its pulse and start counting along 1 2 3 4 and clap with the groove, counting become a measure into the form a song which loops over and over the same way every time :) Find a pencil and write down the sequences of numbers U come up with, look for the patternsm share them with your collegues and mentors. And that's how we know and can learn the tune :)

Build some chops. When first starting out with making music in time with the clicks we need; some chops, pitches, rhythms, chords, form, a thought process that combines all these skills together plus our imagination. These'll all get a workout as we 'click' our way through moving time in a song's tempo.

When making music in time with the clicks we need; some chops, pitches, rhythms, chords, form, a thought process that combines all these skills together plus our imagination. These'll all get a workout as we 'click' our way through moving time in a song's tempo.

The super beyond coolness about jamming with clicks is that however we do it, however we think of the beats and meter and rhythm of the song and style we're playing, it'll help move us through musical time. And as we get better at our craft, how we perceive the clicks evolves. So there's no end to this pathway of rhythmic evolutionary coolness for our rhythms ? Could very be. For our development is both in mind and body, matching thought with physical, two ever evolving challenges.

Click = snare pop. So a bottom line here is to get used to playing with the clicks, enough so that you can in thinking, anticipate the next one's arrival. This basis we can transfer to anyone else's 'clicks' we're jamming with. And is especially true when working with a drummer with 'good time.' For if we can consistently anticipate and successfully sound our notes with a metronome, piece of cake to hear a drummer's 'hits on 1' or '2 and 4' pops and lock right in.

Make time to pause ... and think a bit. The clicks also give us a way to 'pause' this whole process, while the song and its form, continues on its way as each of the clicks / beats are sounded. For at any point along the way, we can take a bit of a respite of sorts, to 'layout' is the slang term, and let some beats go by, giving us a chance to think, take a breath, conjure up an idea of what to play next. We then 'pick up the beat' and blend out lines back in. For the improvising musician, this aspect of working with the clicks might be beyond measure, strengthening up all of our music making abilities together in one fell swoop.

For thanks to the clicks, our imagination works in real time, keeping a song's form, its notes, chord changes and tempo glued up. For Americana musicians, we'll use the eight bar song and 12 bar blues form to format these studies. For these two forms create the basis of of form and phrasing for the majority of our songs, all throughout the spectrum of our Americana styles and genres, easily for the last 100 years or so and counting.

In a nutshell. There's so much learning and skill strengthening coolness associated with the clicks of any metronome that its tough to figure where to start. For with a bit of imagination, jamming along with the steady beat / clicks brings all of our musical skills together while moving through real time.

In the beginning. When first starting out with any metered clicks, thinking along styles rules the learning, defines the two path here; if the music you love hits on 1 it's probably leaning to rock stylings. If note, we've the '2 and 4' backbeat swing rhythm initiator.

Chances are


The bare bones of time click by click. For readers here that are a bit further along in their studies, know that the clicks encourage us to practice 'in time' while having to imagine the rest of the music sounds that surround and support the lines we create. We imagine the musics that we weave our ideas into. For with our own love of music, we've now listened to our faves on the radio and beyond for years, so there's a ton of music already in our heads to draw from.

"Tis indeed the 'bare bone' clicks that provide us the blank canvas for our own imagination. We pick a style, find a pocket within, add clicks for beats to create measured bars of music moving through time, and off we go. Somehow our mind can conjure a memory of music from our listening and we begin to fill in a new canvas.

Takes a while. Beyond cool really as the clicks create a musical space of moving time for us to be creative within, that all of the stories in all the styles are included too, we're unlimiting our own imagination each time we play our musics with 'bare bones' clicks. Creating this physical space, and getting it under our fingers is pure natural for some. And for the rest of us mere mortals, we head for the shed :)

And powers us through the boo boo's. Focus and concentration right ? Will help us win the day getting our parts just right as we play our songs and tell our stories. And the boo boo's ? Well, we all know about those. Shedding with the clicks helps power through a mistake and get back on track with the song, just like when performing. So no stopping along the way of the song, then fix the mistakes after the end etc.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

How to start with the clicks / just try to land on one. Click the metronome and play along, try to sound your note right 'on top' of a click.

