Practicing is the key to playing any instrument well. However, taking time out of your schedule or getting your child to sit at the piano or pick up their violin is only half of what it means to practice. Practicing can help you greatly improve in your skills and playing abilities, but practicing well is what will truly make the difference, allowing you to truly grow in your skills and see progress in your playing. As the popular saying goes, “practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Knowing that Vince Lombardi is credited with this saying, only makes it more compelling.
There are many ways to practice well and one such way is practicing with a metronome. A metronome won’t improve every part of your playing, but it will dramatically improve your timing and technique, and give you a sense of accomplishment.
Improves Your Timing
As some are blessed with perfect pitch, some are naturally gifted with a sense of timing. However, for the typical musician, this is not the case. Improving a player’s timing is something that must be practiced again and again. Before we get into how timing can be improved, we must understand what the term “timing” is actually referring to. Timing is the sense of the beat of a particular song or in other words, where the beat falls in relation to the written notes of the song. Having good timing means that you accurately fit each note into the beat of the song.
A metronome can help players improve your timing or sense of rhythm because it, as a mechanical device, is accurate and consistent. It does not speed up or fall behind as we humans are prone to do. It can help the player hold notes for their whole amount and to play in tempo when the beat is subdivided into smaller notes such as eighth notes, sixteenth notes and even thirty-second notes. When you improve your timing, you will be able to play any piece better, play within a group well, and sight read better than you ever have before.
Builds Your Speed
Practicing with a metronome also helps a player build their playing speed. If you’ve ever beheld someone playing a solo and wondered how they are able to play across the keys of their piano, or the frets of their guitar so quickly, it is most likely due to practicing with a metronome. Gradually increasing the speed of a metronome and playing with it allows you to push the limits of what you can physically do. To truly make progress in building your speed, choose a section of music with subdivided notes such as sixteenth or thirty-second notes and pick a tempo on the metronome at which you can play that phrase perfectly. Play that section at that tempo through five times and then increase the speed of your metronome and play through that phrase five more times. Keep increasing the speed of your metronome as you play through the phrase perfectly. If you make a mistake, decrease your speed and play through the phrase perfectly five times and then increase the speed once again.
Provides a Sense of Progress
Along with generally improving your sense of timing and technique, you will also experience a sense of accomplishment. Practicing with a metronome is a sure way to see progress in your playing abilities. As mentioned above, practicing with a metronome will give you a better sense of the tempo allowing you to know when you or your student aren’t playing a piece correctly and can improve your sight-reading skills, as well as your ability to play within a group. Seeing your progress is an exciting thing and will naturally motivate you or your student to keep playing and practicing everyday.
Ready to Help Your Child Take Their Playing to The Next Level?
The California Conservatory of Music provides Redwood City piano lessons and violin lessons for all ages. Our music teachers are professional music teachers who have the skills to help your child—and you—reach their full potential, learn valuable foundational concepts about music, and to cultivate a love of music. We offer private lessons as well as theory classes, and opportunities to perform regularly in recitals. If you or your child is ready to take piano lessons, violin lesson, or guitar lessons, contact California Conservatory of Music in Redwood City.