Today I challenge you to a 3-level metronome exercise to assess and improve your internal sense of rhythm on ukulele.
If you’re able to complete all three levels of this exercise, then, it’s safe to say you have a strong internal sense of time!
But even if you can’t, you can take this exercise and begin to improve your internal tempo clock. By practicing this exercise, you become better at strumming your ukulele with steadiness and feel.
Let’s take a look!
For this exercise, you can use any strumming pattern you’d like, but if you’re just getting started with it, use a simple, beginner-friendly down-strum pattern.
This might be an easy pattern but your internal sense of timing will be challenged in this exercise!
Metronome Exercise: Level 1
For Level 1, you start off strumming your pattern to 140 BPM (beats per minute).
In the case of the down-strum pattern, this means each down strum is aligned with the “click” of the metronome.
Level 1 is basic metronome practice where you play along to the metronome but this is where this challenge begins.
For each level, you want to follow a four-step process to get the most out of this exercise:
- Listen: Take 10-20 seconds to just listen to the metronome, sensing and hearing the imposition of the external force of timing from the “click” of the metronome.
- Verbalize: Begin to count out loud with the metronome ensuring you’re staying on the beat and adjusting your count when necessary (if you get off the beat).
- Externalize: While counting out loud, start to externalize the beat by clapping your hands or tapping your foot to the beat.
- Play: Only after doing all of the above, play the strumming pattern with the metronome.
You’ll see why in the next level this four-step process is so important.
Metronome Exercise: Level 2
This is where it starts to get a little bit more interesting!
For Level 2, we’re going to keep the same timing and strumming, but we’re going to remove beats two and four from the “click” of the metronome.
To do this, set your metronome time in half from 140 BPM to 70 BPM.
While the metronome plays, you’re going to count out loud 1, 2, 3, 4 at the same tempo you did in Level 1 but the “clicks” from beats 2 and 4 will be missing!
Be sure to watch the video to hear and see exactly how this sounds.
Removing beats from the metronome is a fantastic exercise for building up your internal sense of time because you have to trust yourself as you set a steady strumming rhythm. The four-step process above is important to work through because it helps you internalize the beat before even picking up and playing your ukulele. You definitely want to continue to follow that process through each level of this exercise.
Metronome Exercise: Level 3
If you’re able to play through Levels 1 & 2, then, you’re doing a really good job!
And for those of you who really like a challenge, you’re going to love Level 3 of this exercise.
For Level 3, we’re going to take it a step even further and remove every beat from the metronome except the first beat – the downbeat.
To do this, set your metronome time in half again from 70 BPM to 35 BPM.
As you listen to the metronome, you’ll quickly notice there is a lot of space between clicks.
This means while the metronome plays you’re going to count out loud at the same tempo you did in Level 1 while ensuring beat 1 of the count lines up with the downbeat of the metronome!
This is quite a challenge if you’ve never done this before, so be sure to watch the video to see and hear exactly how I break this down. You even see me in the video have to adjust my count to find that “pocket” or groove. It is possible to do this, but it’s something that you’ll have to work at practicing!
A metronome isn’t a magic device that teaches you rhythm but it is a handy tool to help you tighten your rhythm.
As you progress through the levels of this exercise, you are forced to trust your own internal sense of timing.
Most of us aren’t gifted naturally with an internal sense of timing, so this is a progressive way to build your internal tempo clock. Remember you can pick any strumming pattern for this exercise but keeping it simple is just fine, since the purpose of this exercise is building your internal sense of timing, not your strumming skills.
How far did you get in this exercise?
Post a comment below and let me know!