My hate/love relationship with the Metronome

February 24, 2012

Hate or Love?     First of all, I hate my metronome; I’ve had the same “stupid” machine since I was six years old. Why am I writing on the...

Hate or Love?



First of all, I hate my metronome; I’ve had the same “stupid” machine since I was six years old.
Why am I writing on the importance of using a Metronome – boring you say??? Well, my students arghh  lol– this week has been that of rhythm work on all of their pieces and I have become a broken record by asking them, “have you used the metronome this week?” slight pause and the answer is either a hesitant no lol or worse “ummm sort of” (Not sure what sort of means haha) Of course, this might be some sort of revenge upon me from all the suffering I caused my music teachers over the years …. never did count as a child.

Lol In fact when I was five, I broke my mom’s old metronome by “dropping”  it– yet lol I don’t know what happened to it! I never did get in trouble for it. Hahaha But seriously, although I hate working with metronome – music is always works better for me when I work with it.


But here are some points why it is important to play in time:

  1. Easier to play in a group
  2. Music must happen in time, just like anything in life
  3. It becomes music.

But how???? 

One of the biggest issues that students have in staying in time, is that they are not reading correctly.  Just this evening, a student kept missing a half note but it because he did not read a half note. Once I wrote in 1-2 underneath the half, he quickly held the note long enough.  So if you keep missing something – don’t feel bad – write it in! If you don’t want to destroy your sheet music – photocopy it. By law, we are allowed to photocopy it for practicing purposes as long as you destroy it after use.

The other issue is not feeling an internal clock. Often a lot young musicians do not feel music a moving force internally but rather just random notes. I often remembered this as a child. If I sang a song, it was about the story behind the notes or if I playing the piano, it was about pressing buttons to produce sounds not a live force behind the sound.  Work on feeling rhythm as a life force…. How?? Dance is an excellent way to learn how to do this.  Take some dance classes. I remember watching a festival class for little kids where the adjudicator danced to all the kids’ songs. If they didn’t have strong down beats – he’d fall on the ground (he was also 6 feet tall) – it was so funny. The kids giggled so much but it really helped them understand how to feel it.  Take dance classes – they’re a lot of fun and it will help you a lot to understand where the beat belongs.

Urban Dance


Once you understand and feel the beat, start working with your metronome. Start slowly, if you haven’t worked with a metronome before it can be tricky to listen and play/sing to it.

Some different techniques you can use:

–          Just play/sing the downbeat to the metronome… if you see where they fit in, then you see how much or little time you have to fit the rest of the notes in.

–          Tap your foot to the rhythm

–          For pianists, work hand separately with the metronome as the music will become clearer

–          Find a recording of the piece you are working on … if you listen to it, you will be able to feel it better.

Will you grow to love your metronome? Probably not lol (I never did lol) – but you will play/sing better and stronger than ever! Oh and when your teacher asks, “did you use your metronome this week?” and you answer yes – s/he knows lol lol

Aren’t we evil? “Excellent” as Mr Burns would say


PS – your keyboard’s metronome doesn’t work too well …. Here’s a free on you can download on your computer (and there’s an iphone app you can buy as well)



PSS We recorded our 1st noon hour youtube recital for Monday — be sure to add my youtube account nataviv

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