Using a metronome for your practice.

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Crofty
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Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Crofty » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:57 pm

Probably been discussed a lot but I thought I'd carry the discussion over from Ortega's recent thread which received quite a lot of advice for him to use one and some saying that they are - how to put this mildly? - not really necessary.

Anyway, I use them regularly, I think of them partly as the equivalent of a stop-watch for athletes, or a measuring stick for the high jump, or [please continue with your very own analogies...] but also, of course, a basic system to make you really conscious of beats, metre, subdivisions etc.

When I had a space, teaching in schools, I used to challenge pupils who said they couldn't "feel" the beat to walk from one wall to the other UN-rhythmically. It is very difficult to do.

So yes, we all have an innate sense of pulse. But playing a complex musical instrument adds many layers of difficulty between what is natural in us all and the concentration required by musicians to be 100% accurate. And yet, ironically, the slower you practise, in order to be able to hear, feel and achieve everything, the more difficult it becomes to stay focused on the pulse.

Used intelligently the metronome helps you to know your current speed limits, and work to extend them, but also to devise methods by which you can practice smaller, difficult sections using sub-divisions of the pulse as your metronome speed as preliminary targets.

For myself, I generally find that the shift from eventually being able to play something very slowly - but totally comfortably and accurately, however long this may take - to the correct, faster tempo, is almost instantaneous. Yes, I could now do that without a metronome but I still like the external discipline that it offers.

Paul

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Christopher Langley
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Christopher Langley » Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:24 pm

The metro is great because you can lean on it rhythmically, which means one less thing to think about when trying to master a difficult phrase.

Can also be great when trying to get something faster.

Invaluable tool for me. I did not always feel this way. It took me some time to grow to love it.

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Tom Poore
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Tom Poore » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:22 pm

The single best reason to use a metronome is this: it forces us listen. If in the solitude of our practice room we never use a metronome, then we’re locked inside our own heads. We attend to nothing other than our own sense of the beat. If our sense happens to be infallible, then all is dandy. But what if it isn’t? Absent the metronome, we reinforce our flawed sense of the beat. Our incompetence is continuously repeated until it’s hard-wired. And so when we finally leave the practice room and sit in with musicians who can keep a beat, we’re lost.

By the way, the notion that using a metronome turns us into drones who can’t play flexibly is twaddle. The metronome is a tool, not a proscription. A good musician will use it creatively. A bad musician will use it rigidly. It’s a poor workman who blames his tools.

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Crofty
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Crofty » Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:49 pm

Tom

I'll tell Mark next time I see him....

Paul

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Erik Zurcher » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:24 pm

Tom Poore wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:22 pm
...Absent the metronome, we reinforce our flawed sense of the beat. Our incompetence is continuously repeated until it’s hard-wired. And so when we finally leave the practice room and sit in with musicians who can keep a beat, we’re lost...
Good point!
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Tonit
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Tonit » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:21 pm

In my case a metronome is an indispensable and the handiest accompaniment to practice. Tuner and metronome apps are almost always installed on my devices historically, while I also have a few physical ones that I have seldom used since my first smartphone.

TempoPerfect installed on a PC has been my workhorse metronome. I use it with the Omega Speedmaster Professional ticking sound and vintage wooden Wittner sound extracted from YT vids. This is because most of the default metronome ticks are too bassy with standard audio systems. There is also installed an arguable flamenco palos metronome that I use occasionally.

For classical/flamenco I chiefly use it to benchmark various techniques as I set S.M.A.R.T. goals, so it chiefly addresses "Measurable" thereof, to measure:
- Accuracy in slower tempo;
- Endurance and loudness in low-mid tempo;
- Practical threshold with limited endurance and loudness in high-mid tempo; and
- The fastest tempo where I mostly fall apart but sometimes successful.
I also use DAW software to analyze and practice accelando ritardando and other tempo related variations (how fast I should vibrato etc.) to make it clearer to myself how I go about them, because this is one of the key areas I want to improve.

For Jazz/Pop my metronomes are more creatively used, mainly to enhance sense of groove, polyrhythm and pulse.

