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Why a Metronome will Improve Your Playing

Published on 20/03/2011

  • Why a Metronome will Improve Your Playing

A metronome is used by musicians to keep a steady pulse or beat. Some music requires you to play at a certain speed or tempo. By measuring the beats per minute, a metronome will help you keep time steadily. Metronomes help the musician to learn their music at the proper speed, usually so that they can then combine their part with other players in the group.

Types of Metronomes

The traditional type of metronome is a mechanical metronome with a pendulum, which ticks back and forth from left to right, much the same as a clock. The speed is adjusted by moving the weight up and down on a marked spindle. Mechanical metronomes require no batteries. They are traditionally pyramid shaped. 

Digital metronomes come with batteries and an earplug and are often more portable than the traditional metronomes. Digital metronomes click an audible beat and have a pulsing light. They can also subdivide that beat.

Practice Using a Metronome

Look at the scale of numbers printed on the metronome. Start out on a low number, like 60 beats per minute and turn it on. If you are playing the piano, hit the key on each beat. Play the piece of music following the pulse of the metronome. Turn off the metrnome after you've developed a feel for the tempo, and play the piece with the pulse in your memory. Gradually practice with faster beats.

Reading music, follow the tempo marked at the top of the page, and set the metrnome accordingly. The aim is to eventually memorise the tempo for every piece of music you play without the metronome.

Selecting a Metronome

Mechanical metronomes are excellent for pianists. They are available in different finishes to match the piano. They do not require batteries.

Digital metronomes are portable and suited to musicians who require more complicated beat patterns.