Here in the studio, we’re getting ready for a contest with the National Federation of Music Clubs during quite a few piano lessons. All students who enter will perform two pieces from memory in front of judges. It’s important to know your pieces inside and out in a situation like this, and one tool we use, particularly in piano lessons is the metronome. Don’t mistake its employment for enjoyment though! Most people have a disdain for the metronome. The repetitive sound is annoying, and the perfect timing can be frustrating. BUT. It’s an amazing practice tool.
Let’s breakdown the functionality of this thing. When you turn on the metronome, whether it’s a physical device or an app on your phone, you select a number. Then it ticks. That number is the number of beats per minute – simple! However, when you turn it on, it beats perfect time. This is a great diagnostic tool. You will know instantly where you play too slow and where you play too fast; it’s a stabilizer.
Cue the huffing and puffing. This excellent exposure is exactly what frustrates students. Any slight imperfection in rhythm will throw you off. The only way to play from start to finish with the metronome ticking is by keeping perfect time. This is tedious work that requires focused repetition. But while you’re sitting there, going over that spot with all the pauses yet again, remember. Once you can completely follow the metronome, you will turn it off, and you will play your piece through smooth. You won’t have gaps in your playing, and you won’t be frustrated in all the usual spots that slowed you down before. You’ll walk away from the piano, proud of your achievement in that piece…and then it will be time to start a new one! Break out the metronome!