Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Practice With a Metronome

Learn how to use the metronome to improve your music playing

In this video, Robert talks about using the metronome during practice. What are its actual benefits?

Released on January 19, 2022

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, Robert Estrin here with a very important video. It's amazing that I've never made a video on how to practice with a metronome. The metronome is one of the most valuable tools in your practice. The metronome is perhaps the most valuable tool after the instrument you're playing on. Of course, a recorder is also a wonderful device, being able to hear what you sound like. But the metronome is something that should be on your piano, whenever you practice to check your work and to work out passages.

So for example, let's see you're working on the famous Alla Turca movement of the Mozart Sonata and you get to the F-Sharp Minor section that has all that finger work. And maybe it isn't jelling for you in this section over here.

Now what some people might think you want to do is go through the whole piece with the metronome, and there is a place for that. To check your tempo, the consistency of your tempo throughout a movement it's important to make sure you're not speeding up or slowing down. But what I'm going to show you today is a valuable tool that the metronome provides in being able to take a passage like this, and let's say you aren't happy with it. It's not as even as you would like, and you wonder what could you do about that? Well you find a speed that you can play it really beautifully and perfectly evenly, and you find that speed in your metronome. By the way, that's not always the easiest thing to do.

So let's see you first, you play and you find a speed you're comfortable with, you could actually just take that much and work it up. Taking too large a section to do progressive metronome speeds can sometimes be counterproductive. So if you work on smaller sections and then string the sections together later you might have more success.

Not only that, but maybe that section you could already play pretty fast. But maybe this one, maybe you can't play that one as fast. So it's kind of unnecessary to work all those metronome speeds on both passages or it might be the reverse. So finding the speed you're playing, right-a da da de da da da da da da, finding that speed can be hard.

Now there are metronome programs like the one I'm using here where you just simply tap in the tempo...and there it is and that's a real help. If you don't have that technology, what you want to do is just start tapping, da da de da da da, and then put the metronome on whatever speed it is and try to match that speed and then try to make sure that it's comfortable for you. The most important thing in is the first time you play the passage make sure that you can play it perfectly. You might have to do a few tries to get it, but if you can't play it absolutely perfectly and repeatably then you're not ready to go any faster. So find that speed first.

The first time you do this, you're going to find it really is hard to play perfectly at any tempo. But here's the key, spend the time on that front end. Cementing it, absolutely perfectly as evenly as you can play. And if you find you can't do it, then slow the metronome down further until you find a tempo. Then you can play without feeling that you're getting off from the metronome, that it's rock solid, steady, and repeatable. You should be able to get it at least three times in a row, perfectly more than that. It should not only sound perfect, it should feel comfortable. Then once you have it at one speed. Now if you have an actual physical metronome it actually has one benefit that digital metronomes, at least I haven't found an app yet that does this. And if any of you have found an app, because there's so many metronome applications for mobile devices that it's really tough to know if any of them have the actual speeds that are on a physical metronome. Physical metronomes for example go 60, 63, 66, 69, 72, 76, 80, et cetera, et cetera.

More than that if you add twice the speed, 60 to 63, if you were at 120, the next notch of metronome is 126. It doesn't go up by three up there, so the progression of speeds on a metronome is calculated correctly. You don't want to go from, for example 69 to 70 to 71, it's infinitesimally small, but one notch in the metronome or maybe two notches at most provides just the right amount of challenge to speed up a passage. So once you can play it successfully and repeatably and comfortably at one slow speed, go to the next notch on the metronome. So if you're at 60, then you do it at 63. Try to achieve a comfortable comfort and perfection at 63, you may only have to play it once and feel that's perfect and keep going notch by notch. But anytime you have any issues where it doesn't feel right or doesn't sound right, keep doing an event metronome speed.

This is one of the greatest practice techniques you can ever imagine for developing speed, fluency and evenness in your piano playing. So I really recommend doing metronome speeds on a regular basis with anything in your music that isn't up to a high standard. If you feel that there's some passage work or any sections of your music that aren't even, or aren't reliable, finest speed that you can play it perfectly and repeatably and comfortably and go through metronome notch by notch and you can solve almost any technical problem this way. Try it out, let me know how it works for you. You can leave comments here at LivingPianos.com or on YouTube. Thanks for the suggestions for future videos, ring the bell if you want to be notified of future videos, all of you subscribers out there. Thank you. We'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Richard on June 1, 2022 @3:24 pm PST
Almost impossible for me to set my Kawai digital metronome to 'my' speed. I also have a couple of digitals, same thing. I would love some suggestions for an app that sets a speed based on my clapping to it?! Thank you!!!
reply
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 1, 2022 @5:02 pm PST
Well, with our online metronome you can just "tap" your tempo and it'll catch it up:

https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/metronome/

Please, give it a try and let me know if that works for you.
Meera on April 27, 2022 @3:39 pm PST
I use an app called Soundcorset tuner and Metronome. So far it has worked well.
reply
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on April 27, 2022 @3:47 pm PST
That's great to know. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.
Richard on June 2, 2022 @7:39 am PST
I looked at Soundcorset. The only way to set it that i could see is by putting in a number for BPM. Not what I am looking for. Otherwise, nice app, thanks!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 2, 2022 @7:43 am PST
Richard, try our online metronome, maybe it has what you are looking for and you can use it with ay browser and device:

https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/metronome/
Richard on June 2, 2022 @8:02 am PST
Yes, that is EXACTLY what I have been looking for! Thank you!! Super-easy to "add to homescreen" on iphone as well!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 2, 2022 @8:11 am PST
Fantastic! I am so glad to know that! Please, if you see anything to do to improve our metronome eve further, please, let me know!

All the best,
Carol Laux * VSM MEMBER * on January 20, 2022 @6:44 am PST
Thank you. Very helpful

ROBERT'S REFERENCES

VSM Free Metronome
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Free Online Metronome by Virtual Sheet Music®
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