If you have taken guitar lessons before, your teacher might have recommended you use a metronome for practicing. Using a metronome has two major purposes:
You will learn to play with a constant speed. If you never use a metronome you might find that your playing has a lot of speed fluctuations and you will not be able to start in time if there is a break in the music. In other words your playing will sound sloppy.
If it is one of your goals to play in a band, having good timing is absolutely critical. Even if you just want to accompany some friends or family members while they sing you will find it is hard to sing along with your chords if you have a bad timing. Everyone will have a much better time playing or singing along to your playing if you have solid timing, enabling them to sing along with ease.
If you want to play along your favorite CD and have your playing match the record you will get much better results if you practice with a metronome. You may be able to play the different pitches and chords pretty well in isolation, but if you want to accompany the original track, you will find out pretty fast that some parts are not rhythmically correct unless you consistently work on your timing with a metronome.
Another advantage of using a metronome is that it makes it easier to track your progress. This has two major benefits:
On the one hand, it is very motivating when you can see how you are progressing over time. Especially in times wh
en things aren't working out that good and you feel like you aren't getting anywhere. It is motivating to see it in actual numbers on paper that you are in fact getting better in some areas.
On the other hand, you will see where your skills are developing pretty well and which areas are lagging behind or are stagnating and need your attention right now.
By now you should have a pretty good idea what a metronome is good for. I will show you how to use the metronome best:
If you are practicing your timing (meaning: to play with consistent speed), the individual “clicks” should be your basic beat. The basic beat of a 4/4 measure is equivalent to the quarter notes. That's why the symbol for the tempo you can see in the example below is a quarter note. So you are basically playing one quarter note per click:
If you are playing eighth notes, you hit two notes per click accordingly, because eighth notes are twice as fast compared to quarter notes:
Why You Should Use A Metronome
The same principle can be applied to any rhythm. But keep in mind not to use the metronome all the time while practicing. While the metronome is a valuable tool for practicing timing, it will distract you from focusing on other aspects of your playing, if you attempt to focus on the timing simultaneously. If you are learning new techniques or pieces, you should at first be able to play them cleanly by itself, before going into practicing your timing.
I hope you found value in this article and I wish you a lot of success, when practicing with the metronome!
This article was written by Marco von Baumbach, guitar teacher in Wuppertal, Germany.
If you are interested in the author, check out his website about Gitarrenunterricht in Wuppertal
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