using a metronome : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

My wife was taking piano lessons. She is still practicing and will take more lessons when she feels she has improved. I got her a metronome to help with her practice. The problem she is having is how does she know what speed the metronome needs to be set. None of her practice books have any notations that we can see for the rhythm speed of the piece.

-- Jim Rowland (, June 24, 2002


Hi Jim and Mrs. Jim,

The right speed for any piece is always a result of the state of the player's technique, the action of the piano, the acoustics of the room. As a very general rule, find out how fast your technique allows you to play the fastest notes of the piece, and then use that speed as a guide for the rest of the piece, being sure to take into account the musical nature of the piece (is it a quiet/slow piece? humorous? a waltz?). A good teacher can help you determine the best speed for you. As you become more advanced, more pieces come with metronome markings.

Another reason to work with a teacher is to learn how to use the metronome. There is a lot more to it than just playing one note with every click (helpful occasionally, but a very elementary stage of playing with the metronome).

The greatest difficulty for many learners is that while the metronome is regular (metrical, or measuring), it is not rhythmical. In order to have rhythm, one must have direction--a destination. While a good drummer creates direction with up and down beats, or rhythmical clapping has lighter and heavier claps with a sense of going forward, the metronome has no direction: it is absolutely mechanically even. Also one must learn that there are notes that go and notes that arrive. The arrivals are the beats, and the notes before the beats go in a way that "creates" the beats. Resist the temptation to begin the beat at the same time as the metronome: beats are arrivals, not beginnings. Instead, practice playing the notes before the beat in such a way that you arrive at the beat at the same time as the metronome.

If in your mind you can imagine that your metronome has all the characteristics of a good drummer and you play along musically with that drummer, then you will at least avoid the pitfall of the kind of mechanical playing that metronome misuse produces. Don't worry about playing at a particular speed; just find a speed where you can make it musical, and play often without the metronome as well.

-- Alan (, June 26, 2002.

Use the metronome to set your tempo at the start of a practice only. over using the metronome during playing will result in mechanical playing, you will lose your sense of time telling, and your mind will go, in otherwords, incompetent

-- Donnie Robinson (, May 07, 2003.

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