One of the most important qualities of a musician’s playing is their inner sense of beat and pulse. Besides playing alongside the teacher during lessons, one of the best ways to develop a good sense of pulse is with consistent metronome practice. However, parents often have difficulty developing this skill with their children during home practice. A metronome is a great tool for creating an inner pulse in a young guitarist.
A metronome is a device that creates a regular, steady beat. The metronome can be set to different tempos, given in beats per minute, or BPM. Your teacher will give you the metronome marking (what BPM to set your metronome to) for home practice.
This clip shows 6 year old Katie Wang working with a metronome on “With Steady Hands” by Frank Longay from Suzuki Guitar Book 1.
Practicing at a steady tempo strengthens a guitarist’s rhythmic sense, and promotes clarity of endeavor. It’s very useful for coordinating the timing of the right and left hands. Metronome practice increases focus, and also adds variety to daily practice. Playing with an internal sense of pulse is the gateway to playing musically. Additionally, when guitar students review pieces that they have worked on with a metronome, the memory comes easily because of their clear and precise practice.
There are many free metronome apps available for phones and tablets, but I encourage students to have their own metronome. They enjoy having something of their own, as a sort of practice buddy. Being responsible for that aspect of their practice empowers them. Also important, phones and tablets are often a distraction. (I’ve yet to see a metronome that comes with Angry Birds!).
Here are two links to simple metronomes:
Happy metronome practicing!