Metronome was invented by Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel in 1814. Since the introduction of metronome in music practice, it is widely used by musicians to maintain a steady pulse in their playing. Composers also often used it to indicate the desired tempo of their work. However, there is a debate about the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating metronome in music practice. Some of the musicians are using metronome with enthusiasm while some of them dislike it. Why is it so? Let us look at both the good and bad sides of using a metronome.
The Use of Metronome
Metronome is a tool which produces ‘tick’ sounds at a tempo set by the user. There are many ways that you can use metronome in your practice to improve your playing.
Identify the Tempo of a Piece
Before you start learning a piece of music, it is very important to understand the mood and tempo of the piece so that you can express the music appropriately. Usually, the composer will either mark the tempo of the piece with a performance direction (eg. andante, allegro, etc.) or indicate the tempo with a number. For example:
This tempo marking indicates that there are 120 crotchet beats in a minute. To get a feel of how fast is the tempo, just set the number on your metronome and you will be able to hear it.
Learning Difficult Rhythm
For a beginner, metronome is a good tool to learn about note values and rhythm. You can set the metronome at a slow speed and use it to count the beats and clap out the rhythm. This is also important when a difficult or tricky rhythm is encountered in a piece of music.
Identify and Improve on Tricky Parts
When you are playing a piece of music with metronome, you will be able to identify the tricky parts as you can’t play the part smoothly like the rest of the piece. This is telling you that you need to work more on that particular part.
Maintain a Steady Beat
A common mistake of many musicians is that they can’t maintain a steady tempo throughout the whole piece. This problem is more obvious when the piece is very long and consists of notes with different time values. If you tend to speed up or slow down in a certain part of a piece of music, metronome is what you need to solve this problem.
Speed Up the Tempo of a Piece
Lastly, you can use a metronome to help speed up the tempo of a piece, drill, scales or arpeggio. It is not recommended to play a piece at its full speed straight away when you just beginning to learn the piece because this may affect the evenness and accuracy. Instead, you should start by practicing the piece at a slow tempo with metronome. After you can play it evenly without making mistake, try to increase the metronome speed by one click. Repeat the process and increase the tempo gradually until the desired tempo is achieved.
Watch this video for a detailed explanation of
How to Use Metronome:
The Bad Side
Some musicians think that the sound of a metronome is too even and dull. Practicing with metronome does not stress on the strong and weak beats of a rhythmic pattern. For example, you should accent on the first beat when you are playing a piece of music in three time.
Metronome is a great tool for maintaining a steady tempo and solving various problems about rhythm and timing. Getting benefit or harm from it is actually depending on how the musician uses it. Metronome is not intended to be used in the practice all the time. Instead, musician should use it wisely and selectively to improve a certain part of his music. What do you think? How often do you use metronome in your practice? Let me know in the comment box below and I’d be happy to get back to you.
Do you know there are two types of metronome available; the traditional and electronic metronome? What are the differences between these two types of metronome and how to choose the one most suitable for yourself? Read my reviews on these metronomes to find out!