How To Use A Metronome

How To Use A Metronome: Playing With A Metronome

How to use a metronome? How to set tempo on a metronome? Do I need to practice with a metronome? Using a metronome with guitar, piano, and drums, how can I do it? When it comes to novice musicians, it is not only important you are to play a piece correctly, but you should also be able to play while staying on rhythm and not out of it. So, if this is one of your problems, using a metronome in your practice sessions would surely be such a great help after all.

So whether you are a guitar player, drummer, or pianist, join us as we are going to discuss how you can integrate the metronome into your practice methods, as this device has already been a proven way to help musicians develop their senses and skills in being able to play in the beat perfectly.

Do I Need To Practice With A Metronome

So, do you need to practice with a metronome? If you are a novice and are looking for a great way to practice with your musical instrument, playing with a metronome would be an excellent option for you to speed up your learning, as it is a proven way to be a very effective method in helping beginning musicians go to the next level.

Here are some reasons why you should practice with a metronome:

Your Timing Will Surely Improve

When talking about the metronome, the first thing that comes to mind with musicians is either timing or rhythm, so if you are using one in your practice sessions, it is expected that you are trying to improve yourself to be able to play on timing and keep in rhythm.

With the metronome, it will enhance your sense of how each beat is divided or even where it is, and being off-beat is typically a problem with novice musicians; however, there are also many intermediate and even advanced musicians that cannot keep their timing while playing a song. So, not everyone is absolved when it comes to this issue.

For a musician, it is very important to stay on timing and be able to stay on the beat, and practicing consistently with a metronome will help you keep your attention on where the beat is when playing. Always remember that it can be a little bit difficult to do, so if you are having a hard time, do not give up if you are serious about becoming a better musician.

Your Playing Speed Will Surely Be Developed

Aside from being able to learn how to stay in rhythm and keep your timing, using a metronome when practicing will also help you develop your playing speed. If you are a rock or metal guitarist or drummer who loves to shred or do a drum solo, an excellent way to be able to achieve it is to practice with a metronome.

The basic rule in developing your playing speed is to gradually build it up rather than going too fast immediately. With the metronome, you can set up the speed to where you are most comfortable before going to a faster speed; if you think you can already cope with a faster one, before going to the fastest one, you can play.

You will have to first make your body comfortable when playing a song, which is why you need to practice it at the rate where you are most comfortable. Aside from the physical demands that come with it, you also have to prepare yourself mentally, which is why you need first to get acclimated to a slower pace of what you are playing before going to a faster speed.

You Can Also Learn How To Slow Down Not Always Go Fast

Sometimes, it is also not a good idea to always go fast in playing a musical instrument, as you will also need to learn how to play slowly. With the metronome, not only can you turn up the speed, but you can also tone it down. Practicing how to slow down on your playing will be a great help in building a better technique, as playing slower will make your playing also more defined, especially if you are still a beginner.

With a slower pace, it allows your muscle memory to have a great grasp of how to play the song perfectly, which can be a very hard thing to achieve when playing at a faster pace. Thanks to the metronome, it can prevent you from playing very fast at slower songs, while it can also prevent you from playing very slow at faster songs.

It Helps Assess Your Level As A Musician

If you want to know where your skill levels are as a musician, an excellent way to assess yourself is to use a metronome. By playing one, you can have an idea of where you stand as a musician, while you can also check out whether you have improved or not on your playing. When playing a song, you just have to check out whether you can play it or not at a certain speed. That is so simple.

The important thing in assessing yourself by practicing with a metronome is that when you already have a good where you are at as a musician, you can also be able to be more efficient in your practice time and methods, so you can focus more on the things that you need to improve and not waste time with other things. If you can already play smoothly at a certain speed, do not try to stay on it and go for a faster tempo.

It Helps You To Get Acclimated In Recording Setups

If you are serious about becoming a professional musician, one thing that you’ll probably experience in your career is recording yourself playing your musical instrument. So, when you are already at this, you should know you will have to use a metronome to be able to stay in rhythm, as it is not the same as when you are playing with other people.

If an audio engineer in the studio requires you to use one, you have to do it, as it will not only make your playing easier, but it will also make their jobs a lot easier too. From editing to mixing, things will be a lot easier for the audio and technical guys if you are playing on the tempo and not out of it.

However, if you are not used to it, it can really be a huge problem, as it can make the recording process longer than what is expected. So, before putting yourself in a position where you are going to record yourself in your home or in a studio, possibly with your bandmates, you need first to get used to playing your musical instrument while using a metronome.

How To Set Tempo On Metronome

So, how to set tempo on a metronome? Remember that there are two main types of metronomes that are usually seen in the market: mechanical and digital. With mechanical metronomes, you won’t need electricity, as they only work with a wind-up mechanism. You can also adjust it with different speed options, which is important for building up speed when practicing your musical instrument.

For digital metronomes, it is a more modern form of the metronome, which can be very compact and lightweight, making them very easy to bring anywhere and can be very convenient for practicing. You can also connect a headphone so you can better the clicking sound that the metronome is famous for. However, you will need electricity to turn it on, so you need to charge it so that you can bring it with you.

In setting the tempo on a mechanical metronome, you will have to first remove its brake. By doing it, turn the metronome over so you can see its bottom, and if you see its brake, remove it before putting it back into its original position. The next thing is to remove its cover, which is pretty typical with mechanical metronomes.

After removing the cover, I am sure that you’ll notice the numbers from below going up in the metronome, and if you are not familiar with this, it is the tempo range of the metronome. Remember that the unit that is used in this device is beats per minute. So, to set it up, slide the sliding weight of the pendulum to the number you prefer, whether it is 80, 120, or higher.

