Quick Tips

Keeping Beat at the Piano: Metronome Options

By Jesse Preis

Looking for a piano metronome? Learn about options and how to use these helpful devices.

Every pianist should use a metronome when they practice. Do you need to purchase or download a piano metronome? Are you curious about what you need to look for? Whether you want a traditional mechanical metronome, a digital metronome, or an easy-to-download app, there are lots of different products that you can choose from. In the following article we will discuss different metronome options and what to keep in mind as you choose the best option for you.

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The metronome’s history and design

Although the metronome wasn’t popular until the 1800s, there are historical accounts that the very first metronome-like device was designed in Andalusia, Spain in the 9th century by polymath Abbas ibn Firnas. Little is known about its design or intended use, but this device could keep a steady beat.

In 1814, German inventor Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel developed what is known as the “first successful metronome.” Winkel himself called his invention the musical chronometer. He created it by adding weights to a pendulum. His invention keep a steady beat that could be appropriately applied to musical study.

In the following year, 1815, another German inventor named Johann Nepomuk Maelzel added a scale to Winkel’s metronome, which allowed the metronome to beat at different speeds. He built 200 metronomes and sent them out to friends and colleagues, one of whom was famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

Is a metronome necessary for piano?

Is it absolutely necessary to have a metronome to play the piano? The answer to this question is probably no, but it is absolutely necessary to practice with a metronome in order to play piano at a higher level. Our human brain can keep time, but without consistent training that time may fluctuate in a non-musical manner. The metronome helps to train our brain to keep a steady time that can be applied successfully and artfully to music.

What are the benefits of practicing piano with a metronome?

Practicing with a metronome provides musicians many benefits. When you practice with a metronome you’ll:

  • develop a steady sense of time
  • improve your technique
  • Learn how to subdivide (feel smaller pieces of each beat) to make your rhythm more accurate
  • Have a guide to help you practice difficult sections slowly, then gradually work up to performance tempo

What is the best metronome for piano players?

The best metronome is one that is easy for the pianist to use and gives the pianist the freedom to practice/perform any piece that they are learning. There are excellent piano metronome apps available online and there are also very useful mechanical and digital metronomes that are available to order online.

Piano metronome recommendations

Depending on whether you want an app or a physical metronome, the prices for each device will differ. The apps are available for download at no extra charge.

Android Metronome Apps:

Apple Metronome Apps:

Mechanical/Digital Options:

More advanced metronome options:

Now that you know more about metronomes and have different options that you can purchase or download, you are almost ready to practice keeping a steady beat!

Tips for using a metronome

  • Without the metronome, first practice the musical phrase that you are focusing on so that you feel confident with the notes.
  • If your metronome has the option, set the time signature on the metronome, such as 4/4, 2/4, 3/4, 6/8, etc. 
    • The metronome may allow you to set beats/bar and clicks/beat. If you want each beat to be equal with a quarter note, set the clicks/beat to 1. If you would like each measure to have four beats, set the beats/bar to 4. Now you have a 4/4 time signature.
  • Set the metronome to an appropriate volume that you can practice with. Make sure that this is a volume that doesn’t get drowned out by the music, but also doesn’t overwhelm you.
  • It’s very important to choose a slow tempo to practice with first.
  • Internalize the metronome’s beat within your body before playing – tap along with the beat, count the beat out loud, say the rhythm of your musical phrase to the beat.
  • Focus on the most difficult spots, only a few measures at a time, before trying larger sections.
  • When you feel really confident in your playing at a slower tempo, speed up the beat.
  • Lastly, test your knowledge of the piece by practicing it from start to finish with the metronome!

We hope you’ve had fun learning more about metronomes! Now you are ready to practice with your new piano metronome. Remember to show off your skills to your friends and family, because music is meant to be shared with the people you care about. Happy playing!

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