The Tool Every Piano Student Needs – a Metronome

The Tool Every Piano Student Needs – a Metronome

As a piano student, what are the most important tools in your quest for learning? 

A piano is mandatory – you can’t play the piano without a high quality piano. 

A piano bench – sitting at the keyboard properly ensures you’ll become a better player over time. 

Piano music – it’s important to learn how to read music and how to play it well. 

Those three tools are mandatory. Every piano student understands that and has these tools in place before sitting down to play for the very first time. 

But there’s another tool that is vital to improve your musical abilities. It helps you with your rhythm, and teaches you how fast or slow to play each song. 

A metronome forces you to pay attention to time. It’s a device that helps keep rhythm and timing while playing a song. It has a specific sound, typically a clicking, that allows you to feel the beat and adjust your playing to create higher quality music. 

The most common is an old-fashioned metronome that winds up and has a pendulum rod that swings back and forth. It provides both visual and audio cues to help you while you’re learning. Of course, with modern-day technology, there are a variety of apps available too, which can be good to bring along and help you practice wherever you have the opportunity. 

Why should you use it for practice?

It teaches the piano student to understand time signatures. Every piece of music is created with a time signature, the speed at which the composer intended the music to be played at. It’s difficult to play a new piece without using this as your starting point. A metronome can give you the cues you need to learn it at the appropriate levels. 

It teaches the piano student to develop consistency. It’s easy to speed up and slow down as you’re learning new music. A metronome holds the rhythm steady as you continue moving through each portion of the music. 

It teaches the piano student to develop a sense of timing. You often hear someone say that top musicians have a sense of music. What they really mean is they have a sense of timing. This comes from understanding how a song should be played, and picking up on the visual cues of how to make the song enjoyable. This comes with practice, patience, and passion. 

How long have you been a piano student? Do you have a metronome available for your practice sessions? If not, maybe now is the time. 

Understanding a Metronome

Understanding a Metronome

A metronome is either a mechanical or electronic device that produces short sound bursts at regular intervals of time. Click. Click. Click. It’s designed to help you set a beat and stick with it as you play. 

Metronomes are common instruments used in practice for helping you establish a beat. It’s been used by composers for centuries to help people better understand how the composer designed their songs to be played. 

Every song is created with a specific beats per minute – BPM – to let you know how fast or slow the music should go. BPM is also known as tempo. 

Think about the tick of a second hand on a clock. It moves at a regular beat – 1, 2, 3, 4, – and so on, always remaining at a steady pace. 

BPM is designed to work in a similar way. Some songs may match the natural rhythm of a clock – 1 beat per second. Some songs speed it up, going much faster. Some songs slow it down. 20 BPM isn’t unheard of. 

Why use a metronome? It’s designed to help you gain strength in the way you play. It establishes the way a composer created the song. And it also helps you build up your strength in the way the piece should be played. 

When you sit down to a brand new song, at the top of the page should be a tempo marking. It might be written as BPM (120 bpm) or as a tempo marketing such as “allegro.” Especially as you are learning more about music, it may be difficult to fully appreciate at what level the song should be played. A metronome gives you that sense of rhythm. It can keep the beat for you to follow as you play the song. 

If it’s a fast tempo, it may be hard to begin. Slow it down a bit. Become familiar with the notes and the way the song is played. As your comfort grows, you can increase the beat and pick up the pace until you get it to the desired bpm. 

It’s a way to keep you on track throughout your practice. 

Of course, you can stick with a traditional mechanical metronome. Or invest in an electronic metronome to sit near your practice area. 

Thanks to technology, there are also a variety of apps that can produce the same practice, and allow you to take the technology anywhere. 

What type of metronome do you use during your daily practice?  

How A Metronome Can Make You A Better Player

How A Metronome Can Make You A Better Player

Have you ever heard a song that didn’t sound quite right? You couldn’t’ quite put your finger on it, but you knew something was wrong. 

The melody was off. Or maybe it was the harmony. 

Or maybe it was the rhythm. 

When comparing the three, rhythm is by far the one thing that can change the way you play than all the others. 

Why? Sit down and play music with no thought process about rhythm. Just pluck out the notes in a random order. 

Not much of a song, is it? How A Metronome Can Make You A Better Player

Rhythm controls tempo. It sets the speed. It also creates structure. 

Rhythm is the technical part of the song. Have you ever mentally walked through a song, practicing it in your mind before you sit down to play? The best piano players in the world do this continuously in their minds. They see themselves on stage. They hear their music in their minds. And what improves it all is to keep a regular beat. 

A metronome can help you keep that beat. 

Try an experiment. Set the metronome for your desired song. Before you sit down to play it, play it in your mind first, following the beat. See yourself playing it. Hear it in your mind. Hear the rhythm. Feel how you play it. 

Now sit down at the keyboard and play it for real. Do you notice it’s easier?

Also, try using a metronome when you’re first learning a song. Listen to the “tick tick” and adjust your playing to keep up with the beat. Play through difficult passages, playing again and again until you get it right. You can even use the visualization technique with the metronome keeping the beat. 

Do you notice a difference in your playing?