If you want to learn how to play the piano, the first thing you start with is learning the notes and their arrangement on the keyboard. The next step is usually learning how to read piano tabs, and how to read sheet music in treble and bass clef.
But this is not all that is needed for good playing on the piano. You need to master more specific skills – the right posture, musical technique, and the right rhythm.
Learning how to properly keep the musical tempo, and play notes of the correct duration and in a clear rhythm is a very difficult skill and it is important to pay enough attention to it from the very first lessons.
If you feel like you’re having trouble with rhythm and tempo, or you’re just not sure about your playing, don’t worry! A metronome can help you learn this important skill.
And in this post, we’re going to talk about how to use a metronome for piano practice.
- 1 What is a Metronome?
- 2 How To Use a Metronome for Piano Practice? 6 Different Ways
- 3 FAQs
- 4 Final Words
What is a Metronome?
A metronome is a small mechanical or electronic device that makes a click at a regular interval set by the user. This is called “beats per minute” or BPM. What number do you put on the metronome = how many times will it click in one minute. Thus, the metronome provides a regular rhythm or pulse with which musicians can synchronize their playing.
How a Metronome Works?
A mechanical metronome is a pendulum with a weight at the end. In order to increase the pace, you have to move the weight down the rod and the pendulum will start swinging faster. Inside the metronome, there is a mechanism that produces a click. Such metronomes do not need batteries or electricity.
Electronic or digital metronomes look similar to mechanical ones but run on batteries. They do not have a pendulum rod, and the speed is set using the buttons. In many models, you can adjust the sound of the metronome bit.
The most modern option is apps for a smartphone or iPhone. They have the same principle of operation – you set the desired count of beats per minute and the metronome gives clicks at the pace you need.
What Is the Point of a Metronome?
A metronome is a training tool that will help you in your piano practices. You don’t need to use it during talks or in lessons with a teacher. It is usually used for training at a slower pace to make sure that your piano playing is on time and the pulsation is not erratic.
Note! Metronome doesn’t help you play fast, it helps you play on time!
This is very important, especially in the beginning stages of piano training. The metronome does not need to be used constantly. It is a training tool that will help you develop an understanding of rhythmic sequences and soon play on time and rhythmically without its help.
Developing an inner sense of pulse is the main goal of practice with a metronome.
Regular use of the metronome for piano practice helps to quickly overcome problems with uneven rhythm and the concept of playing in time. Also, the metronome helps to quickly learn complex rhythmic patterns in piano pieces.
How Does Using a Metronome Help Me?
A metronome is not just a device that marks time, it develops important skills in musical ear and technique:
- Working with the metronome will help you take your piano playing to a more advanced level.
- This tool helps you focus on rhythm – paying attention not only to the notes but also to their correct duration and to playing at the same pace.
- A metronome is a great way to slow down some difficult part of your piece of music and learn it better in a slower tempo.
- In addition, this is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and out of the standard 4/4 time signature. With this tool, it will be easier for you to master rarer time signatures, rhythmic patterns, and polyrhythms.
How To Use a Metronome for Piano Practice? 6 Different Ways
The purpose of using a metronome is to improve your sense of rhythm, improve your piano development, and speed up your progress in playing.
Most students learn the skill of reading music fairly quickly. But the progress of the technique and tempo of the play is usually more difficult. The same applies to such a difficult skill as a polyrhythm.
Let’s talk more about ways to use a metronome and how it can help you improve your piano practice.
Speed Control – Playing on time
The first way to use a metronome is to check the correct speed of a piece of music.
At the beginning of many pieces, the tempo is usually indicated. Tempo indications are written in the upper left corner of the score. For example, it could be “Allegro mm.120”.
Allegro is a fairly fast tempo, and the accurate counting of this tool helps us understand how fast it should be.
Metronome as a Tempo Stabilizer
Another way is to use the metronome as a tempo stabilizer. This is very useful when working on scales, arpeggios, and exercises.
