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Metronomes - good or bad?
#2384901 02/11/15 11:32 AM
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Hi

My digital piano has an inbuilt metronome which I am just starting to get in to the habit of using. I find when counting in my head, my counting is uneven or I confuse myself by counting the number of notes instead of beats when the timing gets more complex. The metronome is really helping me to resolve this but I was wondering is it bad to rely on the metronome rather than counting? Should I avoid using it too much?

Any thoughts?

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Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2384911 02/11/15 12:08 PM
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I think the metronome is unmissable. Use it to learn to hear and feel the beat.
Also keep counting aloud along with the metronome.
When you feel the pulse, turn it off and play without.

Also it can help you build up speed. Put it up a notch every time you feel comfortable at the current tempo.


Paul

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Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2384914 02/11/15 12:13 PM
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chopinoholic is absolutely correct. For myself, if I count 1 -2 - 3 - 4 and do my best to keep time, I often find the actual time varies. So I play 'on the beat' but my counting somehow accommodates the varying speed of my playing smile - the metronome fixes that little problem.


No real talent for the Piano.
Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
pspicer #2384926 02/11/15 12:41 PM
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I completely agree with the above. The metronome keeps you honest and helps to develop internal pulse. It is important to count as well, and not just rely on the metronome. Counting out loud in areas with tricky rhythm with the metronome clicking is good training I think.

I use it to:

1. Assure correct rhythm in tricky parts.
2. Enforce ultra slow, steady practice.
3. Increase the tempo gradually on a learned piece.

Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2385059 02/11/15 06:08 PM
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I've played drums on and off for about 40 years and had to make peace with playing to a click back in the 80's. I'm a big proponent and use a metronome often exactly for the 3 reasons above (SwissMS). I have a metronome that will accent the first beat of a bar from none to 9/4. It will also do subdivisions like 8th notes a 60 instead of having to put the metronome at 120 but it won't subdivide AND mark the one of a measure at the same time. What I like about the time signature feature is that it tells when you've dropped or added a count during a tricky measure or as my wife likes to do, drop a count during long rests or tied notes.

Kurt


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Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2385110 02/11/15 09:43 PM
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I think the metronome is a great accessory for all the reasons above. I find it particularly useful though when I have learned the notes of a piece and need to secure parts of the piece where I tend to stumble.


Following Trying to follow the Ling Ling 40 hour method

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


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Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2385138 02/11/15 11:45 PM
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I have one sitting on my piano where it has reposed for some thirty years. Originally I believe it was devised more as a way to record the composer's own choice of tempi rather than as the straitjacket it has become today. For the record Beethoven loved it ... and recorded his chosen values very asiduously. But Brahms loathed it.

I rarely use it for my students. It is unnecessary if you can get them to recognize a beat by simply slapping their thighs. I believe that pulse is as natural as our heart beat. And there is nothing so frustrating as trying to "keep up with" this relentlessly beating instrument of torture. The student fumbles for a note and the metronome merrily ignores his situation.

The most important element in beat is the time signature ... that fact that the first beat of each bar is a strong one. In 3/4 time the next two beats will be softer. In 4/4 the first is strong , the second weak, the third medium and the fourth weak. Most metronomes don't accomodate this most important element in music. But when a student taps out a rhythm on his knee, he is easily taught to stress that first beat of each bar.

I have never had a student who had problems with counting and the beat, once he understood and "felt" it. On the other hand I accompanied an opera singer once who so completely ignored that pulse that it was impossible to follow him. The accents were on the wrong part of the measure and it was agony to guess what was coming next. blush

For a very detailed explanation of beats and time signatures visit my happypianoprofessor link below. The article is entitled " Metronome ... Yes or No?"


Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
TheHappyPianoMuse #2385271 02/12/15 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by TheHappyPianoMuse
And there is nothing so frustrating as trying to "keep up with" this relentlessly beating instrument of torture.
. smile


No real talent for the Piano.
Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
pspicer #2385282 02/12/15 12:36 PM
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The metronome is relentless and unnatural when playing along to, particularly in a band, like in an automatic rhythm unit which used to be so popular at one time.

But they are superb for setting the timing in the first place. I play classical too slow, and rock too fast . . . my Good Lady pointed this out to me!

Playing with a good, steady drummer is a real education and so unlike using a rhythm device. But it`s always going to be good discipline to try it out once in a while to remind oneself that one isn`t perfect . . .yet . .