1) Let some clicks go by and catch their groove, then think to 'aim one of your notes' towards an upcoming click. One note at a time, try it a few times till ya get it.

2) Advance this by alternating a note with every other click as it comes along.

3) Advance this by now playing a note on each of the clicks, moving on through time on the '4 to the bar' big swing generator.

'clicks and riffs ...

Further. Find a metronome or any device at hand that clicks an ongoing, steady sound. Turn it on and count along with the clicks for a spell with its beats. Ya know, for 4/4 ~ 1234 2234 or 3/4 , so counting 123 223 or 5/4 12345 22345 and so on. Then just play whatever music you love to play on along with the beats and keep going, don't stop, till the end of your song. And if you get off beat a bit, just jump right back on quick as you can, same as when we're performing. You've now officially started working with a metronome ... right on :)

The ultimate chops saver ... ? As crazy as it sounds, by playing with a metronome we can, over the long haul of a couple of decades of shedding, save wear on our fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, arms, shoulders, backs, ears, etc., ya know all those locatable spots along the way that makes the physical magic happen on our instrument. For by counting into a metronome's 'clicks', we then have musical time in motion as our motor, gives us a real physical time to lean on and into.

So in getting with a rhythm / time click motor to help in our practicing, we can at any point along the way, stop, while our thinking keeps us moving along with time. And in stopping we give our physical components a moment to 'reset' to a relaxed setting, take a breath, then continue on. In this reset pause, we relax. And over the decades of shedding for pro leaning players, it can make a difference in the wear of all the parts that make the physical happen.

So we win two ways here. We focus our practice time on the skills we'll need to perform, tightening that all up. All while consistently relaxing the physical component, reducing wear to save some chops for further on down the road. Focusing on maintaining the physical over the decades help keeps artists in their game.

The ultimate recovery. Perhaps the coolest and 'unsung' virtue of the metronome and its measured groove is that it'll strengthen our 'recovery' abilities when we get off track while performing our music. So our own awareness, when the timing of our music begins to wobble, just becomes naturally keener. So, re-synching up with bandmates while moving through time is strengthened. 'Didn't miss a beat' is the old cliche for this ability and working the clicks will strengthen our getting back on the beat, when we happen to miss one or two, and with all due respect, ya know we all do :)

Time fluctuations. While time in music naturally fluctuates a bit here and there in performance, too much flux and maybe the original spirit of the chosen song begins to sour a bit, or a notey melody becomes unplayable etc. When a super rockin' song gets to its bridge, chorus, release or hook, just the energy we collectively put into getting there might make it seem a bit brighter or faster. Very natural to charge ahead a bit to shout it out and then settle back to where we started for the next verse etc.

Thus we keep a close eye and ears on the singer / lead soloist for they are very very exposed and thus most vulnerable, as they interpret the emotional, human side of the story of the song, delivered in time with their artistic signature. Working with the clicks gives us a 'time awareness' that will help keep things in place.

words of a story in time = phrasing life :)

Something to 'lean' against. This idea is a common thread throughout this text during various discussions where we want to place our 'theory' into 'performance.' The basic idea here is that by having something to lean against, i.e., the clicks of a metronome, we're creating some sense of musical gravity, we're placing whatever we're doing in real time, moving along a musical situation or environment.

While today there's lots of ways to create this beating of measured time, a metronome has historically been the master of time measure. Lutenist and 'rule of 18' proponent Galileo Galilei is thought to have worked with a pendulum, whose concept of even, timed movement evolved into various time keeping devices.

wiki ~ metronome
wiki ~ Galileo Galilei

For example, it's one thing to practice scale shapes but how musical is it? Do we play scale shapes in performance? While we all do at times 'go to the well', we usually do not. But the running scale shapes 'in time', as provided by a metronome, changes the dynamic, to more akin to actual performance, where our creative improv forms up scale shapes into melodies as we lean into the bass line and drums for support and context.

Phrasing. Remember the old expression about ... ' it's not what we say but how we say it?' Well, same thing with our musical phrasing. So depending on the situation, the 'how we say it' part of this old time quip becomes the rhythm and timing of the phrasing of our ideas, the support for which we can get from the even clicks that a metronome creates when it's turned on.

Once we can count ourselves into the clicks, we then have a moving along, accurate time to energize our musical thought process, we then think of an idea and find it on our instrument. And placing our ideas into real time is simply what we do when we collaborate with other musicians. So again we're strengthening, like exercising in the physical sense of musical time.

Improvising artists talk of 'sing the line, play the line.' Melody players do this also, to find their own take on how the phrase will unfold. Having the background of time as support, if we can feel and recreate the swing of a phrase when we sing it, then we can find this phrasing through practice. In the shed? Yep, in the shed :)

A song's form. These moving clicks through time also are countable, into measures or bars of music, and as such can be counted into our common forms of music. So if we've a sense of the song's form, with the clicks, we can 'drop out' of the mix at any point along the way, just follow along with the form and its melody and chord progression in our thinking, take a breath, wait a moment or two ... and give our 'inner creative' a window to 'suggest' what idea or phrase comes next.

Amazingly too, that in these 'pauses', we can give our chops; our hands, a chance for a quick relax of their physical tension, which in the long, long run over the decades is part of the physical that wears out the moving parts. So these clicks become a chop saver too !

Strengthening this improvisational aspect of following along with the form of a song with just the clicks is beyond giant and has been a way of learning and strengthening of master players of all styles, all along.

So all in all, the clicks get us moving through time and space, imagining the music to be created, with opportunities to pause along the way and reflect on what's going on in our music making process. Tis the ultimate strengthener indeed for the pro leaning player, and in the refining of 'our sense of time', brings us a lifetime of exploration, evolution and understanding, in the joys in creating music, express the art in our heart.

About swing. While it can be quite a challenge to teach a person how to create a swing feeling to the rhythms they create, for that we each must find for ourselves, what is fairly straight ahead is to teach an interested learner in what swing is, how it feels and where it lives in the musical time of any Americana style of music they dig.

For in learning to physically feel what swing is, we each then get a true inner sense of it, to then create our own relationship with time and space and the magics of the musical sensations that swing creates. And to first find this magic? All we need is something that steadily goes ... tick tock or click clack or boom boom boom boom ... :)

And while swing can be in any time signature, it's probably easiest to initially feel it in 4/4, as it originates in the march time of parade bands and knowing that the trick to bring the swing is by accenting the 2 and 4 beats of each bar.

For in this ...

'one TWO three FOUR, one TWO three FOUR ...

is the 'little beat then big beat' that creates a unique gravity between two different weighted objects. In that gravity, its physical 'pull', is what we harness and shape to create the sensation we commonly call swing, and have done so now for the last 100 years or so in our Americana musics.

That there's as many ways to swing as there are folks who love to play the music is just the Americana way. There's always been new cats coming up generation by generation to show us new ways to work time's magics of the pull of the '2 and 4' accenting beats in 4/4 time.

Thanks to swing inventor Mr. Louis Armstrong, and artists who followed after, swing's a way to create near instant smiles in our music with its timing, that goes right out in our rhythms to our listeners, which again, nine times out of 10, brings a smile and some toe tappin' as folks can join in when the Americana swinging begins.

wiki ~ Louis Armstrong

So throughout this work, there's a half dozen or so ideas, reasons for and techniques, for strengthening our timing and finding our own sense and way to swing by working with the steady pulse of an accurate metronome device. These include; finding the swing and pull of 2 and 4, feeling when tempo speeds up or slows down, help in consistently finding the right tempo for a song by its numerical designation, and to give us a bare bones back beat, groove or pocket to 'lean' into, when working out our ideas, phrasing and rhythms of our imaginations. That having the motor going gives us a chance to take a step back, relax a bit, take a breath, and give our Muse a chance to suggest what to play next.

