Piano Player World

Why Use a Metronome for Piano Practice

metronome for practiceWhen students’ piano instructors first make them use a metronome while they play, the response usually entails some kind of weeping, lashing out, or other form of resistance.

Many students would joyfully confess that they would rather jump into a tub full of scissors or stand naked in a crowded room than practice with a metronome. What is it about this innocent, fragile machine that elicits such a negative response from students?

Metronomes are one of the most valued tools by piano instructors, and one of the most undervalued by students. The reason for this disparity is the instructors are not the ones subjected to the misery, discomfort, and embarrassment a metronome is known for inducing.

Students, the ones who experience these side effects, tend to overlook the long term advantages of the metronome because of the immediate suffering they undergo. They wonder why they should use a metronome for piano practice.

A metronome is like a small, adjustable clock that devoutly ticks a rigid, unfaltering beat. Metronomes can be mechanical or electronic – either way they are daunting little buggers. Imagine a math teacher tapping you rigorously on the shoulder every time you started to perform a math problem wrong.

Metronomes are used to keep a steady time so that students, as they play, can also keep a steady time. The real suffering arises when, like doing math problems, students’ timing goes wrong quite frequently, and the metronome merely makes this fact glaringly apparent.

The way students see it, the metronome is hardly a device that corresponds to piano’s virtues. Music from a piano is delicate, warm, and the creator of art. The ticking of a metronome is hard, cold, and the dictator of order.

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keeping consistent timeA mechanical contraption seems to have no place near the beauty of music, so students say. But, though students would be loath to admit it, there are two enormous advantages offered by practicing with a metronome: control and precision.

The cold, hard fact that a metronome presents students with is that students do not typically play the piano with a consistent rhythm. They also do not tend to slow down. Students tend to speed up their playing; the metronome’s relentless and steady ticking reveals within a measure or two how dramatically a student may increase their pace.

Musicians who do not consciously speed up do so because either they do not possess the amount of control required to play a passage, or because they are trying to cover over their mistakes by blurring past them. Usually both.

But by practicing with a consistently paced metronome, students will over time bring their performance under control and make the music conform to their fingers instead of the other way around.

Metronomes additionally aid students by increasing their precision in piano lessons. That’s right – a metronome will actually make performers fingers hit the keys more accurately. While the metronome helps individuals control their pace more, this controlled (and often slower) pace requires that the fingers actually hit the right notes.

If they don’t, then the mistake will become evident immediately and just plain sound bad. If you want to buy a metronome, just visit the nearest music store in your area or simply buy a simple one online at Musician's Friend.

While practicing with a metronome, it is important to let your mind stay focus on the beat and on the way your fingers mingle with that beat. So the next time you begin to question why should you use a metronome for piano practice, make sure you remember that even though ticking isn’t the most beautiful sound, but it undoubtedly helps make beautiful music.




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