Thursday, August 14, 2008

Music Lesson: Importance of Using a Metronome

What is a metronome?
A metronome is a musical device that keeps a steady pulse.

Who should use a metronome?
Everyone! Even professional musicians use metronomes.

When do I use a metronome?
A metronome should almost always be used when practicing.

What type of metronome should I use?

There are 3 types of metronomes:
1. Digital
2. Analog
3. Mechanical

One of my favorite metronomes is called Boss. These can get pricey but are great for musicians who are playing a lot of complex rhythms. For beginning music students I would recommend an analog metronome because it is easy to use and easy to pack around. You can read more about the differences between the 3 types of metronomes here.

Where can I get a metronome?
You can get a metronome from a local music store or on-line. You can find good prices at

Why should I use a metronome?
I cannot over emphasis the importance of using a metronome! If someone does not practice with a metronome, he or she will not play with a steady beat.

Using a metronome is a MUST because a metronome helps you to do the following:
1. Play with a steady beat
2. Feel the tempo of the piece
3. Play at your tempo goal (e.g. if a piece has a “difficult to play” tempo, starting slowly and gradually speeding up with a metronome will help you to play at your tempo goal.)

How do I use a metronome?
There are a many ways to practice with a metronome when trying to learn a new piece. Here are some ways I have my students practice with a metronome:

1. Set your metronome to the speed of the piece, and play the whole piece with the metronome on. Can you play the whole piece without making any mistakes? If not, slow down the metronome to a speed you can play at without making any mistakes. Once you can play the piece with out making any mistakes at the slower speed, then speed up the metronome a few clicks. Gradually speed up a few clicks (only if you can play at each speed with out any mistakes,) until you reach your goal speed.

2. Practice playing through your piece a few measures at a time with the metronome on. For example, let’s say your piece is 8 measures long. You can repeat measures 1-2 until you make no mistakes. Then, go on to measures 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8 repeating, these measures with out any mistakes. Now play measures 1-4, and then play measures 5-8. Once you can play these sections without any mistakes, play the whole 8 measures until you make no mistakes.

3. There is a GREAT website that contains information about metronome use: . This site has a free, on-line metronome and has articles on how to use a metronome, on tempo markings, on how to practice music, and on timing.


Leah said...

my husband has one to help him practice on the drums...

Mandy said...

I remember when Samuel was active in his piano playing and he would be so upset when I pulled out the metronome! {{giggle}}

Carrie said...

When I was in band in high school I remember my director using this with the smaller groups during practice. Great blog, very informative.

Marie N. said...

The last photo looks like the good old wind up metronome we have on our piano. It is precious because it was my mom's.

Susan said...

After seeing your picture and comment while reading another blog, I just had to check yours out. I am a music lover, piano player, singer, and instantly feel a connection to those who are also. I play piano and keyboard at church, and for my praise band. The Yamaha keyboard I play on is wonderful. I love to be able to transpose songs, record, use the accompaniment.
Please check my blog out! Thanks.

angie said...

Thanks for the tutorial. When I had to take piano for a few months I had more fun playing with the metronome than the piano. ha ha.

mormonhermitmom said...

Wow, those pictures brought back memories of piano lessons (mechanical) and middle school band (analog).

Motherhood for Dummies said...

I love those old lookin' wood ones, liek the last picture you had posted :)

Erica said...

I am totally old-school and have the wind-up wooden metronome that I used when I took lessons back in the day. It works great! Thanks for all the good info :o)

Mark Salinas said...

Fun stuff! I like your site!

JGWmom said...

Thanks for visiting my blog(My3Sons)and commenting about the beach. Afterwards I was curious about yours and wanted to visit because we(our family) love music. I am so glad to have "met" you and will definitely be back. I love your information and all your ideas - especially the crafts! Thanks for sharing!

MamaGeek said...

Oh man, I haven't seen one of those since HIGH SCHOOL (you can now guess how muscially talented I AM NOT). :)

Gina said...

A metronome reminds me of my piano teacher Mrs. Pinnex. I don't think I've seen one since. Thanks for the lesson!

xoBeau said...

Hmmm, would one of these help with playing the trombone? My son, Captain Awesome might be able to use one of these.

Metroknow said...

I have the one in the last photo - I love it! It really has helped me to improve as well. We are looking to get our 4-year-old into piano lessons soon, so I think it will be getting more use... :)

Melinda said...

A faster way to the start the whole piece slow and then go up one click at a time is to use Patricia George's concept of "chunking" based on the fact that we cannot take in more than one circular inch with our eyesight at any given time. It's also based on the fact that with string instruments, you cannot practice certain techniques slow, like "spiccato" or "richechet" bowing, you have to be going a certain speed for it to actually happen. So what you do is you practice a small chunk of music up tempo several times with different rhythms, articulations, etc, and then adding onto it before and after. I've used to do the slow to fast metronome tempo and Patricia's method has cut the learning time at least in half. I practice with a metronome frequently. There is also a free metronome online:

I refer my band students there so they don't have to buy a metronome right off the bat. I also hook it up from my computer to my speaker system, which the kids hate, but reluctantly agree that it helps.

Petronome said...

Kids I teach are loving to practice with Petronome, which is a free iOS metronome app in where you can select and play along with different animals to keep your beat in time. ->