Although metronome practice is a very important part of any musician’s growth and development, the useful little device can sometimes feel more like a torture device than a practice aid! As a student – whether you’re taking music lessons in Denver or elsewhere – it can be tricky to learn how to line up with a metronome, making it difficult to find the motivation to consistently practice with one. The following exercises are a great way to learn how to stay with a metronome and develop a better internal sense of time.
Count Along to the Metronome
Before even practicing piano with a metronome, it can be very helpful to simply count measures out loud along with it. Counting will not only give you a sense of the beat, it will also give you a sense of where in the measure – or even where in a longer phrase – you are. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can even count out loud while you play your instrument! The more that you count out loud with a metronome, the more you will internalize that sense of time and have that count going in your head when you play your instrument.
To start, simply count quarter notes “1 2 3 4” out loud along to the click of your metronome. If your metronome can have a louder/more accented click on 1, have it do so, as this will help keep you accountable for the downbeat. Focus and try to make both your individual beats and your measures line up with the metronome. Once you’re comfortable lining up your quarter notes you can try counting eighth notes “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”, fitting two syllables to each click, and then after that you can try sixteenth notes “1 e and a 2 e and a …”, with four syllables to each click.
Clap Along to the Metronome (While Counting!)
After you can comfortably count along to a metronome, you can start clapping along as well. Approach this much like the counting exercise, clapping quarter notes then moving on to eighth notes and sixteenth notes. You can also count and clap at the same time! Doing both leads to six combination exercises where you count and clap different note values. You can count quarter notes and clap eighth notes, count quarter notes and clap sixteenth notes, count eighth notes and clap sixteenth notes, or flip these three exercises by switching which note value you count and which one you clap.
Play Something Simple
Once you start to feel comfortable with lining up your counting and clapping to a metronome, you can try playing your instrument along to it as well. Start off by playing something simple with quarter notes, like a C Major pentascale on piano or an A Major scale on violin or you can also ask your Denver music teacher for recommendations. It is important to pick something that you can easily play because the focus of this exercise is on learning to keep time with your metronome, and having to think about the notes you’re playing can detract from the development of your time sense. You can apply everything you’ve done up to this point as well, such as moving on to faster note values, counting out loud while you play, and counting and playing different note values.
Play Through Repertoire
Now that you can comfortably keep time with a metronome via counting, clapping, and simple patterns on your instrument, try using the metronome to guide your time feel on pieces that you know how to play. You might find that you unknowingly rush or drag in certain places, but that’s okay! Just use your knowledge of how to line up with the metronome to adjust how you play certain phrases. The more that you do this, the more you will naturally be able to keep steady time as you play through a piece of music.
Need More Help?
Even with these exercises, it can be tough to learn how to comfortably play along to a metronome. Luckily, Lessons In Your Home teachers are happy to help you get there! They can either come to your home to teach or can also provide online music lessons. Our virtual music lessons are taught by local music teachers who plan their lessons to suit your child. Contact us today!
By K.R. Azad