Friday, October 24, 2008

Free Music Lesson #2 "Working with a Metronome"

Working with a metronome is a common problem that occurs with new music students.  This is understandable.  A new students may be doing well just to get his/her fingers to move at all, much less in time with a relentless machine.  However, there are several reasons that working with a metronome can make you a better musician.   Here's a few:

  1. If you plan on playing with other musicians the ability to keep time is IMPORTANT.   It could be the most important thing.  If you can't keep time, other musicians (who can) won't want to play with you.  Boo-hoo.  Work on your timing!
  2. The metronome will very quickly tell you how fast you can play and is a great tool for developing speed.
  3. Playing with a metronome forces you to LISTEN while you play.  This is an invaluable skill when playing with other musicians.
  4. Telling people you're practicing with a metronome makes you sound cool.

So, you're convinced.  Now what.  Well for starters:
  1. Go slow.  Play slow.  Learn to lock in with the metronome and play "One note per click."  Play each note directly on the beat.  Playing this slowly will really improve your muscle memory on a piece and the spaces (between clicks) will allow you to get things right.  Try a slow speed 60-80 bpm (beats per minute.)  
  2. Don't try to play continuously.  If its to hard to play a long series of notes just play a few but, make sure you get those few notes exactly right.  If 3-4 notes is to many just learn to play 1 or 2 EXACTLY right.  Once you get those locked in try to add a few more.  This works for scales too.  Strive for ease at all times.
  3. Work up to playing a "two notes per click" at slow speeds.  Counted as (1 and 2 and)As your ability on a piece gets better you'll be amazed at how much faster you can play it if you've mastered it at a slow speed.  Eventually, try working up to "four notes per click."  That's four notes played for every click.  Counted as ( 1 e and ah, 2 e and ah )  That's for 4/4 time.  If the timing thing is confusing don't sweat it.  Just try getting in sync with the metronome somehow and you'll be better for it.
  4. Listen to the metronome.  This is the most important thing.  Go slow!
Hope that helps.


TG said...

Interesting! I just saw an ad for a metronome and suggested it to my wife. She thought it wasn't necessary. She's a musican and I'm just learning. My teacher (guitar) was a little evasive when I asked him about using one. You seem to be in favor of it.


Bradley Carter said...

Working with a metronome is one important aspect out of many that can help improve ones musical ability. It may seem difficult in the beginning stages but with consistent use will yield improvements in timing and speed. Go Slow!