Tips from the Teacher
So, your student comes home from lessons and says that he needs to practice with a metronome this week. "Oh boy," you think, "What's a metronome, how much does it cost, and what is he supposed to do with it?". Don't panic! I've got you covered!
What is a metronome?
A metronome is a tool that keeps a steady beat. Musicians practice with a metronome to help them keep their music at a steady tempo or work up to a certain tempo (more on that soon).
For a long time, they used to look like this:
Then they looked like this:
And now, they usually look like this:
Luckily for us, they now cost next-to-nothing and many of the apps are free!
My favorite metronome app is Tonal Energy. It costs $3.99 and its AMAZING!
How does one practice with a metronome?
If a musician wants to keep her music at a steady tempo, the process is very simple! All she has to do is choose at how many bpm (beats per minute) she wants to perform, set the metronome for that number, and then play it through several times with the sound of the metronome guiding her.
The process is also simple if a musician wants to get their music up to a faster tempo. Here are the steps:
1. Set the metronome to just a little bit slower than you can play it comfortably. For example, at 60 bpm. Play the passage through until you can play it 3x in a row without mistakes.
2. Now, increase the tempo on the metronome by 5 bpm, so in our example, set the metronome to 65 bpm. Once again at this tempo, practice the passage until you can do it 3x without mistakes.
3. Now repeat step 2 until you reach your desired tempo, for example 90 bpm, always increasing the bpm by 5 each time.
This may seem tedious, but it really isn't that tedious. And let me tell you- this method gets RESULTS! After all, the saying goes:
"Don't practice until you get something right; practice until you can't get something wrong."
So, busy parent, I hope this puts your mind at ease and informs how you help your student to practice. And here's my best tip: students shouldn't wait for their teacher to tell them to practice with a metronome. Students should get into the habit of practicing with the metronome regularly.
Aaaaand like all things regarding practicing, if you treat practicing with the metronome as something fun your student gets to do, chances are that your student will be excited to do so!