Develop our radar. As we strengthen up our own time, we often develop a heightened awareness of the musical time generated around us by other players. We'll better hear and understand how artists negotiate their time into ours, we'll know and feel rock solid when cats bring it, know and feel when players rush or drag the tempo within the music being created.

And while a lot of this can involve drummers or the timekeeper (s) in the group, we all must be aware of our own sense of time and create that inner self confidence of feel that our lines and time swing with the rest of the group, adjusting as we go. Of all the intellectual, mind to mind telepathy that happens with the making of music, the time basis is often the strongest and most exhilarating connections to create, share and experience. For when the band hits solid time together, because it is a physical thing, everyone in the room gets it :)

Quick review ~ what we gain ~ an awareness. This bare bones time environment created by any metronome is one in which we each can generate our own part in musical time, within an aurally crystal clear setting, and allowing us without distraction, to hear exclusively from within the music we are creating. For in the starkness of the clicks, there is no other instruments in the mix to mask, confuse or cover up the sounds we generate, in accordance with the time generated by the steady clicks. We each have to imagine everything in the music, in our heads, with just the bare bones clicks as they motor along, just like in a song.

Most of us initially struggle to work with this musical time as created with a metronome, I know I surely did. Once we master the basics and get used to its groove, we'll probably miss its motor and backbeat when unavailable. For it can become similar to playing music with another musician(s). For even with just the clicks we have something in time to play our ideas off of, to move along in time with, which then reflects our own negotiation of musical time back to us.

Often termed throughout to 'lean against', this is the time basis to help in getting our songs to be songs, the phrasing of our lines to groove and swing as well as finding some of the blues rub, in its most naked form. For when we play our blue notes with just the clicks and they give us a chill and make our hair stand up, we know we gots their magic. Blue notes, those essential aural ingredients in so many of the various dishes of Americana musics we cook up. Got your blue notes handy and ready for testimony ?

"One good thing about music; when it hits you, you feel no pain."

wiki ~ Bob Marley

Shedding with a metronome. The following suggestions are to help a musical artist begin their process of working their musics into the steady time pulse provided by a metronome. Anyway we do this will help, just turn the clicks on, find a good pulse setting for the song you are playing, and begin playing along with the beat.

Turn on a metronome. While some of us are lucky enough to actually have a functioning metronome, some reading here might still be searching for their perfect timekeeper. So we took the initiative here at 'UYM / EMG' and created a half dozen patches or so of clicks of various tempos, give ya something to lean against till your own perfect timekeeper comes along. The tone of these clicks comes courtesy of Finale. The numbers listed represent the number of clicks per minute, so at m.m. 60 one click per second. This is the standard way we represent and measure musical time.

In this first idea, start the clicks, let three go by and hand clap on the 4th. Do count too, 1 2 3 and use the clap for 4. Run this exercise a handful of times. Example 1.

Counting into time ~ downbeat / backbeat. Once our own snapping or clapping along with the clicks along is working fine, there's really just one more step in this initial process for the majority of our Americana styles; this is to count ourselves into the clicks thus establishing a starting point in time for the music we are working on. There's two suggestions included here.

Rock musics 'hit' on beat one. The first idea sets up the click to become the downbeat of a measure of 4/4 time. This works fine for the folks stylings. It also sets up a downbeat for other time signatures; 3/4, 5/4 etc. Start the clicks and simply count along for a couple of measures; 1 2 3 4 / 2 2 3 4 / 3 2 3 4 / 4 2 3 4 etc.

counting into time
time signatures

Bring the swing with the 2 and 4 beats. The second is for creating a backbeat. This turns the moving clicks into the 2nd and 4th beats of a measure of regular 4/4 time. In setting up the clicks to be 2 and 4, we now create a steady pulse to lean into, that depending on the tempo, we'll find in most if not all of the Americana music styles, from the blues right on through rock, country and pop and into jazz. Remember, the backbeat brings the swing. Example 3.

finding one
finding 2 and 4

This finding of 1, the downbeat, and 2 and 4, the backbeats, is the basis we need to master first. Be patient for it'll probably take multiple tries but you'll know it when it happens by the feeling you get of being 'in time' with the clicks.

