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I am now able to practice popular pop songs for a a few days to a week and be able to play it in isolation with my metronome and sheet music.

However, when I try to play accompanied by a backing track it seems impossible. The backing track(second 1) doesn't start at the first beat on the metronome and for it to sound decent with a backing track, I should try to play without the metronome but then I get absolutely lost on my timing (the backing track distracts me).

What is a good method for getting used to playing with backing tracks? Is there some sort of progression I can use or how do you recommend I focus for the next few weeks to be able to add this ability?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Focus on the bass and drums to hear the beat and tempo. Listen to the backing track several times without playing and then just fingering the notes in time. Become familiar with the accompaniment and "internalize" the beat so you can feel exactly where it is. It is very common for a player starting out to have a hard time hearing and focusing on the other players and parts in an ensemble because they are thinking so much about their own playing. It does get easier over time with practice. The old adage "play less and listen more" always helps when playing along with other parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Backing track has no drums. It's just a guitar and some piano for the song I am currently working on. Any other ideas besides turning up the volume? That doesn't really seem to help thus far.
 

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I’ve never actually done it so don’t know if it’s as easy as claimed, but the Audacity software has a facility to import a backing track, eg. mp3 format and add a click track which you can use as your metronome. I imagine the hard part is calculating the beats per minute accurately and getting the start lined up correctly but it might be worth a try.
 

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You have to hear the beat in the backing track. Ditch the metronome for this.

The beat is everything ... hear one of the instruments playing the time and lock in.
 

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The fact that the backing track doesn’t start with the metronome doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong the two things are not necessarily connected, depending on the time signature one can even start before the first beat or after).

Anyway, there are alternatives like for example Ireal pro. I real pro is not faultless but it has many functions, among others the fact that you can add or subtract instruments to the backing. Also, you can find things that are written by other users on theur forum which share the track in Ireal pro format, so not only Jazz but much more. I was playing in a band which mixed several pop, funk and other stuff in the repertoire and I found a lot of these on Ireal pro forum.

Happy, for example, was one of those.

Once imported you can also modify the file and play slower or in another key or play with a different type of tempo.

Remember that you have to follow the track exactly as you would playing with a band. You have to acquire a feeling for the time. Try singing it before you start playing, if you can’t sing, whistle.

the Bass and drums are your lifeline, they tell you the tempo ( time) and where you are in the piece. You keep a mental track of the melody and that will be the form that you will be using for your solo. The Changes are easier once you learn to feel the bass bringing you from one place to another in the form.
 

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If it's a song you don't know much about, then you have to try to get to know it better (in your mind) to feel its pulse. If you know this song well, try to create a bond with the accompaniment (internally, release the pulse in your mind). Don't be afraid to treat your part (e.g. melody) more freely in terms of rhythm, but to create one coherent musical organism (rhythmic-harmonic) with accompaniment.
If it is a fixed rhythm (music generated electronically or playing by human-people to the fixed "metronome"), then try, as @tony51 advised above, add the sound of the metronome to the backing track (in the software, e.g. Audacity or any DAW). If the tempo is free, then you have practically no choice, you have to "get along" with the backing track rhythm, here you need more practice and a lot of playing with this type of accompaniment.
Play a lot, practice a lot, listen a lot - there will be good results. Feel into the music and good luck ...
 

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Backing track has no drums. It's just a guitar and some piano for the song I am currently working on. Any other ideas besides turning up the volume? That doesn't really seem to help thus far.
Then ignore the first sentence of my suggestion and do everything else. Listening to the accompaniment and just fingering your sax is the best thing you can do. It frees your brain from having to think about tone production and tonguing so that you can better focus on LISTENING which is the key element. Once you can finger the notes and stay in time then sing the pitches on a "du" or other syllable while you finger. I have used this process in my teaching for 32 years so I know it works.
 

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Maybe it is not a great backing track?

When people play together live, even if the beat is not expect, there isa kind of interplay between the musicians that keeps things together even when the tempo may be rubato.

backing tracks cannot work like that. A good backing track that is designed for the purpose has to have a well defined pulse or beat because the interaction ois only one way. The performer needs to work to the track, the track is unforgiving of a performer's timing quirks.

Also a backing track cannot just start without an intro or click count in. It doesn't matter whether the melody starts on, after or before the beat one. The intro or count in will supply all that is needed.
 

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In addition to all of the above, it would be more trouble to try and sync up your metronome with the backing track than simply listen and find the beat in the track. So forget the metronome when playing along to a recording; at best the metronome is redundant in that situation. Tap along with your foot if that helps (some on here will say to never do that, but if it works it can help a lot). You should be able to feel the pulse even if it's only a guitar and piano; those are both rhythm instruments after all.

Then again, as Pete said, it may not be a good track in which case you'd do better to find a good one. Can you paste a link to the track you're using on here, by any chance?
 

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Backing track has no drums. It's just a guitar and some piano for the song I am currently working on. Any other ideas besides turning up the volume? That doesn't really seem to help thus far.
Purchase an arrangement that has drums or a click track and bass. What is the name of the pop song in question?
 
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