Even if you think you’re playing well and smoothly, be sure to test your playing with a metronome! You will most likely find places where you slow down or speed up.
Speed Up a Piece – Playing up to tempo
A third way is to use a metronome to speed up the tempo of the piece.
To do this, follow these steps regularly:
- Choose a small part of the piece. Set the metronome to a comfortable tempo at which you can easily play your piece without mistakes.
- If you played everything without mistakes – increase the speed of the metronome by one click.
- Gradually increase the speed of the metronome each time. If you start to make mistakes or stop while playing, slow it down by one click – and play at a slower tempo.
With this simple method, with each new practice, you will be able to play faster and faster.
Sight Reading Practice
The fourth way to use the metronome is to help you learn piano sight reading. A common mistake in sight reading is stopping after every measure.
Select an easy melody and set the metronome to a slow tempo. Each beat will push you forward and it will be easier for you to learn to look ahead and not stop.
Metronome for Learning Rhythmic Complexes
This tool not only helps you play at exactly the right tempo but also helps you understand rhythms and rhythmic structures in music.
Already in the very first lessons, you can use a metronome to study different note values.
For piano practice, it is better to take a simple song. Set the tool to a slow tempo. One click is one beat or one quarter note. Accordingly, a half note is two beats, and a whole note is 4 beats.
Thus, you will quickly memorize the duration of the notes and their count.
A little advice. Very often, for beginners, practicing with a metronome seems very difficult for students. It starts to seem that it plays at some other pace and it is very difficult to catch its beat.
Do not start playing immediately after turning on the tool! First, count a few bars out loud along with the beats. So you tune in to the desired tempo and it will be easier for you to play along with it.
How to Use Metronomes as “Testing” Devices?
And the last way – the test! Determine the purpose of your practice, such as a passage with one hand or a short section of a piece.
Now with your metronome you can “measure” the quality of your playing – check at what tempo you are playing without any mistakes or what is your maximum tempo for today. It is very interesting to follow your progress in the study of different songs.
You can also check if you are playing scales or etudes smoothly. Very often it seems to us that we play everything at the same pace, although in fact we sometimes slow down or speed up.
Of course, this should not be abused! You don’t have to play like a machine. There is such a thing in music as rubato – sometimes we need to slow down (ritenuto) or speed up (accelerando) the tempo to make the piece sound really beautiful. But it is important to feel the same tempo from start to finish.
This way – “Testing” – is designed to help you find those places in the music piece, where slowing down or speeding up is not needed, but technically it needs more practice.
Do pianists use metronome?
Yes. Even professional musicians practice with a metronome and play scales, arpeggios, and etudes. To be an advanced and especially professional musician, you need to have good technique, a sense of rhythm and timing.
Should you practice piano with a metronome?
Yes, it’s a great way to upgrade your everyday practice. I recommend using it when learning scales, exercises, difficult parts in pieces, and testing yourself.
How does a metronome work for piano?
Metronomes are used to practice with any musical instrument. They give even rhythmic clicks (beats) at a set speed to help you play at the right tempo.
Metronomes are wonderful devices that help us raise our level of practice and improve our playing faster.
There are several types of metronomes – mechanical, electronic (digital), apps for iPhones and for Android, and built-in digital instruments. Any of these types can be used in your music lessons.
In our article, we talked about using a metronome in music lessons – in different ways for different purposes. I hope my tips will be useful to you and you will be able to improve your technical level soon.
I invite you to read my other articles on teaching music. If you have any questions – write your comment on this article and I will be happy to answer you!
You have read to the end! If you want to know more, watch the following video.
Hello! My name is Lucy.
I am a musician, pianist, and piano teacher with over 10 years of experience. I, along with my professional team, created this website. Here I want to share my experience and knowledge with you. I write articles about learning the piano, its features and history, and reviews of the best digital pianos and accessories.
I hope my site will be useful to you!