How to Use a Metronome for Drums

How to use a metronome for drums. Metronome.

If you’ve been avoiding practicing to a metronome, I can almost guarantee you I know the reason or reasons why.

First, it could be that you don’t actually know what a metronome is. Maybe you’ve just picked up drumming and are brand new to music and don’t know what or how to practice on the drums.

Second, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with what a metronome is, but can’t for the life of you think of anything more boring than playing the single stroke roll to a click for five minutes straight.

Third, and possibly the most likely, is that playing with a metronome can be confusing or even a little intimidating.

I know intimidating isn’t the first thing most people think of when they hear the word metronome, but hear me out on this one.

How to use a metronome for drums.

Single strokes and double strokes are pretty straightforward and easy to understand when playing to a click, but how do you play something like the single stroke seven to a click?

That’s what I feel is a sticking point for some drummers, and perhaps the reason many people neglect practicing with a metronome.

Now, if you fall into any of the previously mentioned categories, keep reading to find out how to use a metronome for drums, and why it’s an important tool to help us improve as drummers.

The main goal as a drummer is to keep solid time, and repetition is the only way we can improve that skill. Luckily that’s where metronomes come in. They’re a drummer’s best friend, (apart from the double bass pedal that is!) so make sure you have one available.

How to use a metronome for drums. Metronome from Zzounds.

If you don’t have one yet, you can head over to Zzounds and take a look around. It’s one of the best investments you can make as a drummer. Just make sure you don’t spend all your money on the fanciest one you can find. Wait until you are a professional drummer and can afford it!

Depending on what you are using as a metronome, you may or may not have an option to change time signatures. I say this because my electronic drum set has a built-in metronome which allows me to change time signatures. I’m not sure if a standard stand-alone metronome would allow you that option.

If you don’t have a solid understanding of what time signatures are or how they work, then you’re in the right place because I posted a complete breakdown for anyone struggling to understand how time signatures work. You can find that here: How do Time Signatures Work? The Ultimate Beginners Guide

Metronomes are designed to do one thing, and that is click at a constant tempo. That tempo can be changed, but clicking at a constant tempo is what they were built to do.

So as drummers, let’s take advantage of the tools we have.

If you are a beginner, I recommend starting your metronome practice sessions at 60 beats per minute (BPM), and working your way up from there.

In other words, after you feel comfortable playing your exercise at 60 BPM, try bumping it up to 90.

If you are more intermediate you might want to start at a faster tempo. However, coming back and revisiting slower tempos is great for checking your skills because sometimes slower tempos are harder to play consistently.

How to use a metronome for drums. Snare drum.

So for all of you absolute beginners, I would recommend sticking to the single stroke roll, and the double stroke roll for now. Practice those two rudiments until you can solidly and comfortably keep the correct time before increasing the tempo or moving on to more advanced exercises.

After conquering the single stroke roll and the double stroke roll, I would spend some time watching YouTube and find out how those drummers play the triple stroke roll, single stroke four, single stroke five, and paradiddles. Learn how the notes are broken down and really try to internalize that information.

If it has onscreen drum notation, that’s a great way to visualize how that rudiment should be played, so if you can find a video with those, make good use of it.

And from here on out, pick out whatever rudiments you feel like learning and learn to play it to a metronome. Try switching between rudiments on the fly, while keeping yourself on time. Make it as tricky as you like!

My goal with this post is to encourage drummers of all skill levels not to neglect practicing with a metronome. As a drummer, it’s extremely important to develop that inner clock as much as you can.

What to do next?

If you are brand new to music, music production, or are interested in learning to play the drums, you can check out my article: What is a DAW? – What Does DAW stand for?

You might also want to check out this article: Acoustic Vs. Electronic Drums – Which One is Right for You?

If you are looking at buying your first drum set or any other musical instrument for that matter, take a look at Zzounds. They have a variety of acoustic drum sets and electronic drum sets for purchase.

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Andrew has been a life long lover of music. Although starting his musical journey on the guitar, (we won't talk about his skills on that particular instrument) he found his true passion was for drumming and making music to share with others. He also enjoys writing blog posts about off the wall subjects that are very much real—such as Bigfoot, UFOs, and what's up with European mayonnaise. Why is it sweet???
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