After setting the weight to the number you are most comfortable with, release the metronome from its lock by pushing it to its right. After it releases, go to the bottom side of your metronome, and you will probably see a key. If there is, turn it to wind up the metronome, as it is mechanical and does not need electricity to work.

For it to start, swing the metronome’s pendulum all the way to the right and then release it. Usually, its accent bell switch is located on the bottom left side, so if you want to hear an accent bell in your metronome, set it to your preferred number or also set it to zero if you do want to hear from it.

With digital metronomes, you can easily push the power button to turn it on. After doing it, you can immediately set its speed to the number of beats per minute you are most comfortable with, whether it is 40, 80, 120, or higher. The next step is to set its time signature, which is a nice feature for digital metronomes, as it is only rare for mechanical versions to have this one.

Lastly, one great feature that mechanical metronomes do not have is that you can connect a headphone to it, so you can clearly listen to the clicking sound from the device. So, if you have inserted one, set the volume to where you can hear the clicking sound while still being able to hear the song you are playing with.

Using A Metronome With A Guitar

When playing the guitar, not only is it important that you play the right chords, but it is also important that you stay in rhythm, and what better way for you to develop this skill than using a metronome while you are practicing? So, how to do it? Here are the steps for using a metronome for your guitar playing:

Before you are going to use a metronome, make sure that you have familiarized what you are going to play first, as it important not only to play in rhythm but also to play correctly, and if you are playing the wrong chords or riff, then there is no point for you as of the moment to practice with a metronome.

However, if you think you are good to go and want to use the metronome already, then start by setting the rhythm of the device to 4/4 time. Although you can set it to a different signature time, 4/4 is the most common of them all, which is why it is the perfect measurement when you are still practicing and getting acclimated with how to use a metronome.

After setting up your metronome’s signature time, the next thing you should do is to set the tempo you are most comfortable with and which would be easy for you to start with, maybe around 70 beats per minute. However, if you think that it might be too slow for you, then adjust for a faster tempo. Remember that although most songs are in the range of 100 beats per minute, it is still important for you to perfectly play the guitar, which is why playing at slower speeds is recommended for novice guitarists learning the metronome.

After setting the metronome, you can now start to play the guitar by having just one strum per beat. Although it might be a little bit boring, make sure that you can perfect it for a straight two minutes, as this will help you strum perfectly while matching the beat correctly. If you have already mastered it, start to take up the speed to another notch while still having one strum per beat.

The next thing you should do is to play a more complicated strumming pattern while still focusing on staying on the rhythm, even when you have to change the guitar chords. You can also cut out the metronome every other measure as it will help you to stay in rhythm while having no guide as you are playing the guitar. This will keep you on your toes as the metronome’s clicking sound will go back at the right time.

The last thing you should do is try different tempos and time signatures, as this will be a huge help in your improvement as a guitar player. Either you can try slower or faster songs, depending on your preference; however, you should try everything out, as this will improve your versatility as a musician.

Using A Metronome With A Drums

So, how to use a metronome while playing the drums? As a percussion instrument, it is very important that while you are playing the drums, you are also staying on the beat and not getting out of it, even just for a short time.

To integrate the metronome into your practice sessions, start by setting a specific beats-per-minute value and play along while following the clicking sound that the device is producing. If you know the specific BPM of the song you want to play, you can set the BPM value to half of it, so you can play it slower first and be able to execute the techniques smoothly before going into a faster tempo. 

So, whether you are playing a drum beat or drum rudiment, it is important not only that you stay on rhythm but also that you play the song correctly. If you are still a beginner who’s trying to master some drum fills and drum solos, you’ll notice that you easily get out of rhythm when playing them. Do not worry about these things, as even intermediate and advanced drummers make mistakes, especially with this one; however, with the help of a metronome, you should try to get used to doing these drum techniques without falling behind or speeding too much with your tempo.

If you are serious about improving or dreaming of becoming a great drummer, using the metronome will also be a part of your career, as it is frequently used in studios for recording or even while you are playing on a stage in a live concert, as it will be your guide not to get out of the song’s tempo.

Using A Metronome With A Piano

So how to use a metronome while playing the piano? Similar to how to use a metronome with the guitar and drums, you will also need to find the time signature which you are most comfortable with. However, if the time signature you are trying to play with is maybe comfortable for you to play with, you can use that, so it won’t be a hassle for you when you are already practicing with the device. Most of the sheet music also shows the time signature of the piece, so it won’t be difficult for you to search for it.

You can then set the tempo of the song; however, if it might still be a little bit difficult for you, you can adjust by making it slower so you can get used to it first before going to a faster tempo. Playing at a slower tempo will also help you make your playing smoother, especially on parts where it can be complex for you to execute at a normal speed. Make sure that you are already comfortable playing with your current speed before gradually stepping up the tempo.

If you are using a digital metronome, it would be a huge help if you also use a headphone, so you can clearly listen to the metronome’s clicking sound to be able to follow it while playing the piano. After some time, and when you are already comfortable playing the piano with the metronome, you can then start to lower the volume of the device, so you won’t have to depend on it too much to be able to stay in a song’s tempo.

So, how to use a metronome? As an excellent method to develop your skills to stay on the beat as a musician, you must use the metronome first to where you are most comfortable. Set the tempo and signature time to a slower pace first before going to faster ones, as it is important to gradually increase the speed until you are already ready to play the piece perfectly at that specific tempo.