What is a metronome?
A metronome is a device that produces an audible and distinct click at a regular time interval. You can determine how fast or slow a metronome should go according to the BPM (beats per minute) by setting it up. A wind-up mechanical metronome has a pendulum that swings back and forth and with each swing comes each ticking sound.
Johann Maelzel, a German inventor, licensed his own mechanical metronome as a tool specifically for musicians in 1815. Ever since then, musicians have been using metronomes and found it very helpful. The invention of the metronome has since evolved and instead of having a physical mechanical metronome, there are metronome apps for mobile devices and computers that work the same way and are even easier to use. Whether you prefer to use the metronome app or the mechanical metronome, it is important to use one while practicing. We’ll be looking at some of the benefits that using a metronome will help you achieve during your practice sessions and in your overall music performance.
Using a metronome improves your timing
This is the most obvious reason. A metronome is basically a tempo machine; as you get used to staying in tempo and keeping your timing with a metronome, you will also get used to maintaining tempo without a metronome and every musician knows that part of what makes you a professional the ability to stay in time especially when playing with other musicians. No matter how skilled you are, if you’re faster or slower than the tempo of a song, it makes you look like an amateur.
It helps you develop speed
For you to organically gain speed while playing your instrument, it is important to use a metronome. If you’re tasked with a song that has a fast tempo, the best way to go about it is to slow down the music or break it into parts using apps and tools meant for that purpose and then using a metronome to work your way through each slowed-down part and gradually build speed from there. Using a metronome keeps you in discipline and helps you not to ‘cheat’ your way through the harder parts of the song. For instance, without a metronome, you can unconsciously slow down the parts of the song you think are harder and then play the easier parts faster, but a metronome gives a uniform tempo for both the easy and difficult parts of the song.
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It helps you have no problems with playing slowly
Our everyday lives are fast-paced, that’s how our world ‘rolls’. It would seem unnatural for activities, including music, to be extremely slow; this is why many musicians have issues with timing especially for slow music. Using a metronome consistently would help you adjust to slow-paced rhythm and groove without feeling weird or abnormal about it especially for beginners who are trying to learn difficult chord changes or finger training exercises.
It teaches you tempo estimation
When you use a metronome often and explore different BPM of different songs, it will help you develop a brilliant estimation skill over time such that when you see a piece of music that says 110PBM, you’ll be able to play it or something really close even without using a metronome, and when the accuracy of what you played is checked with a metronome, you will score 80 – 100%, the same way you can hear a song and tell whether the song was played at 60BPM, 80BPM, 120BPM etc.; the more you use a metronome, the more accurate you’re able to estimate BPM (which is the measurement of the tempo of a song).
It keeps all band members in check
If you’re in a band, there’s every tendency that there is at least one band member who has timing issues, a metronome helps everyone to be in check especially with timing. Even if you’re not practicing with a metronome at that moment, the constant usage of it over time would help all the band members to stick with the drummer and would help the rummer in particular maintain a steady tempo.
It helps to ascertain the speed of your progress
When you’re unable to play notes correctly in a fast song and you take it gradually by slowing it down and learning it in bits, you’ll be able to determine how fast you’re growing. If you’re able to play that fast song with the notes correctly at an increased speed, it just tells you that you have improved and have become better. A metronome shows you the level of speed you can keep up with and the ones you cannot keep up with, which invariably tells you where more work needs to be done and more effort put in.
The benefits of using a metronome to practice cannot be argued, get one for yourself today.
Let me know what extra thoughts you have about the importance of using a metronome in the comments below.