You might wonder why exactly you need to use a Metronome when you learn to play the piano, especially if you're not sure what one is.
Well, think about all of the different things you have to learn when you start piano lessons. You learn to read notes in music and where those notes are on your keyboard, you learn how to count notes and even rests in your music, and you also learn how to play scales along with pieces, that help your technique grow.
Rhythm is one of the main aspects of music that we learn from the very beginning.
Rhythm includes things like counting the right number of beats per measure, making sure you play the right length for your notes, and that your tempo is steady and at the right pace for your to play your music well.
It's when we get into Tempo, and the speed of your music is when we need to bring the Metronome into our playing.
Let's find out just what a Metronome is so we can better understand why we need to learn to play with one.
Step 1: What Is a Metronome?
A Metronome is simply a device that keeps the beat for you, while you play your piano piece. It's just like if you put your hand over your heart and felt it beat for several minutes. You can hear how it is for the most part, beating at a very steady rhythm or pace. This is Tempo in music.
Tempo can be fast or slow, it doesn't matter; either way, you will always have a steady pulse to the music that can be heard through the Metronome.
Metronomes can create beats that range from very slow - 10, all the way up to very fast - 200.
The benefit of using a Metronome when we practice is that it helps us to stay in the boundaries of how fast or slow we play.
Piano pieces are written with a specific tempo in mind from the beginning and that tempo us usually followed throughout the piece, until you get into more advanced music later on.
Quite often we tend to play faster in the parts of our music that we know well, and then we'll play slower in the parts that we don't know as well. This teaches bad habits actually, and when we bring in the Metronome to keep us steady the whole time, we correct any of those habits and become grounded in playing everything at the right tempo.
Let's look a little more into Tempo in the next step.
Step 2: What Is Tempo?
We already know that Tempo is the speed at which you play your piano piece.
It's important to remember that you also need to know how many beats in each measure you are supposed to count.
This is what a Time Signature tells you. You will always find the Time Signature at the beginning of a piece - at the far left of the music staff. (see image 2)
*Remember that the Time Signature tells us how many beats are in each measure and what kind of note gets that beat, or count.*
Once you know how many beats you are counting in each measure, then you can use the Metronome to help you play those beats at the same steady tempo from start to finish.
Before you actually try playing a simple piece with the metronome, sit down with just your music and count out the beats with the metronome ticking on a slow easy tempo.
Count each beat in sync with the beats that you hear on the metronome, and follow visually along with your music as you count the beats.
Are you ready to start playing your piano with the metronome now?
Step 3: How to Play Your Piano With Your Metronome
Before you try playing a piano piece with your metronome, just try counting 4 quarter notes along with the beats sounding from the metronome.
Put the Metronome on a very slow pace; for example number 50.
Count 1, 2, 3, 4...while the metronome beats each one out loud. Do this a few times.
Next, move the metronome up to number 60.
Do you hear how it's faster? Now count 4 quarter notes with each beat that you hear.
Keep with the tempo of the metronome; don't get faster or slower than it is.
Now move up 10 more numbers to 70, then 80, and so on...going as far up as you can until you can't really stay with the metronome any longer. How far did you move up?
OK...now you're going to do the same thing on your keyboard.
Find Middle C. Turn your metronome back on, and bring the tempo setting back down to 50, where you started before when just counting the beats instead of playing them.
This time you're going to play the C note for each quarter note, instead of saying the beat. Do this for a few measures to get used to it.
Now, just like before, start moving your Metronome up anywhere from 3-10 numbers and try it all again. You have to play faster this time. Are you able to keep with the Metronome and not get behind or ahead of it?
Keep moving the metronome up until it is too fast for you to keep up with.
Practicing with your Metronome this way before starting to use it with your music will help you get used to the sound and the structure that it provides.
Patience and steady work are what help us get used to practicing with a metronome. It helps our playing in so many ways so start including a metronome in your own practice time.
If you'd like to see me work on some easy pieces and work through some of the challenges in playing with a metronome, check out my video tutorial and Come Practice With Me in the final step!
Step 4: Come Practice With Me!
In this lesson, we talked about counting and playing quarter notes with the Metronome.
It can get a little trickier when we start counting 8th notes and 16th notes that all have to fit within the tempo.
In this video, I introduce you to playing all of these different types of notes with the metronome as well as go over some easy pieces that you can play along with, to get some real time experience.
I'll also show you how to "feel" the beat in your music, which will help you connect even more with the Metronome and start benefitting from using one!