Why should I practice without using a metronome?! I can see the melting faces (not feces… yet). The sad truth is, many, many musicians are forced into the nasty world of metronome practice around the world; drummers, violinists, pianists, guitarists and bassists… all kinds of different ones. And they usually get into this questionable method early on, so it gets ingrained in their brain like bad political mottos, or the music of the Beatles (let’s not go there now). So anyway, all you metronome heads, here’s the real reason why you should give up on practicing with this ancient machine.
Setup for failure
Yep. It’s good to be disciplined, but there are times when you have to be able to draw the line. Did you learn to walk on a treadmill? You surely didn’t. So why do you expect yourself to complete complex motor task without the freedom of relaxed, forgiving practice? Metronome eliminates exactly that. When it’s on, you are forced to play in time right away. What you should do instead is to figure out every single little movement one by one. Discover all the possibilities tailored to your own body and mind, without worrying about keeping time.
Slowing it down is not enough
Many people get smart to at least a certain extent, because they do slow the metronome down. It’s a common knowledge now to practice slow to be able to fly fast during performance. The problem is, you are still using that damned metronome. If it’s set to a very slow tempo, you might be able to get a couple of muscle movements right. It’s entirely possible that for the easier ones the chosen tempo will be way too slow. It’s often hard to follow where you are with such slow tempos, which is one of the problems. The other one is of course, that you won’t be able to execute the task right on the beat. It’ll result in a constant feeling of failure, which can render learning and playing music to be a real chore. And don’t forget, it’s supposed to be fun. Always.
The right way – it’s rubber time, bitches
So what is this rubber time I keep mentioning? It’s just what it is: the natural flow of your own learning process. So during practice, you’re going to naturally slow down or speed up, depending on the required skill level of the material. With allowing yourself to do it this way, you’ll fly through the easier parts at a reasonably fast tempo. The tricky thing is to allow yourself to slow down, and I mean sometimes really slow way down at the difficult parts. If you still remember, the secret of a good practice on any instrument is when you execute the movements correctly, without mistakes. With the rubber time method, it’s possible to do this, in any circumstances. Metronome believers assume that with forcing yourself to practice in time, you’ll learn to keep time. In reality, keeping time is a natural ability you already possess. Well, most of you do.