Rhythm Advice Needed and Looking For App Recommendations

geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
in Technique Posts: 443

I am having trouble locking into a tempo when playing rhythm. What I mean is when the band leader counts off "1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4" sometimes I do not lock into the same tempo that the band leader counted off at the start of the tune. As you can imagine, this is not ideal.

I am looking for advice on how to practice locking into the tempo that is counted off and how to improve it.

I have the Pro Metronome app and I set it to just click on 2 & 4 for two measures then is silent for two measures, then repeat. However that does not help me lock into the count the same way at the start of a song.

Does anyone know of an app that can simulate counting into a song? Ideally it would count off "1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4" then be silent for a couple measures then continue with just clicks on 2 & 4 (and maybe have the ability to alternate between measures with clicks and silent measures after the count off).

Thanks in advance!



  • edited October 2021 Posts: 4,620

    If you can hold a steady beat in general and have a good sense of time, which I can see that you do, it may not even be you but the person counting. It makes a big difference how the tempo is counted. I myself have played with with people who count in so ambiguously that I had a really hard time finding a beat in their count in. Their voice just had no beat or tempo in it, for me at least. Try to look for a Wyinton Marsalis videos where he counts in, there's no guessing there.

    TE Tuner app is supposed to be able to do what you described. It's like James Bond Aston Martin, features galore. But for me very convoluted to figure out how to use the advanced features. Just recently I was doing similar stuff for that 9/8 section in Duj Duj and eventually got it to do what I wanted but would still fumble if I had to do it all over again.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
    Posts: 443

    Thanks for the TE Tuner app recommendation, @Buco. That is pretty close to what I am looking for. I emailed asking for a 16/4 option so that I can program 2 measures of silence and 2 measures of just clicks on 2 & 4.

  • edited October 2021 Posts: 4,620

    What I believe you can do is program sequence of bars and meters to play in succession and each segment can be programmed as to how the individual beats are sounded and counted in.

    Ok I found something from Wynton. Tell me you'd have a hard time coming in on the beat hearing this count in...

    I highly recommend these whole series as solid introduction or reintroduction into music though his words. I have this on several VHS tapes...well somewhere in some dusty box... it's excellent.

    Having a hard time embedding the time stamp, go to 14:20. Trying below for the heck of it

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • littleknickylittleknicky Sweden
    Posts: 16

    Some tips and tricks that may or may not be useful:

    • Practice counting outloud while playing. Count outloud a count-in and continue counting after the downbeat. Do this with and without a metronome.
    • Get that hand moving and foot tapping as soon as you hear the tempo. I often see people freeze when they hear a count-in and then try to jump in on the downbeat, which often leads to an exaggerated chord and a focus on hitting the "one" instead of what the actual tempo is. If your hand is already movin', you just have to engage the strings.
    • Practice hits/breaks to ensure a smooth transition between playing and not playing. Count aloud/keep the hand moving during the breaks. Practice this with and without a metronome. Try not to exaggerate the chord you break on, nor the chord you come in on.

    It may sound silly to some, and it can often feel that way when doing it, but I've found counting aloud to be a good remedy for such hiccups.

  • Posts: 4,620

    I second feeling the tempo with your body, that's a great point. I do it often especially if I'm making sure to stay in tempo. My foot is usually tapping but it's the upper body movement that really locks me in. Never tried counting outloud but other stuff I do too, play air guitar as soon as I hear a person start counting and trying not to come in too loud on the first chord. Great points.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • WillieWillie HamburgNew
    edited October 2021 Posts: 759

    @littleknicky "Get that hand moving"

    Watch what Dennis Chang's right hand is doing during the anacrusis (is that the correct term for the few notes before the first complete bar?) and the following stops in this version of the song of the month:

  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    edited October 2021 Posts: 351

    Keeping time is a matter of feeling time, and I notice in both videos that Marsalis and Dennis Chang are keeping time with their bodies--it's a kind of dancing. And I note that Dennis's right hand wants to keep time whether or not it's hitting the strings. I do the same thing during bass or drum breaks when I sit in with a jazz group. And Marsalis' conducting is a kind of dance--not just his hands.

    This is not a recommendation, but I find a metronome a distraction. My avoidance is certainly an idiosyncracy, since the advice to practice with one is nearly universal. I think I sharpened my time sense (which started out pretty good) by playing with really good leaders who would rein me in if I started to pull ahead. (I rarely drag.)

    And yes, the quality of the count-in is important--I watch the leader or drummer of the group I sit in with, and they both clearly start with an internal sense of the pulse (signalled by body language) before the actual count. When I lead (in a mere duo), I do the same thing, sometimes scratching on the strings to show the tempo. But it starts in my body. I have no idea how to teach someone else how to do it, other than to suggest moving with the music wherever you hear it.

  • WillieWillie HamburgNew
    Posts: 759

    Very interesting! Me too, I avoid practising with a metronome as far as possible, and tend to use it only for checking out a distinct tempo. "Dancing" the pulse is very important (Cab Calloway!), at least "dancing inside" and nodding your head, tapping your feet (although I'm trying to refrain from that), scratching the strings or things live that. A clear count-in is an important skill for any band leader or conductor. I had the chance to work with some who were even able to start an ensemble playing without counting in: only breathing in and showing a preparing gesture with the hands. They taught me that in classical music this is the usual way to give all of the necessary information to start with the right tempo, expression and dynamics.

  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
    Posts: 443

    Thanks for the tips and advice everyone. At yesterday's gig, I did the "keep the hand moving" thing and that worked better than tapping my foot along to the count in. I also made sure that I was looking at the band leader during the count in so that I can see him count the song in (which sometimes his does just vocally, sometimes by just hitting the strings, and sometimes both).

  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    Posts: 1,429

    @Buco It's all about the finger snap! Check this count in

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