Do you want to take your piano practice to the next level? Below, piano teacher Julie P. shares tips on how to use a piano metronome to help improve your playing…
If you’re serious about improving your piano playing, you might want to consider using a piano metronome during your practice sessions.
Metronomes are great for developing a strong internal beat and testing yourself on how accurately you play your music.
Not sure what exactly a metronome is, or how to use it? Below is a helpful guide on how to practice piano with a metronome.
What is a Piano Metronome?
A metronome is a device that emits a sound on each beat, for a set number of beats per minute. Metronomes today are mostly electronic with a sound like a click or beep for each beat.
Each metronome has a range of tempos in which it can be set, usually from about 40 beats per minute to about 240 beats per minute.
For piano, a metronome can be used several different ways; for example, it can be used as a diagnostic tool or a guide for developing a strong internal beat.
Where Can I Buy a Piano Metronome?
You can buy a basic metronome at almost any music store, usually for around $30 or less.
There are also more advanced machines, such as Dr. Beat, that have more sophisticated options like different sound options and drum machine patterns to play with.
While these are great machines, they can cost over $100 and they’re not always necessary for most piano players.
If you’re on a budget, there are a bunch of free online piano metronomes available. For example, 8notes.com has a piano metronome that you can try.
There are also tons of smartphone metronome apps. I suggest Tempo because it has tons of features including 35 different time signatures, the ability to accent or turn off beats, and programming functions for you to customize a beat pattern for a specific piece of music.
You can even create playlists of multiple songs and share them with your friends. My favorite feature is the ability to loop a section of a piano piece, which allows you to zero in on a tricky time signature or tempo change.
3 Ways to Use a Piano Metronome During Practice
First, play a section of a piece through without the metronome. Then set the piano metronome to the tempo you were playing at and play the section again.
You’ll probably notice that in some parts of the passage you struggle to keep up with the metronome, while in other parts you tend to rush ahead.
The sections where you have trouble staying with the piano metronome are the sections you have to work on.
For example, use a metronome while playing your scales. You’ll probably find that there are sections of the scale where the rhythm is uneven. Those are the sections you need to iron out away from the metronome.
You can’t play steadily with any beat if you have technical issues in your playing. Once you feel more solid on the passage, test yourself against the metronome again.
Guide for Developing a Strong Internal Beat
Try tapping and counting in your lap the rhythm of a piece you’re learning. Do this along with the metronome and you’ll see how securely you know the rhythm of your music.
Try to make your rhythm as crisp and accurate as possible so that it fits exactly with the metronome.
Set the metronome so that it only makes sound on the first beat of every measure. Can you play in time throughout each measure so that you end up on beat 1 when the metronome does?
For passages that you can play securely, but not as fast as you’d like, you can use the metronome to help you work on speed.
Set the metronome to a tempo you can play securely and then after playing it well 3 times in a row, bump up the tempo by 3-6 beats a minute.
Continue doing this until you reach your goal tempo. Sometimes it will take a few days of working this way to fully reach your goal.
If you’re having trouble figuring out a complicated rhythm with triplets or sixteenth notes, try using the subdivision setting on the metronome.
Hearing the divisions of the beat will help you find where to put each note of the rhythm.
There are even more ways to practice piano with a metronome, but the exercises above are a great place to start.
You might find that it’s hard to play with the metronome at first, but the more you practice with it, the easier it will get.
Used the right way, the metronome can greatly help your piano playing.