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2390940 02/25/15 06:41 PM
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Hi Microdot,

This is a good question. I guess it depends on how serious you want to be as a musician. The metronome can stop many people from playing so if this is the case forget about it and just play, enjoy the piano smile

For my more advance students I always get them to count aloud. NOT is their head, as our brains can play tricks on us, confuse us like you say in your blog. I suggest trying this. What I tell my students to do is look for the most complex rhythm in the piece ie. 1/8th, 16th note then I tell them to count aloud: 1&2&3&4& for 1/8 notes or !e&a,2e&a, etc for 16th notes depending on the song as they play the piece. I'm a big believer that if you can't clap it you can't play it. I often get them to hand clap the rhythm of the RH or LH of the piece while counting 1&2&3&4& aloud before they touch the piano. This really helps them understand the piece.

Is is bad to rely on the metronome? No it's not when you are practicing. But what happens if you are performing solo piano? We can't have that metronome going on and if you need it to keep in time your timing is going to go crazy as you are not used to playing without it. So I suggest counting ALOUD with the metronome like I mentioned above 1&,2& or 1e&a,2e&a etc while you are learning and practicing the piece.Then turn off the metronome and continue counting aloud relying on you own time feel. If you do this enough your time feel will improve and you will begin to trust your own time. Let your counting aloud become your metronome.

A way to test your timing is to turn on the metronome get your tempo as required then turn it off. Count yourself in right away and play piece, count aloud all through the piece, then once finished turn metronome on again. Were you in front, behind or on the beat tempo wise?

Should I avoid using it too much? No. I've been playing for 25 years now and I'm still using the metronome.

So do both, count aloud when practicing (whisper under you breath when you are performing so it can't be heard) and use the metronome.

Hope this helps.

Take it easy

Greg

www.greglloydacademy.com

Last edited by Greg Lloyd; 02/25/15 07:02 PM.

Email - greg@greglloydmusicschool.com

Website - greglloydmusicschool.com
Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2390956 02/25/15 07:07 PM
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Metronomes are good for learning to keep time in a piece of music you are learning. It also helps with memorizing. Remember memorizing the multiplication tables? We recited these with a very definite rhythmic pulse "2 x 2 = 4, 2 x 5 = 10, ...". That helped us memorize them. When we speak, we have very definite rhythm to our words. If we didn't, others would find it hard to understand us. If somebody asks us for a phone number and we respond with our normal speaking rhythm with "123-456-7890", the person will easily understand. However, if we insert uneven and varying length pauses, the person will not get it probably even after several repeats: "1 234 5 6 7 8 90".

A metronome will drill the music into our hands and head. The metronome is also good for gradually increasing the tempo in a measured pace until we get whatever we are playing up to speed.

As David Sudnow used to say, "always practice on time, perfectly". Never make mistakes and you won't be teaching your hands how to make mistakes. He said it is the hardest thing to do, especially in a culture that looks for immediate gratification, and taking the kind of care to not make mistakes and arrive at the next place in the music at the right time (not doing so is considered as much a mistake as playing a wrong note), is a very "Zen-like" activity of total concentration in the moment.

On the other hand, he also said not to use a metronome because everyone's body has a natural rhythm, despite those racial stereotypes about certain ethnic groups not having rhythm, just as very, very few are actually "tone deaf" (a medical condition) despite stories to the contrary.

So, there seems to be agreement that playing on time is important, but whether to use a metronome or not seems to be up to individual choice.

Tony



Roland V-Grand
Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2390968 02/25/15 07:52 PM
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It depends on what you need and want to do with music.

Record yourself and listen to it. If you have tempo and rhythm problems, work heavily with the metronome. If not, give it a try once in a while if you feel like it.

One very special case is playing for motion picture and TV sound tracks. The Local 47 people who do that (alas far fewer now than in the past) have to be able to play to a click track in headphones.



-- J.S.

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Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2390974 02/25/15 08:19 PM
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I think it's important as a tool, but it's not the only tool. Rhythm is something which becomes more or less natural, but to ensure that our sense of rhythm is reasonably correct in the first place, the metronome won't tell lies.

When playing with others (preparing for a duet, 2 piano or with a band etc) its good for each person to be able to play along with the metronome sometimes in practice - that way, when they come together, it should blend fairly easily. I did a lot of accompanying of violin etc students in years back, and the teacher would set a tempo which both of us would practice at - that way, rehearsal went much better.

When starting a piece, I rarely use it, once I have it almost right, I'll put it on to ensure that I've not got some problem like inadvertently slowing (for a difficult section) or speeding.

It is also a tool for trying to perfect a difficult passage - take a small section, put it to a VERY slow metronome, separate hands if necessary, and when you can play that OK, speed it up gradually.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2390993 02/25/15 09:19 PM
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Good! wink


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Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2391193 02/26/15 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Microdot
Hi

My digital piano has an inbuilt metronome which I am just starting to get in to the habit of using. I find when counting in my head, my counting is uneven or I confuse myself by counting the number of notes instead of beats when the timing gets more complex. The metronome is really helping me to resolve this but I was wondering is it bad to rely on the metronome rather than counting? Should I avoid using it too much?

Any thoughts?


Well, it is not crucial at the beginning. Rather at the end when you want to perfect your piece. If you take to learn a piece in stages, you probably start to look for different things, such as key signature and its transitions, time signature and its changes, notes, fingering, tempo dynamics and rhythms. Before you want to master a piece, you probably want to understand all this. And then a Metronome is very important and probably the best in perfecting the piece smile That's my opinion!


Zbigniew

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Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2391421 02/26/15 09:06 PM
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The metronome is one of the tools at your disposal. Knowing when to use it -- that's why we have teachers.

Here's one example where, when _learning_ something, a metronome is extremely valuable:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/galleries/2391418.html#Post2391418

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. Charles

PS -- my first "image insert" -- pray . . .

Last edited by Charles Cohen; 02/26/15 09:09 PM.

. Charles
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Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2391425 02/26/15 09:21 PM
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It's just a tool, like a hammer or a drill or a kitchen mixer. It serves its purpose when used well and correctly. Used incorrectly it can be useless, annoying or harmful.


Learner
Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
malkin #2391441 02/26/15 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
It's just a tool, like a hammer or a drill or a kitchen mixer. It serves its purpose when used well and correctly. Used incorrectly it can be useless, annoying or harmful.


A good, solidly built metronome can probably serve as a hammer very well, not to mention a tool for expressing frustration or even self-defense, but not much help in the kitchen. smirk

Tony


Roland V-Grand
Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Celdor #2391463 02/26/15 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by ZikO

Well, it is not crucial at the beginning. Rather at the end when you want to perfect your piece. If you take to learn a piece in stages, you probably start to look for different things, such as key signature and its transitions, time signature and its changes, notes, fingering, tempo dynamics and rhythms. Before you want to master a piece, you probably want to understand all this. And then a Metronome is very important and probably the best in perfecting the piece smile That's my opinion!


This advice is backwards.

The "timing" and rhythm or a piece or phrase is just a much a learned thing as is the notes and fingering. They are not a separate thing, but rather are all part of the "learning package" of the music.

Therefore, if you have learned an erratic rhythm in the beginning, that is an error that needs to be fixed. Fixing it later, after everything else is learned, and is practiced a zillion times, is much much harder than fixing it in the beginning while learning the notes and fingering.

Better advice: Work on and fix the rhythm issues as soon as possible while learning the piece or phrase, rather than later, when it is much more ingrained.

This can best be accomplished by going extremely s-l-o-w. (slower than you can imagine!!) Super-Slow. Super-Super-Slow... That is how the human brain learns, BTW...very very slowly, one small piece at a time...its like chewing food...one bite at a time. Very hard concept to learn at the piano, unfortunately! Everybody goes too fast. Much too fast.


Piano teacher.
Re: Metronomes - good or bad?
Microdot #2391494 02/27/15 03:09 AM
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I will sometimes use the metronome for scales, because I am quite bad at them so it a. makes me acknowledge my mistakes and b. makes me control speed, eg slow for control and then gradually speeding up. Whereas my inclination is to go fast to get it over with and ignore the problems.

I rarely use it for pieces and how I use it depends on the reason. If I am curious about the intended tempo of something I haven't really heard, I will use it often towards the end of learning, and then probably ignore it anyway because I play for fun. If I am learning something to accompany a choir (I am only understudy pianist because there is a better one, but I learn the pieces in case he gets ill and for the practice) then I will introduce the metronome very early, and practice to it a lot because the conductor and young children wont be stopping for me.

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