When two or more musicians are performing together they are immediately bound together by one basic element: rhythm. The metronome is a mechanical or digital time-keeping device, it was patented by Johann Maelzel in 1815 as a tool for musicians. The metronome is used to set the tempo of the music they are rehearsing; much like a clock, it provides a steadyrhythmic click, which helps keep player or players “in time.” If you have a desire to play well ( any instrument, any style ) the use of a metronome is critical but why is a Metronome so important?
A metronome is the tool by which you learn to control the time element of your performance. Good rhythm and tempo are essential for any duo, ensemble, band, or orchestra to play together. Musicianship is about developing control over all aspects of music. Did you ever stop and think about the fact that it is just as "wrong" to play the right note at the wrong time as it is to play the wrong note at the right time? Without a metronome you might be playing at a steady tempo or you might not, but with a good metronome you can quickly determine if you are playing accurately. Timing is a biggie.
One advantage of using a metronome that many people take for granted is that it forces you to listen more carefully, and it also demands that you listen to something other than yourself, thus increasing your awareness of music. Many beginner students will change their tempos by slowing down when the music is difficult and by speeding up when it is easy. As a result of this bad practice habit, they are not aware of which musical passages are difficult. They simply slow down at those points. By practicing with a metronome, it becomes clear what sections of the music are hard, because the metronome does not change tempo. The metronome can also help you practice much more efficiently. You can use it to gradually speed up the tempo of pieces that you are working on. Instead of just guessing how fast you should play, you can use the metronome to start at a slow tempo and gradually speed up.
There are many good things that come from practicing with a metronome and you absolutely NEED to own one if you want to become the best musician you can be!
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