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David's Tip of the Day: Band Training, Part 2 - Counting the Song In

David Barrett Admin's picture

"Man, we played that song really fast!" And they're surprised to hear me say, "That's the tempo you asked for." Here are the steps to being successful in counting in your band at the tempo you want.

1) Hum a couple of bars in your head - Pick a part of the song that really gives you a sense of the rhythm (this may not be the opening of the song).

2) Tap your foot (or bob your head... something of your body should move)

3) Count 1 (then skip one beat) 2 (then skip one beat) - this is the "pre-count" and is there to get the band ready to play

4) 1 2 3 4 - This is the count. Be VERY careful not to speed up at this point. This is almost universally where musicians speed up the count. If a speedy performance is video recorded it's very common to see/hear the person counting the song in speed up at this point

5) Lastly, know where your song starts relative to your count. If you're very new, you may not realize that you start before the full count of 4 is done. "Juke" for example start on the "and" of 3. So in this case you would count, 1 skip 2 skip 1 2 3 and then you play. You may need to have a more experienced musician in your band help you to figure this out.

That's it. I recommend everyone in your band practice this to a metronome (1 skip 2 skip 1 2 3 4).