How to Use a Metronome: Your Guide

You got the piccolo part in your school or community orchestra, and you practice it hard. But at the first rehearsal, you realize the piece goes way faster than you practiced, so you decide to learn how to use a metronome.

How to Use a Metronome: Your Guide | Piccolo Perfection

That way, you can be better prepared for the next rehearsal. Here’s what you need to know about practicing with a metronome.

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What Is a Metronome?

A metronome is a physical or virtual tool that musicians use to keep track of the tempo. The best metronome will keep the beat so that you can follow it and avoid speeding up or slowing down.

You can buy a physical metronome, such as the Korg TM60BK, which also features a tuner. Another option is to use a metronome app on your phone or tablet.

Finally, plenty of websites have virtual metronomes that you can use when you have internet access. That way, you can use whichever type of beat-keeper works for you.

How Use a Metronome

Even if you know how to use a metronome, you may wonder why it’s important. Here are some of the best reasons to break out the metronome during your practice and how to use yours for those things.

Keep Time

The main job of a metronome is to keep you from playing too fast or too slow. It also helps you keep from changing the tempo accidentally while you play.

That way, you can make sure you know how to play your part when you put it together with others. The device can also help keep you from slowing down when you reach a more complex section of the music.

On the other hand, it can prevent you from playing too quickly through easier sections.

Even if you’re good at keeping time, you can use a metronome to find the right tempo. So you won’t have to worry about starting too fast or too slow when playing a piece.

Subdivide the Music

If you’re playing a piccolo part with a lot of complicated rhythms, you may want to use a metronome for subdivisions. A lot of metronomes have this as a built-in feature.

If your metronome doesn’t, you can double the tempo to get the speed of the eighth note. Then, you can get help counting the beats and subdivisions within those beats.

After you get comfortable, remove the subdivisions and play with just the regular beats of the tool. Eventually, you’ll be able to play without using one at all.

Practice Slowly

As much as I hate to admit it, slow practice is a great thing to do, especially for more technical pieces. To keep from playing too fast too soon, put your metronome on a slower tempo than what’s written.

Play through the difficult parts of your music until you get comfortable at a slower speed. Then, you can move up a few clicks on the device and play at that tempo until it becomes easy.

After a few days or weeks, you should be able to play the piece at the written tempo. And the slow practice will have helped you internalize the rhythms, so you can play more accurately at faster speeds.

Final Thoughts

Every musician should learn how to use a metronome. This tool is a valuable asset when you’re practicing alone or running a group rehearsal.

Be sure to try a physical device, an app, and a virtual metronome. That way, you have options based on what’s available to you in each practice setting.

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