So your team is playing to a click track and everything is going great until you get to a slow song. Suddenly the band and the metronome are in two different places. How do we avoid this? Here are 4 tips for keeping your team locked in to that click.
The most important thing is to make sure your drummer can hear the click clearly. When the band starts getting louder and your drummer cannot hear the click over the cymbals, the tendency is to speed up. In order to hear the click, make sure your drummer is using quality headphones or in-ear monitors. I like to use Beyer dynamic DT 770’s when playing drums. Other drummers prefer professional in-ear monitors such as Shure, Westone, or 1964 ears. Either way, make sure your drummer is using something that is pro-quality and not consumer headphones or earbuds. The earbuds that come with a phone cannot handle the volume needed to hear the click. Also make
sure you’re sending a strong enough signal to your musicians. You might need to get a headphone amp such as the Presonus HP4 or HP60 to get the click loud enough.
When playing slow songs it is hard to stay with the metronome because the length of time between each click leaves too much room for error. You want to make sure you are using a metronome that allows you to subdivide the beat. My favorite metronome is called Tempo by Frozen Ape. It’s an app I use on my iPad that allows you to hear the subdivisions of the beat. For instance, if we’re playing Revelation Song at 62 bpm, I would set the metronome to 8th notes so we we’d hear a click on the beat as well as the “and” of every beat. If a song is slower than 60 bpm, I would set the metronome to click 16th notes. Just make sure there is minimal space between clicks. If it’s a faster song you would be fine setting it to quarter notes.
A good metronome will also allow you to set accents. I recommend setting up an accent every four clicks. In order to change where the accent is located you might have to change the meter. Going back to Revelation Song, I would set my click to 62 bpm, select 8th notes as my subdivision, and then change my meter to 2/4. Changing it to 2/4 gives me an accent every 4 clicks. If I was playing something slower than that I might set my subdivision to 16th notes and change the meter to 1/4. If you set up your subdivision and accents correctly, the click should feel relaxed. If you have accents too
close together your team will feel like they are being pushed.
Lastly you want to make sure you can change the tone of your click. A good metronome will have options such as Digital, Analog, Hand Clap, Blip, Cowbell, etc… Make sure you choose a sound that can cut through the mix. I usually use the Analog sound on the Tempo app. Some of the tones such as Digital or Blip aren’t able to be distinguished when added to your headphone mix. Try out the different tones and find one that is easy to hear.
Ultimately every team is different so try to find what works best for them. Locking to a click can really tighten up your sound but it can take months before your team is successfully playing with a metronome. If you do find your team veering from the click during worship, turn it off immediately. Don’t try to fight it. It’s not worth distracting people in your congregation from worshipping. I often turn the click off towards the end of a slow set so the worship leader can let the Holy Spirit guide us. The click is a great tool that should help your team, not hinder them.