Stop by any music store or music teacher’s studio and you’re sure to see metronomes. While pretty much everyone knows what metronomes are for, few people pay attention to how truly important they are to aspiring musicians (and even some seasoned professionals). New music students often scoff at the idea of using a metronome to improve their skills, but those who try it usually see some big gains. So if you’re a music student and you don’t currently use a metronome, here are some significant points that might sway you to try incorporating one into your practices.
Polish Up Your Rhythm
In the world of music, rhythm is king. If you have poor rhythm your playing won’t sound polished and clean. Additionally, if you have aspirations to play with someone else or as part of a group, you’ll have an easier time if you’ve used a metronome. You need to have good rhythm to keep your timing with other musicians. Once you’ve practiced with a metronome for a while you’ll have a better internal rhythm and will be able to more easily maintain your timing even without it.
It’s Quiets Your Overanalyzing
Sometimes when music students practice they get too caught up in critiquing their playing. Having a metronome to pull the focus away from critiquing the playing itself can be a handy addition. Instead of putting all the attention on flaws in your playing, you can hone in on rhythm and timing for a while.
It Helps You Learn Song Speed
Music students love to learn well-known pieces of music, but when you’re just practicing it can be tricky to get the song speed just right. Some will rush through a piece in their excitement to be paying it at all. Others will play far too slow because they’re so focussed on mastering the details of their playing. The truth is that a song’s tempo really affects the feel of a song. Using a metronome to set the pace can really help music students regulate their tempo during practice.
It Helps You Learn to Play Faster and Slower
Those amazingly fast or dramatically slowed down parts in your favorite songs don’t necessarily just happen naturally. There is a lot of training and practice behind them. Training with a metronome can help you gradually build your playing speed and learn to focus on slowing right down when necessary. For instance, if you’re trying to learn a piece that is much faster than you’re currently comfortable with you can set the metronome to your current pace and play until you’re comfortable. After that you can subtly increase the metronome speed over time until you build to the right pace. This way you don’t make dramatic jumps in speed that will overwhelm and possibly discourage you. Conversely, if you’re having trouble slowing a tricky piece down enough that you can polish your technique, you can allow the metronome to click more than one time per beat to give you that drawn out timing.
It Builds Your Sense of Accomplishment
Using a metronome to practice gives you a better understanding of your progress. You can easily see what you can keep up with and what you can’t, so you know which areas still need work. By the same token, using a metronome allows you to see how far you’ve come, which builds confidence. When you can see where you started and how far you’ve come it gives you incentive to keep going.
So, while many new music students either don’t understand the point of using a metronome or feel they don’t need one, there are many advantages to incorporating one into your practice. The rhythmic ticking may seem out of place at first, but it may soon become one of your most prized practice assets. Considering all the benefits of using a metronome it’s certainly worth a try. All you have to lose are some bad playing habits.