Leonie Kaye
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Leonie Kaye » Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:04 am

I use a metronome to keep me aware of the speed i am playing which is almost always too slow...i just go off in a dream....a reality check for me.....

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:30 am

Crofty wrote:Tom, I'll tell Mark next time I see him....
Paul
No need Paul - I always follow Tom's posts with interest. I'm reading the thread, simply refraining from useless argument. I leave the door open - if I read something new that makes me think again I'll comment.

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Adrian Allan » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:53 am

Tom Poore wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:22 pm
The single best reason to use a metronome is this: it forces us listen. If in the solitude of our practice room we never use a metronome, then we’re locked inside our own heads. We attend to nothing other than our own sense of the beat. If our sense happens to be infallible, then all is dandy. But what if it isn’t? Absent the metronome, we reinforce our flawed sense of the beat. Our incompetence is continuously repeated until it’s hard-wired. And so when we finally leave the practice room and sit in with musicians who can keep a beat, we’re lost.

By the way, the notion that using a metronome turns us into drones who can’t play flexibly is twaddle. The metronome is a tool, not a proscription. A good musician will use it creatively. A bad musician will use it rigidly. It’s a poor workman who blames his tools.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA
A proscription?
Who is banning what?
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by closet guitarist » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:14 am

A beat, whether using a metronome or not, gives structure but, to me, what often gets lost is the space between the beats. That's where the music in its many interpretative variables exists. That said, varying the beat can be used for emotional manipulation too.

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Tom Poore
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Tom Poore » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:40 am

Adrian Allan wrote:A proscription?
Who is banning what?
Don’t ask me. I’m not the one implying that those who practice with a metronome can’t do rubato.
Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:I'm reading the thread, simply refraining from useless argument. I leave the door open—if I read something new that makes me think again I'll comment.
A not so far-fetched hypothetical: You’re a teacher, and you’re faced with a student who can’t keep a beat to save his life. At some point, would you have him practice with a metronome?

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
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Jorge Oliveira
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Jorge Oliveira » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:20 am

I started using a metronome only around two years ago and, presently, if I'm not able to play a piece under the discipline of a metronome I do not consider that I've learned it. You see, I'm a poor sight reader so I memorize the scores. Once a piece is memorized, I use a metronome (the Tempo app in my iPhone) to, firstly, play it observing the correct note values and, secondly, slowly increase the tempo so as to attain the prescribed speed. After that I no longer use the metronome.
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Crofty
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Crofty » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:52 am

Tom Poore wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:40 am

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:I'm reading the thread, simply refraining from useless argument. I leave the door open—if I read something new that makes me think again I'll comment.
A not so far-fetched hypothetical: You’re a teacher, and you’re faced with a student who can’t keep a beat to save his life. At some point, would you have him practice with a metronome?

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA
A much more basic question is what does ANY musician do when confronted by a score - especially one authorised by a living composer - with an mm marking of, say 76 bpm?

Have a guess?

Check it briefly and then try to internalise that tempo without ever deigning to play the piece to an easily available and consistent beat?

Ultimately it's just a tool - like a capo - with no hidden agenda.

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:23 pm

Tom Poore wrote:
Mark wrote:I'm reading the thread, simply refraining from useless argument. I leave the door open—if I read something new that makes me think again I'll comment.
A not so far-fetched hypothetical: You’re a teacher, and you’re faced with a student who can’t keep a beat to save his life. At some point, would you have him practice with a metronome?
Short answer - no.

During decades of teaching I have not once found the need to resort to the metronome. I use dance, ball bouncing, clapping games, rhythmic poetry, chanting, word chains, conducting, imitative rhythms etc., etc.

Yes, I do own a machine ... it would be stupid to rule out the possibility that someone, somewhere, having failed to acquire the necessary skill through any of the means above may somehow be miraculously enlightened through the use of a mechanical device - I have yet to meet such a creature.

Just answering the question (which I assume was directed at me) - not entering into debate regarding anyone else's use.

Crofty
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Re: Using a metronome for your practice.

Post by Crofty » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:28 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:23 pm


During decades of teaching I have not once found the need to resort to the metronome. I use dance, ball bouncing, clapping games, rhythmic poetry, chanting, word chains, conducting, imitative rhythms etc., etc.
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