Working with Click Tracks for Drummers
The aim of this page is to help you develop
confidence in working with click tracks, so that you can use them
to your advantage. By persevering your general time-keeping will
The term 'click track' often strikes fear in many musicians, especially drummers.
Usually through a lack of experience.
Forget excuses such as:
"It will stifle my creativity"
"It makes the music too rigid"
"The music will sound clinical"
Most of today’s top drummers have mastered
the art of working with a click track and their 'feel' remains
You will almost certainly encounter 'the click' during your drumming career. So let's take a brief look at
What is a Click
Practising with a Click
so that you can be comfortable with them and know how to use them.
What is a Click?
A click is a constant pulse, beat or rhythm
generated by a metronome, rhythm box or other source which
enables musicians to stay at a chosen speed (tempo).
A click may also be programmed to maintain a chosen tempo increase throughout a piece of music.
Clicks are especially valuable in helping musicians to develop their 'internal clock/internal metronome', thus enhancing their general time-keeping when a click is not in use.
Practising with a Click
Below are some ideas on how to use a click as part
of an effective practice routine. As always this list is NOT an
exhaustive one, and specific tutors (books, videos and tapes) on
practice technique will provide you with lots more ideas.
If you use a purpose-built practice kit, a
normal metronome or electronic click/rhythm generator is
sufficient. A 'visual click' e.g., flashing light or LCD on the
metronome, is an alternative which develops visual skills and
'staying in time with what you see'.
When practicing using drums and cymbals, the use of an electronic sound source with headphone outputs is recommended. You can then use headphones/earphones to monitor (hear) the click. Alternatively, use a visual metronome. A mechanical metronome, such as the one shown, provides a good visual reference (but beware, their timing can go rather random and 'swingy' as the spring winds down!).
WARNING: When monitoring a click using
headphones/earphones ALWAYS set the level (volume) of the click
in your headphones at the MINIMUM possible to reduce the risk of
permanent damage to your hearing.
The following exercises are a guide to practice.
BE PATIENT and PERSEVERE. It may take you days, weeks, months or even years to become really comfortable and competent at working with a click and using it to your advantage.
Try using the following approach when practicing.
a. Start the exercises with only your right hand
b. Switch to using your left hand
c. Repeat using both hands, practicing various rudiments
d. Once comfortable with your hands, start to work on your bass drum foot
e. Move on to your hi-hat foot
f. Then work on hand-foot co-ordination for rhythms and for 'breaks'.
Focus on where the strokes that you play fall relative to the click.
Playing with a Click
Relax whilst playing so that you can begin to
concentrate on where your strokes are falling relative to the
Notice whether you are speeding-up or slowing down and adjust your playing to maintain a constant speed.
It may take you 5, 10 or 15 minutes, or longer at the beginning of a practice session to 'settle down' into playing with the click. DON'T WORRY ABOUT THIS; the time WILL get less as you become more experienced.
KEEP WORKING AT IT, you WILL get there in the end.
Once you are comfortable with 100 bpm, speed the click up to 120 bpm and repeat the above exercises.
You may then like to increase the speed still further.
HOWEVER, the more difficult exercises are at SLOW tempos (below 80 bpm). Try taking the click down to 80, 70, 60, 50 and even 40 bpm if your click will go that slowly.
REMEMBER: The aim is to become a more ‘all-round’ player so that you are comfortable and accurate, and can play with a good ‘feel’ at SLOWER speeds, as well at higher speeds.
As you become more relaxed you WILL be able to
inject more feeling into your playing.
For a bit of ‘fun’ you might like to try the following:
HINT: Perseverance with click tracks WILL improve all areas of your time- keeping and playing, and make you a highly sought-after musician.
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