How to practice with a metronome

2024-07-04

For some, it's a loyal companion on their musical journey; for others, an unforgiving taskmaster. Yet, playing with a metronome is one of the best practice techniques when learning a musical instrument, widely recommended technique by teachers. Find out how this simple device can transform your music practice, with expert tips, a free online metronome and a guitar video playthrough.

JUMP TO SECTION
  • What is a metronome?
  • Types of metronome
  • Free online metronome
  • Why should you practice with a metronome?
  • Video - Guitar playthrough to metronome with soloist Kfir Ochaion
  • How do you stay in time with a metronome?
  • Tips on practicing with a metronome
  • Common problems when playing with a metronome
  • Explore our video courses for metronome-guided practice

What is a metronome?

A metronome is a device that helps musicians practice with precise timing. It produces a steady, audible click (or sometimes a beep, light pulse, or vibration) at a user-defined rate, typically measured in beats per minute (BPM).

By setting the desired tempo on the metronome, you essentially create a consistent reference point for your playing. This helps you develop a strong sense of rhythm and timing as you practice guitar (or any other instrument!).

Types of metronome

Metronometypes.webpTraditional metronome

Remember this classic with its pendulum swing and ticking sound? Requiring no batteries or other power supply, it is a purely mechanical device where the tempo is simply influenced by an iron weight that moves a pendulum.

Digital metronomes

The digital age has ushered in electronic metronomes, often bundled with guitar tuners, mobile apps or on music education websites. They usually have settings for:

  • Time signature - such as 4/4 (4 beats to a bar)

  • Tempo - speed of the beat measured in BPM (beats per minute)

  • Tap - to find the tempo of the original track

  • Accent - on/off - places a natural accent on the first beat of the bar

Free online metronome

Screenshot 2024-07-09 104840.webpAlways have a fully-functioned metronome handy. Our tool lets you set the tempo with a slider, tap to a song's beat, or enter a specific BPM. You can even change time signatures (like 4/4, 3/4) to help you master music's rhythm.

Why should you practice with a metronome?

  • Improve your sense of rhythm - A metronome fine-tunes your sense of rhythm when playing, teaching you the precise timing of each note. This makes sure your musical timing is spot on and helps learn the intricacies of new songs.

  • Master speed gradually - With a metronome, you start slow, especially on the tough bits, gradually speeding up. It’s a great way to perfect your technique and rhythm without even noticing.

  • Maintain a steady tempo – Especially as a beginner, almost all musicians (including drummers, of course) tend to speed up when playing. A metronome ensures you maintain a consistent pace, helping to embed a steady tempo in your playing from the get-go.

  • Tracks your progress - Nothing beats the feeling of nailing a song at its right tempo. The metronome is there to show you how far you’ve come, turning practice into progress.

  • Studio essential - Heading into the studio? A metronome is a must-have to avoid timing errors that could ruin your effort. Bringing a metronome into the studio ensures your performance is tight and on point, saving you time and frustration.

ARTMASTER TIP: If you’re a guitarist, a metronome isn’t the only essential tool you’ll need. Take a look at our collection of free customizable guitar tools, where you’ll also find a chord chart generator and a guitar tuner. And be sure to check out our guides on how to tune a guitar and practicing with a metronome.

Video - Guitar playthrough to metronome with soloist Kfir Ochaion

Take a look at how it’s done with acclaimed guitar soloist Kfir Ochaion. In this video from his Guitar Solo course, Kfir demonstrates practicing Eric Clapton’s iconic solo from "Wonderful Tonight" track at a slower speed (70 BPM)._DSC8094 (2).webp

If you want to master the art of the guitar solo with Kfir Ochaion, guitarist with over 5M followers, sign up to his inspirational soloing course.

How do you stay in time with a metronome?

  • Go slow: Start easy so you can play without mistakes.

  • Listen up: Try to match the sound of your playing with the metronome's clicks.

  • Break it down: Think of each click being split into smaller parts for tricky parts.

  • Tap your foot: Tapping along helps you feel the beat better.

  • Watch it: Look at the metronome if it moves or lights up to help keep track.

  • Speed up slowly: Once you're good at a slow speed, try a little faster.

  • Practice a lot: The more you do it, the better you'll get.

  • Work on hard parts: Spend extra time on bits you find tough.

Tips on practicing with a metronome

No matter if you're playing your favourite guitar solos or improving your piano technique, a metronome is a great practice tool. Here's how to use it effectively for both instruments:

Guitar

  • Match the beat: When you play, try to make your strumming or plucking happen right with the metronome's clicks.

  • Left-hand sync: Pay attention to how your fingers press the strings in time with the beat. This helps you play smoother and faster over time.

Piano

  • Hands together... and apart: Start practising with one hand at a time with the metronome, then try playing with both hands together. This helps you keep good time even when your hands are doing different things.

  • Steady pace: Work on keeping a steady speed with the metronome, especially when playing complicated parts or moving your hands across the keyboard.

Common problems when playing with a metronome

It's normal to encounter frustrations when starting with a metronome. If you find the device seemingly "speeding up" or "skipping," remind yourself that the metronome is consistent — it's our perception that changes. Practice with a metronome can uncover subtle timing inconsistencies.

Explore our video courses for metronome-guided practice

Looking to tighten up your timing on guitar, piano, or even bass? Check out our courses on, electric/acoustic guitar, piano, bass and more!

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