I find that practicing with a metronome is challenging at first for most students. It seems like a simple and easy task: simply play with the click. For some reason, as hard as people try, that darn metronome seems to speed up and slow down. “Why can’t it stay steady?!?”
When it gets frustrating to play with your metronome, don’t succumb to the temptation of turning it off. Practicing effectively with a metronome is a mark of a true musician and in some ways will be one of the most important skills you develop.
Here are some principles to follow for effective metronome work:
Have Specific Tempos for Everything
- Use a metronome for each part of your warmup
- Long Tones (Quarter Note = 60)
- Scales, Arpeggios, Thirds (Quarter Note = 88, 126)
- Articulation, Langenus Pg. 22 (Quarter Note = 104, 112, 120, 132, 144, etc…)
- Use an 8th-note subdivision instead of a quarter-note pulse only. This will help you develop very even fingers and prevent you from rushing in between the beats.
Go Up 4 Clicks At A Time
- Using a metronome is the key to speeding up technical passages. Don’t try to go too fast too soon. Increase the tempo by multiples of four. Each increase in tempo will not seem much faster than the one previous. Before you know it, you will be playing the passage at tempo.
Practicing Asymmetrical Meters (5/8, 7/8)
- In order to practice asymmetrical meters, you need to use a constant subdivision. Put the metronome on 8th notes, or 16th notes if necessary. Don’t give up by turning the metronome off.
I am also a believer in foot tapping. The metronome can help you internalize the pulse. Tapping your foot correctly, in time, and with a metronome will help later when it is time to perform without the constant click.
Make sure you purchase a metronome that is loud enough to hear and has options for subdivisions, like the Dr. Beat above.
Remember, Don’t Keep The Doctor Away!