HOW TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS 
WITH A METRONOME

The metronome is a good tool, to keep track of your musical progress over time. But keep in mind, that if you want to play anything to a metronome, you always should be able at first, to play the excerpt fluently. You can than use the metronome to check up, at which speed you begin to find flaws in your playing.

For example, you can use the metronome to find out how fast you can change between chords. You can do this by strumming a chord when the first klick occurs and than changing to the next chord as soon as the next klick occurs. You than simply write out the fastest tempo, in which you where able to play the chords cleanly, which you are practicing with.

Another thing where you can track your progress are riffs and solos on whom you work. You simply use the metronome as your basic beat (for the quarter notes) and write down the fastest speed, at which you where able to play them cleanly.

The disadvantage of doing this is, that you won't be working on the same solos or riffs for months or years, so you won't have a constant track record over a long period of time, of how much you improved in certain areas. I would recommend instead something different, to have a good comparison of a before and after of your playing over a longer period of time.

Instead of riffs and solos you should use exercises, which take specific techniques into consideration, which enables you to have a comparison of every single technique over a longer period of time.

You could come up with specific rhythm exercises, which are focused on different aspects, such as downstrokes only, alternating between upstrokes and downstrokes, playing with palm muting and alternating between palm muting and open playing. You can track for each one of them the fastest tempo once in a while, on which you where able to play them cleanly.

You can do the same with lead guitar and consider different techniques in isolation:

      1. Scales

Come up with simple (or complicated) scale patterns which can be applied all around the guitar neck and can be used in your everyday guitar playing.

      2. Arpeggios

To track your progress by Sweep Picking, you can come up with different Arpeggio shapes which you can apply into your guitar playing, consisting of major, minor, seventh chords etc. and are played on different amounts of strings (e.g.: 3 string Arpeggios and 5 string Arpeggios).

      3. Legato

Create exercises which are made up by legato techniques (hammer ons and tapping), which could be used and adapted in your guitar playing.

I've emphasized on purpose that you should use exercises, which you can integrate into your guitar playing. This is important, because if you use patterns which you can't apply in your playing - like chromatic scales for example - this exercises will have less value for your musical progress.

To track your progress, you may use your metronome as the basic beat for quarter notes, to determine up to which speed you can play these exercises cleanly.

You can note down your top speed in the following way: You multiply the speed of the basic beat with the amount of notes you hit per beat (per quarter note).

Let me give you an example to clarify this: If you play sixteenth notes and your basic beat is at 100 bpm (beats per minute), you are playing 400 notes per minute, because you are hitting 4 sixteenth notes per beat (100 x 4 = 400).

Another example: If you play eighth notes triplets and your basic beat is at 100 bpm (beats per minute), you are playing 300 notes per minute, because you are hitting 3 eighth notes triplets per beat (100 x 3 = 300).

I hope you are able to see now, how you can progress your technical abilities over a long period of time. Keep on progressing!

This article was written by Marco von Baumbach, guitar teacher in Wuppertal, Germany.If you are interested in the author, check out his website about Gitarrenunterricht in Wuppertal