Why You Should Try Practicing with Backing Tracks

Nov 2, 2022

Learning to play a musical instrument is difficult. It requires time, dedication, and a lot of practice. In order to get the most out of each practice session, it’s wise to include a variety of exercises to challenge your musical intuition. One of the best tools many new musicians overlook is to practice with a backing track. This week we’re taking a look at how practicing with backing tracks can be useful and help you become a better musician.

What are Backing Tracks?

Put simply, backing tracks are songs specifically designed for musicians to practice by playing along with. These pieces of music can be as simple as a drum-loop, or as complex as the entire song – minus the part you’re playing.

What’s more, musicians use backing tracks for a variety of reasons. Whether you’re new to music, or have enjoyed it your entire life, here are a few ways you can use backing tracks to improve your practice time.

A More Interesting Metronome

An old fashioned click track is an incredibly useful tool. But listening to that click or beep tick off the moments for hours on end can be exhausting and draining. So, instead of the tired old metronome, why not try a backing track?

The entire point of using a metronome is to learn to play in time with a drummer. Playing with a drum track, or an even more robust backing track, does the same thing, but in a more interesting and entertaining way.

Get the Feel for Rhythms & Genres

One of the more interesting benefits of playing with a backing track is that the experience helps take you beyond simply learning to play in time. In fact, playing with a variety of backing tracks can help you develop a feel for different rhythms and genres.

Using backing tracks with different rhythms and from different genres allows you to more fully develop your musical intuition, making you a better player and priming you to play with a wider group of musicians.

Time Signatures

One of the shortcomings of traditional metronomes is that they make learning to play in an odd-time signature difficult; it doesn’t really teach you how to lock-in with the nuances of an odd-time signature’s subdivisions.

On the other hand, there are tons of backing tracks that utilize an odd-time signature, or even triple time. With the help of tracks like this you can learn to handle the differences between a waltz, a shuffle, and a psychedelic 7/4 riff.

Chord Progressions

Learning to play different rhythms, genres, and time signatures are all important parts of learning to play an instrument. But to really take your playing to the next level you should start playing backing tracks with chord progressions; it’s the best way to combine your rhythmic skills with chord theory and expand your playing ability.

No matter what your favourite genre to play is, you’ll find backing tracks that focus on chord progressions. Browse tracks in jazz, funk, soul, R&B, rock & roll, pop, and plenty more.

Play Solo Over a Chord Progression

Once you’ve got your rhythms and chord progressions down pat, you’re ready for the ultimate in backing track practice: soloing over a chord progression.

It’s true that it takes a while to reach this level of practicing, but once you’re there, the hours will pass like minutes as you have a blast rocking out. What’s more, the next time you’re playing with others you’ll be able to instantly recognize a chord progression and start soloing over it.

This kind of high-level practicing is popular among even the highest performing professional musicians, and there’s no reason you can’t benefit from it too!

Closing Thoughts

If you can get good at playing your instrument with backing tracks, you’ll end up being good at playing with other musicians. It’s all about jamming, experimenting, and having fun! It’s not about straining your brain to remember music theory; in fact, thinking too much about theory while playing can actually hold you back.

In the end, practicing with backing tracks is not only more entertaining than a metronome, it’s a risk free way to improve as a musician.

If you’re looking to start, or even continue, your musical journey, The Music Studio is here to help! Check out all our programs and classes, each taught by a professional musician! It’s never too late to start making the magic of music.