Practicing with a Metronome

To improve my timing and tempo as I continue to learn some simple tunes, I want to incorporate the use of a metronome in my practice sessions. I tried this for the first time yesterday. I didn’t do so well.

A metronome is a device that produces an audible beat at a regular interval. The metronome can be set by the user to the beats per minute which indicates the tempo of a tune, the speed at which the tune is to be played. A metronome, especially for a beginner, helps to improve and internalize a clear sense of timing and to stick to the tempo of a tune. When learning a tune, it is best to start with a slow tempo (slower beats) and work up to the correct tempo as the tune is better learned.

With that said, I found it difficult to use a metronome on my first try. I am practicing Ode to Joy, and even though I know all the notes and fingering, at first I set the metronome much too fast to keep up and sound decent. So, I slowed it down. I also had a problem hearing the metronome, but when I turned up the volume, I tended to concentrate more on the metronome than my playing. So, I had to go back to the drawing board and find some help about using a metronome.

When I Googled playing fiddle with metronome, one of the fist videos to come up was Jason from Fiddlehed with a lesson on how to use the metronome in during practice. He said to get used to and start using a metronome to begin by simply clapping simple rhythms with a metronome. Next, try playing something simple on the fiddle: open strings, and then scales. Finally, try looping small pieces of a tune with the metronome before doing a whole tune with the metronome.

How to Use A Metronome – Practice Technique

  • Part One: Clapping
    • quarter, half, eighth notes
    • patterns: tucka, hoedown, triplets
    • start at 80-100 bpm
  • Part Two: Fiddling
    • do all of the above on the fiddle.
    • then try on a 1 octave D scale
  • Part Three: Tunes
    • try to play very simple tunes with the metronome
    • start by looping one small part
    • bile em cabbage
    • twinkle little star
    • oh susannah
    • wabash cannonball

I found this lesson very helpful in learning how to use a metronome effectively. Unfortunately, it was late at night so I could only watch it with the volume turned down. Today, I will watch it again and start putting it into action. Like everything I am learning with my fiddle for the first time, the key is to start off slowly!

Choosing a Metronome

Metronome

Rather than buy one, I found many free online metronomes. The one that has the truest metronome sound is on a site called BestMetronome.com. They have several metronomes available, but this is the simplest to use. There are presets from 40 to 200 BPM. Above the presets is a simple arrow indicator for setting the metronome between the presets in one BPM increments. Once the BPM is set, a simple tap on the keyboard space bar starts the metronome. Another tap stops it.

  2 comments for “Practicing with a Metronome

  1. March 7, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Thankfully, the online tunes and CDs that came with my lesson books have built in counting or a metronome feature (one even lets me turn it on and off as I need). It’s super useful! But once I move into different media, it’ll be good to have one of my own. Thanks for the link!

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