i just started using a metronome about two weeks ago, and all i have been doing is playing a few riffs, starting slow, and then speeding up. im a bit hazy on how you can practice with a metronome, so can anyone help me out?
Try playing scales with weird timing using the metronome. It helps you play notes evenly. For example, try playing a scale in eighth notes, then try eight note triplets. Then speed it up or try 16th notes.
first headbang stack.

It sounds like you know how to follow the metronome and stay in time. So with that part aside, lets say you're trying to learn a difficult riff...

Set your metronome to a very slow speed and play the riff until you have got it down perfectly. After you've got it down turn your metronome up a few clicks and repeat until you can play it as fast or faster than it needs to be played.

I tend to keep speeding a riff up past normal speed simply because if you can play it blistering fast then you should be able to play it slower as well.

Also, if you're trying to increase speed you can simply run your scales with the metronome and once again, keep increasing speed.

Practicing with a metronome has 2 benefits for me.

1. You can hear exactly where you're screwing up in a song if you're only playing with a metronome, as opposed to if you're playing along with the song your mistakes may be covered up.

2. Your timing will be steady and you wont be slowing down and speeding up every time you hit a difficult part, it forces you to stay in time. This is why it's super important to start out very slow when practicing a piece, you have to be able to play in time with the rest of the song and with the riff itself.
Last edited by iduno871 at May 31, 2010,
Start slowly and increase the speed of the metronome only when you have the piece down smoothly and accurately. Also, try playing two notes for every click, then three notes for every click, then four notes.

Make sure you don't outrun the metronome. It's as much about keeping time as it is about building speed.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
From an article by Dave Douglas...

The Metronome: No matter what materials you are working on it’s important to have a thorough rhythmic awareness. One of the biggest issues I hear in group improvisation is when musicians, both individually and collectively, are not feeling time accurately and/or collaboratively. To work on this, play your melodies (or rhythms or timbres or tunes) with the metronome, but create some challenges by periodically shifting your relationship to the pulse. That is, without changing the metronome setting, play your material faster or slower in relationship to its steady beat.

Start with the metronome around 92 beats per minute. Begin by hearing the metronome’s pulse as a quarter note. Get comfortable with that. Then play your material twice as slow by hearing the metronome clicks as eighth notes. Play it twice as fast by considering the metronome pulse as a half note. Those are three of the most basic relationships.

To practice bebop or tune playing, the most common use of the metronome is to hear it on beats two and four in a bar of 4/4. Again, get comfortable with that relationship using whatever materials you have at hand. This is not about a right way or wrong way to hear. Rather, this exercise is about learning to play rhythm accurately no matter what contradictory or challenging information is put forth as an objective reference.

Once you are comfortable playing written or improvised material alone (or with others) with the metronome in the above relationships, you can add several further layers. Hear the metronome as a dotted quarter note. In 4/4 time, this will create a three bar phrase (in other words, there will be three bars between metronome clicks that fall on the first beat of the bar). However, continue to play the material you are practicing in its own phrases, if necessary against the three bar phrase of dotted quarter notes – the pulse being represented by the metronome. You can also practice material in ¾ time this way, with the bars being subdivided evenly by the dotted quarter notes.

Now hear the metronome as a dotted half note. This again creates a three bar phrase, with the metronome falling on one and four in the first bar, three in the second bar, and two in the third bar. Some of these relationships are tricky. Take your time to make sure you are able to hear this. Slow it down and write it down if necessary. The whole point of this is hearing and playing accurately. There’s no way to do that any faster or slower than you can hear. So be honest with yourself. Make sure you’re doing it for real. Life moves at unpredictable speeds, both unimaginably fast and slow, but also imperceptibly smooth, eternally calm and steady. Bring that into your practice by learning to accept it and work with it.

“Ninety percent of this game is half mental.” - Yogi Berra

These exercises are just the beginning. Try hearing the metronome on the eighth note after two and four. Or the eighth note before two and four. Or the triplet before or after two and four. Try hearing the metronome as a quintuplet in a 4/4 bar. Then try taking any of these relationships and, rather than practicing your material against the metronome, try going with the new phrasing proposed by the relationships. In other words, play your material with the accents of a three bar phrase, all the while holding the actual four bar phrase in your head so you don’t lose the “correct” placement of the notes. If you can hear it you can feel it and if you’re feeling it nothing can throw you.

Remember that the metronome doesn’t lie. There will be moments when you are convinced the metronome is broken. Don’t fall for it.

A frequently asked question is how to practice meters like 5/4 or 7/8 or 9/8 with a metronome. You can use these relationships to get at that, too. Subdivide the bar in half, for example. In 5/4 that would put the metronome on one and the second eighth note of three. Try it. Or hear the metronome as a whole note (every four beats) so that it represents: one and five in the first bar, four in the second, three in the third, and two in the fourth. Use this for any meter.

These exercises are about developing a solid time feel. Part of my motivation stems from the philosophy that each musician in an ensemble should be equally responsible for the time. Part of it comes from a desire for freedom -- freedom from being locked into playing something the same way every time, freedom to search for unique and varied means of expression.

either put the click on 1 and 3 or 2 and 4. makes playing to a metronome feel a lot more natural.
If Jeff Berlin is here, he would say you don't have to use a metronome, and I kind of agree. If you're not familiar with the song, you're not gonna be able to keep in beat w/out making mistakes. When you know the song well enough, you would have established an internal metronome, and know where the beats fall.

On the other hand, I still use a metronome, and clap my hands to songs that confuses me. Songs with odd beats, and lots of rests.