Learn how to use a metronome to practice piano with great results!
The metronome is a very useful tool, basically necessary, for all musicians. Here you'll learn what is the use of a metronome and how to practice more effectively with it.
More than helping you keep a steady beat, learning how to use a metronome can help improve your understanding of rhythms.
When you first begin your piano lessons, it can be of help when learning about different note values:
As you begin counting rhythm it is a good idea to use “Unit Counting”. This means that you count each note value exactly for what it is worth, and not what number of beat in the measure.
For example four quarter notes, or crotchets, would be counted;
1 – 1 – 1 – 1 (instead of 1-2-3-4)
and two half notes, or semibreve:
1 – 2 1 - 2 (instead of 1-2 3-4)
Unit counting is great for beginners since you focus only on the length of each note instead of regular counting where you count the beats per measure.
So it reinforces learning of note values and helps you sight-read music by keeping your attention ahead in the music.
However, unit-counting only works when playing hands separately, or until you start using different rhythms in each hand.
At that time you need to use "regular" counting, beats per measure, where you follow the time signature and count as many beats as it says per measure.
The most obvious way how to use a metronome is to check that the speed of the piece is accurate.
At the top of the score, usually left corner of the sheet music, you might see "Allegretto mm.120" for example. Allegretto is a moderately fast tempo, and the metronome count helps you to understand how fast this may be.
The metronome can be used as a tempo stabilizer. This is great when working for example with scales.
You may think that you play them nice and even, but make sure to test your playing with the metronome, and you will find the places where you slow down or speed up.
For pieces that you have learned the notes at a slow tempo and now need to speed up, the metronome is a great tool.
upon a goal for each practice session. For example:
This gives you a clearly defined
goal to work for which is also measurable since you compare yourself with the metronome.
Since piano playing and practicing is very “qualitative” it can be difficult to know your progress for each practice session.
The metronome can function as a “measuring” stick to compare your progress with.
The most obvious “testing” is to play with the metronome when you think you have really learned a piece.
Of course, music should usually not be performed with a rhythm perfect as a metronome. You're not supposed to sound like a machine!
But “testing” with the metronome might help you find places that are not musically justified regarding tempo changes, but instead technically needs some extra practice... (Try to be unbiased)!
metronome is also a great tool for practicing piano sight reading.
By using short, easy melodies and setting the tempo very slow, you can train yourself to always look ahead in the score - the metronome's "tick" kind of pushes you to move along!
Generally, the best metronome for piano practice is the classy "Wittner" metronome.
Since it has an arm that swings, you get a better sense for the beat since you can anticipate the next beat visually.
Since I travel a lot, this is a favorite of mine, small but effective.
This one's made in wood (but you can also find it in plastic) and a very special little metronome with a nice sound.
The sound is the classical "Tock" :) , which is nice to the ear. This one is in wood, but there are also less expensive plastic ones.
A more economic alternative is an electronic metronome. It has a dial where you set the tempo of the beat.
If you can, check the sound. First of all if you like it, but the sound should be big enough to be heard over the piano.
An electronic metronome is sturdy, not easy to break and perfect if you need to carry it with you.
There are also many handy free and paid for apps for this! Metronome apps are great on the go, but may drain your battery if used a lot.
Here is a popular metronome app I also use, that's free: