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
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.