Once we're cool, then really any 'clicking' device available to you will work to lean into for jamming. We can practice this counting in process really anytime we hear some music at home or when out and about. Hear some house tunes music at a store, find any groove and count yourself in. Got a radio?

That metronomes can conjure different tempos with a twist of a knob is their core magic. We each then just have to bring it to life, and with a snap of the fingers conjure our grooves right out of thin air knowing our imaginations will do the rest :)

Getting a lick up to tempo. Another cool thing we do with a metronome's time adjustment abilities, to click at various speeds, is to work phrases and such up to a desired tempo. 'Tough lick ?' Slow it down' is the mantra in this, to get it under the fingers first, then gradually increase the tempo, strengthening our focus and dexterity along the way. The clicks give us support and keep track of the tempos or speed of the lines.

This is probably mostly a jazz thing as the lines get can get very notey while the tempo blazes along. Historically, many written bebop melodies are probably the most challenging section of this library; where we've a full on 12 pitch, harmonic extravaganza that usually scoots right along. Working with a metronome in getting our lines up to tempo can be the way to conquer and internalize the chops at this performance level.

'Metronome markings.' In written music we oftentimes get an indication at the top of the score that includes what we theorists term a metronome marking. Often accompanied by a word or two describing the musical style of the piece, a metronome marking numerical is sort of musical equation that gives us a number that we use to set our metronomes on. And when we flip its switch, all things aligned, we get its clicks at the composer's suggested pace / tempo for the music. Here's the top of a Latin score with its metronome marking. Example 1.

So this marking 'Latin @ 120' gives us the style and a #. So with 2/4 as the time signature, two beats per measure and the quarter note gets the beat. So a first time read through, we're thinking the song is to be performed in a Latin styling with 120 quarter notes per minute We set the metronome to 120, start it off and away we go. This next marking is more of a Euro traditional / classical styling. Example 1a.

Adagio? Italian for 'at ease.' So a slower tempo. Surely at 40 quarter note beats per minute, we're at the lower side of what many mechanical metronomes can create. Like a ballad? Yep, pretty much. So we set our metronomes on 40 and push the button. With a good reed and a clear day and a working machine, it'll click 40 times per minute and we can find our way into the song and adjust for artistic tastes as we go.

Even clicks is a key. Often by their very nature, an old fashioned metronome strives to make each beat, each click whatever, exactly the same, every time.

The coolness here is that any click can be any beat. So how can this help us, these super even clicks ?

Simply that if we goof up in our timing, we can just get back with the next click / beat quick as we can and keep on rolling. So just like in performing a song with no stopping, the steady clicks help us back into the mix, in the spot we need to be in, as we think along how the song goes and even to think ahead a bit, all in time.

Time check. Putting on some clicks around 60, try snapping your fingers or clapping hands along with the clicks. Example 1.

A measure of 'good' time. How did you do ? Find the pulse and clap along ? Yea, that's our first challenge here, just to see where we understand the pulse to be in relation to the clicks. There's some pure magic here too. For when our snap or clap lands perfect with a click, the sound of the click can vanish. And when the 'click goes away', we know we're solid and right with the beat.

This intellectual awareness is a strengthener in itself. The awareness of how we perceive beats moving through time. It's an awakening really, and as we develop this sense, we'll better feel a groove as well as when our music speeds up a bit; to rush, or slow down; to drag. When working in ensemble settings, these become the 'time' considerations that we negotiate with our bandmates along the way.

Extra challenge. Try this exercise with slower clicks, and think ahead to the click, again trying to make the sound of the click disappear. Example 1a.

Cool ? Yea, but trickier. The slower we go the more of a challenge this seems to be.

One musical note per click and a full reverse fini :) Now begin to just play a note on each click. Try to perfect match up your musical note with the click. Depending on volumes of instrument and clicks, when our note is perfectly timed with the click, they can totally blend together and we do not hear the click, we hear the note we sounded. Here's some clicks, again at at 60 beats per minute, find a note somewhere and lay it on the clicks, give it a try :) Example 2.

