Metronomes are designed to steady your tempo as you play. Jolting music is almost painful to listen to, but music with a consistent beat flows smoothly. Metronomes can especially help after the notes and rhythms are already learned.
Makes practicing slowly easier
Metronomes can be used to subdivide the beat. On a really complicated song with lots of sixteenth notes, hearing where each note should be played can help in learning the rhythm.
Increase tempo slowly and efficiently
Once you know the rhythm and notes, increasing the tempo is simple. Not easy, but yes, simple. Play through your piece at a slow tempo until you feel comfortable, then crank up the speed a few notches each time. Make sure you are confident playing at the new tempo before you move on to the next tempo.
Students can quickly get frustrated with the perpetual ticking of the metronome. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy, especially if they don’t understand the rhythm. If this happens to you, try slowing the tempo or subdividing the beat. Also, to avoid the restrictive feeling of metronomes, use drum beats instead of a classic metronome.
Starting too early or overusing the metronome leads to a loss of natural rhythm. Music needs to breathe. When a student uses the metronome every time they play, music becomes more mathematical, and it is difficult to add in emotion. It feels like clockwork rather than music. To solve this, try only using the metronome while learning the piece. Once you know the notes and rhythms well, and you feel you have a consistent beat, turn off the metronome and listen to your internal clock.
Using the metronome to often can also lead to a reliance on it. You won’t be able to bring a metronome with you on stage for a performance. If you feel you are becoming too reliant on a metronome, step back and play a few times without it. See how your playing changes. You’ll soon realize you don’t need it as much as you thought.
There are definitely good points on either side of the argument, but my final answer is yay. Using a metronome improves your technique, tempo, and internal rhythm. If you find that you are finding problems, use some of the solutions in the cons section.
Annah grew up in Minnesota, but now lives in Rexburg. She is a visual communication major at Brigham Young University - Idaho, and also works at Love Family Piano. She grew up helping her family with her piano playing skills by editing songs her mother had written and writing duets for her clarinet-playing brother so they could play together. While serving in the Utah Salt Lake City West LDS mission, she accompanied a mission choir under the direction of Marshall McDonald, along with accompanying solos and group numbers. Annah has also served as pianist and organist in her local congregation. She loves being able to mix her love for communication and piano. Visit her personal blog and see what else she is up to.