The Key to Practice with a Metronome

The Key to Practice with a Metronome

The metronome is a great tool to incorporate into your practice routine. If used effectively, it can improve your rhythm and technique quickly and efficiently. Below is a list of some useful practice techniques to use with your metronome. 

The most typical use of the metronome is to assist with slow practice. It allows you to keep your tempo even and consistent at slow speeds, which you can gradually increase. No matter how difficult a section of music is, if played slow enough it can always be played perfectly.

A great way to slowly increase your tempo and keep track of your progress is to make a metronome chart. To make your chart, draw a grid. Make your x-axis the speeds you want to achieve on the metronome (72, 76, 80, 84, 88, 92, etc.). Then use checkmarks on the y-axis to keep track of how many times you practice each tempo marking. Try doing each tempo marking 5 times before moving up to the next one. 

The metronome can also help your counting by subdividing for you. If you have a passage where the music is syncopated or uses mixed meter, use your metronome to click the smallest subdivision and keep your rhythm locked in.

If you are working on a difficult run, in addition to using the metronome to slow down your practice, you can add accents or dotted rhythms to further help your run become more even and consistent. Practicing with accents means to purposefully add an accent to some of the notes of a passage. Try accenting one out of every four notes and working through every permutation by starting this pattern on the first, second, third, and fourth notes of the section.

Practicing with dotted rhythms means taking a passage of even notes and purposefully changing the rhythm to be uneven (example: even eighth notes become dotted eighth notes followed by sixteenth notes). Doing this allows you to practice with more time to anticipate the next note in a difficult run. If using this technique, be sure to practice the reverse dotted rhythm as well (sixteenth note followed by a dotted eighth note).

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