Practicing with a Metronome: How and Why

Practicing with a Metronome: How and WhyA metronome is a tool that you can use as a musician to help you keep time. Though traditional metronomes were somewhat bulky and rudimentary, today there are a variety of small and convenient electronic metronomes that you can purchase.

Most wood-shedding musicians practice alone. They don’t necessarily have the opportunity to get together with a band and/or a skilled drummer to work through their practice routine.

However, musicians still have to develop their sense of timing and rhythm. This is where metronomes come in. Metronomes produce a consistent metrical tick that can be set at a particular tempo, in beats per minute measurements.

Metronomes can be used to:

Develop Your Timing and Rhythm

The three key elements of music are melody, harmony, and rhythm. The rhythm of a particular piece is generally determined by the time signature, the tempo, and genre or style of music.

A metronome can be adjusted to different tempos and sometimes time signatures, but it is the player’s job to figure out a stylistic approach. Musicians are responsible for finding the groove and playing it in time, and a metronome can be used to work on one’s rhythmic timing.

Develop Your Technique and Accuracy

If a musician wants to perfect a specific technique, they have to start by practicing it slowly. They also have to repeat phrases over and over to build up muscle memory.

Setting a metronome at a slow tempo and gradually increasing it as you feel more comfortable with the material is a surefire way to gain confidence with a new technique or phrase.

Develop Your Comfort Level with Different Tempos

After a while, most musicians develop a “set point” for the tempo they are most comfortable at. However, it’s unreasonable for you to expect that every song you play will always be at the same tempo.

This is especially true for musicians that want to get involved in a band, at their church, or have the desire to become a session player. Performing musicians will have to get comfortable with a variety of tempos.

Even solo musicians that want to create a more engaging concert experience will need to learn the value of playing songs with varying tempos, styles, rhythmic patterns, and so on.

The Benefits of Practicing with a Metronome

The single greatest benefit of practicing with a metronome is that you will become a better musician. If we were to break it down a little further, a practiced musician will be a better:

  • Studio musician, and
  • Live musician

Most recordings make use of a ‘click track’, which plays the same role as a metronome. If you can’t play your parts in time in a studio setting, you may not get asked back for additional work.

A click track is not always used in a live situation (it is sometimes), but that doesn’t mean that you can be sloppy onstage either, especially if you have been hired on as a session player. You still need to be able to keep time and know where you are in any given piece of music.

Conclusion

So, if you want to start practicing with a metronome, you may want to check out the following deals: