You will rarely meet a musician who actively enjoys the sound of a metronome…and yet it could be one of the most useful tools you have to take the music and creativity in your church to the next level. In the next article, we’ll talk about how to work with a metronome a worship setting, but for now, here are 4 reasons that you should be using one with your team:
1. A metronome is like glue
One of the biggest reasons a band or worship team sounds amateur is because they aren’t in sync or the tempo is all over the place. When your team has a single objective standard (the metronome), it is much easier to get everyone on the same page. The kick and the bass can be much more cohesive. Keyboards can play arpeggiated sounds. Electrics can make sure their delay is not only in time, but that it stays that way for the remainder of the song. I once heard someone say that the single biggest way to improve your team is to add a metronome. In my experience, I don’t think I can argue with that.
I once heard someone say that the single biggest way to improve your team is to add a metronome. In my experience, I don’t think I can argue with that. If the musicians can get past the continual ‘doink’ of the click in their ears, you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.
2. A metronome serves the congregation
Have you ever experienced a time of musical worship where the song is painfully slow? Or how about when the song is so fast it’s difficult to even get the words out in time?
I have. Many times.
Musicians love to be able to give their own interpretation to a song, and that’s great. But we must always, always, always remember that it’s not about us. Our job is to serve our church community well. Lyrical content should always trump musical content. Playing to a metronome ensures that the words that we sing are at an optimal speed for the congregation to worship to.
3. A metronome opens up musical possibilities
When everyone is playing in time with one another, a whole new realm of musical opportunities become available; specifically with backing tracks. Yes, I know, some of you are probably seething at the thought of it, but I think we need to talk about it.
With the development of software like Ableton Live and websites like Multitracks.com, quality tracks have never been more accessible. This is a topic I want to revisit at a later date, but essentially what we refer to when we talk about tracks is this:
We’re not talking about glorified karaoke, where live instruments become redundant. Rather, we’re talking about the string parts that you can’t reproduce with a 4-piece team or the 3 extra keyboard parts that aren’t possible when all you have is a grand piano. The things that fill the sonic space around the instrumentalists you do have. I want to be clear: I believe there are right ways and wrong ways to use tracks. If you are using tracks to supplement, not replace your band, in my opinion, I think you’re doing it right. But again, we’ll talk about that at a later date. Just know that it’s a possibility that is certainly worth exploring!
4. A metronome opens up other creative avenues
As well as running backing tracks, playing to a click enables you to do a lot of exciting things. For example, you could think about playing along to a video, like this:
…but there’s more!
If you use software like ProPresenter for your lyric projection, you can trigger the lyrics automatically, so that they are always on time! You can even automate lighting, keyboard/guitar patch changes and more, which gives you a huge range of opportunities. We’ve even gone as far as running perfectly synced, crazy light shows from the congregation’s phones that were triggered by high pitched inaudible frequencies from the backing track! Yeah, it can get a bit crazy. The only limit is your imagination! And remember, ultimately it’s all about giving glory to God – so all these cool things need to have a clear purpose. By running a click, you can find exciting ways to communicate incredible truths about Jesus! For more ideas on the kinds of things that can be done, check out our weekly Inspiration feature.
What other uses for a metronome can you think of? Do you have any awesome ideas to share? Let us know!