My music teacher used to say, “The right note played at the wrong time is the wrong note.” Did you know that there’s a little device that can help with your timing? It’s called a metronome! I’m Hoffman Academy teacher Matt Sazima. In today’s episode of Music Notes, I’m going to teach you how to practice with a metronome to play those right notes at the right time.
Start by Learning the Notes
If you’re working on a piece of music you probably start by learning the notes first. You’ve made note of the time signature and the key signature, and you’ve got an idea of the rhythm. Once you are fairly comfortable with the where the notes fall on your instrument, it’s time to make sure your timing is locked in. Start with a piece of music you’re already comfortable with. This means you should know the notes, which fingers you will use, and know the rhythm of the piece or section.
Setting Your Time and Tempo
Now it’s time grab your metronome. If you don’t have one, here are some recommendations from Mr. Hoffman. Set your time signature, if it’s an option on your metronome. I’m going to practice in 4/4 time. Pick your tempo. A moderate tempo like 70 beats per minute is a good place to start. If you’re new to the metronome and start too slow it can be difficult to get locked in with the beat. If you start too fast, you might not be able to keep up and your technique may suffer. In the video above, I’m going to demonstrate playing the C Major scale. In this case, each note I’m playing is a quarter note, and each beat on the metronome is a quarter note. As I play, every note lines up with a click of the metronome – at least it should, if I’m playing in time. After you get comfortable with a piece, you can increase the tempo. If you feel comfortable at 70 beats per minute, you can raise it to 74 beats per minute. Make sure as you increase your speed that you stay focused on good technique.
Spend Some Time with Your Metronome
You can make huge improvements in your playing if you take the time to practice with a metronome. Just like learning an instrument, learning to use the metronome takes some time, so be patient and keep at it.