Okay, so you’ve got your ‘nome and you’ve both become good friends. You even named it, right? Okay, okay . . . just kidding. (Mine’s called Doc.) So, now how do you use it for maximum effect?
First off, there’s the obvious method: set the tempo and groove out for a while. This is a great method for perfecting your grooves and fills and generally making sure that you’re creating a good pocket for your band. Your goal with this method is to make the click “disappear.” If you’re in perfect time with the click, you shouldn’t hear it – it should just blend into the background. Take note of when you’re playing ahead of the click and when you’re playing behind it. Do your fills rush? Do your grooves bog down as they get more complex? Pay attention and you’ll be able to tweak your playing until you create a perfect pocket.
The second method is a bit more mechanical, but can be very rewarding. Take any exercise you’re working on (the warm ups I talked about earlier make a great example) and play it at a slow tempo for a minute or two. Then use your ‘nome to bump up the tempo by 10 or 20 bpm. Play the exercise for another minute or so. How did it feel? Still easy? Bump it up again. Keep going until you fail. Then practice the exercise one notch below your fail tempo for about 5 minutes. Repeat this process each time you practice and you’ll start to notice that your fail tempo gets higher and higher. Note: Make sure your tempo changes are sudden – don’t set your click to gradually and consistently speed up. You don’t want to practice speeding up, you want to practice setting a strong confident tempo.
You can also use programs like Ableton Live or Garage Band to create custom click tracks that you can practice with. I do this with my warm-up routine. I just start the track and it increases tempo automatically for me. You can also create drum loops to play with if you want something a little more interesting to play with. Maybe some day I’ll do an article about creating custom click tracks.