'Make the clicks go away' is the trick here and it is not easy, at all. Be patient and focus and you will find the magic. For now when we sound a note perfect on the beat, our musical note fully covers up the sound of the click. So, the sound of the click 'goes away'; we can't hear it anymore. We can aim for achieving this phenomena when shedding our music with the clicks; from a metronome, with drummers, jammin' in the band and beyond to wherever our music takes us :)

Again, know that this can be tricky, it's not that easy to do this, even under these laboratory academia environs, let alone when under the lights. So again, just be easy on yourself and patient, keep trying, and you'll get it.

For once you do a time or two, even once, you'll know it, and this spark of insight and realization can shape and strengthen your own sense of what 'good time' means to you. It's an awareness that'll stay with you all through your career, a part of the magic in music shaped by moving through time :)

find the power of one note ...

Subdividing / a warm up / projecting ahead. A bit more advanced technique while working with a metronome finds us warming up our chops and consciousness to focus along with the clicks. The basics here is to set the device on its lowest setting, usually 40 beats per minute. We start by simply playing one note per click for say 10 to 15 clicks. We're just trying to relax into the clicks, the metronome's created time and making the sound of the clicks disappear by being absorbed into the sound we are generating on our instruments.

Clear the mind. Our focus here is to concentrate and lock into the musical time at a very very slow pace, settle all things way down, leaving lots of space to contend with mentally before the next click. Trying not to rush, this'll probably be a bear when first attempting it. It's probably as much as a 'realization' exercise of one's own inner state of being as it is a warm up.

So once we're locked into one note per click, we find the halfway point in between, making now two notes per click. Run with this for a spell. Once cool, we go to three, then four, then onward to Parnassus :) In this process we are subdividing the beat.

wiki ~ Parnassus

As an exercise to develop our own inner sense of time, matching up with the clicks, we strengthen our ability to relax and project ahead in time to where the next click will come along, then try to sound our note right on top of the click. We intuitively know, and that becomes a new basis for understanding musical time and the idea of what time generally is I'd imagine. That we think ahead in musical time becomes a solid spoke in our inner wheel for creating our improvs, for telling our stories and shaping our improvisational art into the forms we are working in, and creating the new forms to hold our ideas as the need comes along.

Turn the beat around. While much is given initially to finding the pocket and 2 and 4, the swing of it all and meshing with a group of players, once our time is solid on 2 and 4, advancing cats will 'turn the beat around' in the rhythms of their contribution to the group's sound.

Here we are simply creating in our rhythms a rub to the 2 and 4 pocket of the groove. We flip our 2 and 4 to become 1 and 3 against the band's 2 and 4 and rub this turned beat for all it's worth. Once we've worn it out, usually by repeating the idea for a couple of times, we slip back into the ongoing pocket of 2 and 4, turning our idea back around to the band's pocket of 2 and 4.

This simply creates a sort or 'rhythm rub' with the 2 and 4 swing of the band, creates some tension and is a good way to climax a solo. Fairly easy to do and with a metronome's clicks, triplets are a sure way to 'turn the beat around.' Once we hear it and begin to do it, we'll discover lots of ways to have some fun with the time.

turn it over

Clapping the rhythms of written music. Another way that our metronomes provides a learning environment for our music is in learning to read notation. And while much of our Americana music, through our spectrum of styles, is performed without reading it on the bandstand but improvised from memory through practicing and the rote learning of our parts, when first learning new music we can use the metronome to anchor our efforts.

Author's note. Forgive the personal testimony here but I was a late arrival to the music scene and when I finally landed, my abilities to read standard notation was, in comparison to my classmates, nothing short of appalling. And for the most part it still is :( Taught that it is the rhythm of a lick to be mastered first, then the pitches, what I can do and have done time and time again over the decades, is to use the metro clicks to first learn the rhythm of whatever written music I'm working on, by clapping its notated rhythms along with the clicks, saving the pitches to add once the rhythm is solid enough to give the line the composer's intended flow.

Starting slowly and working the rhythms up to tempo, is a winning solution for non reading artists to learn tricky lines. For there's just something about the whole aural / physical clapping symbiosis process that works like a charm to internalize new rhythms. Nowadays with the ease of hearing a song performed, this way of learning is probably too old fashioned and obsolete, yet it worked for generations before we had push button audio, so a tried and true way into the rhythms of any music really that we just have a written chart for.

wiki ~ symbiosis

That I learned this from my teachers probably helps to give this idea of clapping rhythms with a metronome some extra creds. That in learning, reading music and physically sounding musics, its rhythms are often the more difficult aspect. We can find the more static individual pitch levels of a musical line one at a time if we have to, while rhythms are the motorizing of a phrase. That this learning method has worked so well for me and so many now over the decades prompts me to want to share it with you today :) Here' a few rhythms to get started with.

slow samba bass pattern
triads love this rhythm
quarter, 1/8th note triplet, 1/8's
turn it all around, a bit :)

Counting in with the clicks :) As essential as it all might ever get, finding '2 and 4' in some moving clicks brings the swing ... right out of thin air. The trick ? Clap hands or snap fingers along with the clicks. Then just count a 'one' before a click, creating beat one of 4 / 4 time, and you're in :) Master this and take a giant step forward, in any style, genre, groove or beyond.

Formal music school. In my formal music schooling, the musicians in the music section of the arts building practiced a lot. Working with a metronome was not something everybody did. When I first experienced what 'good time' was, and made its mental / physical whole body connection, I was stunned. And when I felt the pull of swing inside me bones from just the clicks, I knew exactly what it was, thus empowered, was then able to begin to figure out how to bring it about.

Since this is something we each get to know for ourselves, yet get to share in a physical way too when making music with others, there's always more to explore in just the plain ol' clicks and our imaginations, as our own time evolves and we blend these rhythms with the band. So it can always fun and instructive to 'check back in' with the time master from time to time and try to make the clicks 'go away.' Here's my metronome that ruled the day back in the early 80's.

Review. There's a good many musical concepts and skills we can learn and strengthen with working with a metronome. For the exacting metrical 'time' they create with their clicks gives us something to 'lean' our musical ideas into usually with just the push of a button. In doing so we get to place our ideas in a series of undistracted clicks of pure time measurement, for there is no melody, chords or distractions of any kind. Just the clarity of pure clicks of a measured time, in clarity we view all.

Click by pure click our gains can include; internalizing the physical sensation of what players call swing, create a perspective of what 'good' musical time actually is and how our own sense of time physically feels in relation to the metronome's measured clicks. We might better understand thus more quickly develop our own unique ways of melodic phrasing, through the delay of our starting points against the clicks and feel the different degrees of 'pull' associated with swing. With tone and nuance, how we phrase combines to become our own artistic signature.

start points
the pull of swing
artistic signature

And depending on the circles and people you get to hang with, knowing what and producing 'good' musical time seems to always elevate the pros up towards the stars. And swing? Well, it has been said for quite a spell that "it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing :)"

That we each can use any sort of metronome device to learn these essentials is the leveler here, giving each of us an equal chance to succeed in developing good time. Don't most of the new phones have an app for this too :) Always remember that we musicians are oftentimes an improvising people by nature and just have to figure out a way. And once ya got it? Ya got it, and it is yours forevermore, to strengthen and perfect through your own artistic evolution through exploration, dedication of study and practice.

Forward ... and into 'forward motion.' This topic and discussion of forward motion reaches us to the apex of our time ~ rhythm studies within this primer.

"The more upbeats you have in the music, the more it swings."
wiki ~ Dizzy Gillespie

References. References for this page's information comes from school, books and the bandstand and made way easier by the folks along the way.

References academia Alaska. And when you need university level answers to your questions and musings, and especially if you are considering a career in music and looking to continue your formal studies, begin to e-reach out to the Alaska University Music Campus communities and begin a dialogue with some of Alaska's own and finest resident maestros !