During my 8+ years of piano lessons, I found some moments to be enjoyable and others not-so-much. Especially when my piano teacher would pull out that darn metronome.
I thought musicians were supposed to be creative, go-with-the-flow type of people...and was convinced that this nagging click could in no way make me a better musician. I carried this same belief with me as I started to lead worship.
There was no way I was going to let a metronome find its way into rehearsal.
We were going to be real musicians, the kind that jam and simply feel the music.
A few years later, I was studying a large church that I looked up to so I could learn and become a better worship leader. Lo and behold, they used a click track - not just during rehearsal, but during worship as well! I couldn't believe it.
I decided to give the click a shot. Although I was excited to try something new, the band wasn't in agreement. No one on the team had ever played with a metronome so it was quite the struggle.
But, we kept at it and mastered it a few months down the line. Just like with anything else, diligent practice will always yield new and improved skills.
Diligent practice will always yield new and improved skills. Tweet Quote
From this point forward, we always used a click track during rehearsal, but we did not start using it during worship for several years - mainly because we did not have in-ear monitors. Starting with the drummer, we began to transition to in-ears. Now, all instrumentalists have in-ears and we use the click during rehearsal and worship.
3 Ways a Metronome Enhances Worship
- It puts the drummer at ease. If you have ever played drums, you understand the pressure of being the one who keeps everyone in time. The click track relieves this pressure by providing a stable foundation for the drummer to follow. Plus, they no longer have to guess as to whether or not they start the song at the right tempo.
- Builds within songs deliver maximum impact. We have all heard (and maybe been a part of) a band rushing through an eighth note build. It looses its impact as musicians struggle to stay together and do not hit that final note at the same time. It is natural for us to want to speed up as a song is building, but the click track will help us stay on point. Remember, a consistent and accurate build creates a powerful experience.
- The band experiences a new level of unity. Have you ever experienced a situation where two musicians were fighting for the tempo? Or, maybe the lead vocal was trying to speed the song up instead of following the drummer. The click track takes away this fight as there is no longer a question as to who is playing at the right tempo.
How to Keep the Click from Hindering Worship
Although the click is a must for musicians who really want to master their skill, it is important not to become dogmatic. You should definitely use it most of the time, but also know when it is time to turn it off.
If you are in worship and the band is fighting the click, turn it off. If you are in an amazing, unplanned worship moment, it is okay to turn it off and let things ebb and flow.
5 Tips to Help You Get Started with a Click Track
- Start simple. There is no reason to jump into learning to play with a click while adding other things (such as loops or multi tracks) all at the same time. Simply use an app on your iPhone (I use Tempo - Metronome with Setlists) and start with the click only.
- Use only in rehearsal (at first). It is going to take time for the band to get comfortable with the click. So, the last thing you want to do is plan a train wreck by using the click during service before the band is ready.
- Prepare for outbursts of wrath. There are going to be band members that HATE the click (maybe even your drummer). Metronomes have a way of showing a musician their flaws, which is not a pleasant experience. For those getting discouraged, simply remind them that after a bit of practice, they will get it. Also, encourage them to use a metronome when practicing at home.
- Find the right sound. Most metronome apps have different sound choices. Filter through them to find which one the band likes best. There are some sounds that get lost in the mix, and others that hurt your ears. But, you will find one or two that work really well in your situation.
- Subdivide when necessary. When you are new to the click, it can be hard to play along with just the quarter notes, especially in a slower song. Most metronome apps (including Tempo) allow you to subdivide into eighth or even sixteenth notes. When the band is having a hard time with quarter notes, give this a shot. Eventually, you will be able to knock it back down to quarter notes.
If you haven't been using a click, now is a good time to get started! As always, if you have any questions or want to share your experience with a click track, feel free to use the comments below.