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How to Use a Metronome

Everyone knows that if you are taking drum lessons, a metronome is crucial to help you develop a sense of timing and tempo. Did you know that the metronome is an invaluable tool if you are taking piano lessons, guitar lessons, or even voice lessons! When you practice with a metronome, you learn how to play a steady beat on your instrument but it can do much more. In this blog, I’m going to show you a system of practice that will guarantee you excellent results every time!

How to Use a Metronome

If you do not know your piece well, only work on small parts like a measure or two at a time. This allows you to remember note and timing corrections that you need to make each time you play your section. You can also easily memorize your song as you go. Find a speed that you can play your section perfectly right away. That might sound hard but it really isn’t if you take a very small section to practice. The trick is to go slow enough that you have time to think about every detail and you don’t make any mistakes. It is actually very easy to play perfectly when you go very slow. It just takes a little patience.

As soon as you can play your section perfectly, make a little game out of your practicing to make it fun. When you can play the measure perfectly three times in a row, allow yourself to move on by either setting the metronome 4-5 beats per minute (bpm’s) higher or allow yourself to start the next small segment. It is very important that it is 3x in a row and not just 3x with performances in between with errors. I know it can be nerve wracking after you play your segment two times perfectly and you are shooting for three. The three time rule is a crucial part of the challenge (and the fun.) Once you master your speed goal, then you can move on. Learn your next measure using the same procedure. When that is perfected, put them together and shoot for 3x in a row with both measures. Sometimes it is necessary to slow the metronome down a little when you combine sections but you’ll be able to move it up quickly again. This method does requires a little patience but if you follow it, you will be guaranteed results. The more you use this method the faster results will come and you will quickly and consistently be playing flawlessly.

Tip -Some metronomes will make the first beat in 4/4 or 3/4 time louder than the other beats. That setting is fine, but I like to set my metronome so all the beats are the same and there is no strong tick at the beginning of a measure. This is usually done by setting the tick to 0/4 on most metronomes. It helps make the sound more tolerable when you are using it for a long period of time and you don’t get lost if you make a small mistake that throws you off one beat.

If you would like personal assistance with any of the blog concepts, online and on-location lessons are available from Let’s Play Music and Make Art, LLC located in Derry and Londonderry, NH. www.letsplaymusic.com

Jay Latulippe

Jay Latulippe

Jay is the program director at Let’s Play Music and make Art, LLC. He holds a degree in Music performance from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. He has authored over a dozen books including the popular piano series, Let’s Play Jazz and More! published by Santorella Publications.

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