Articles, Blog

How to Practice Piano With a Metronome to Improve Your Rhythm

September 21, 2019

– Okay, students, today
I’m gonna tell you how to use the metronome to
improve your piano pieces. A metronome is, will help you keep time by beeping or clicking
at regular intervals. So it’s either a device,
or you can actually, I’m gonna show you how to
get one online for free. There’s actually numerous of those. And is a source of grief
for many piano players, but it is actually very helpful. I promise, I wouldn’t lie to you. You might think that I’m gonna lie to you about this one because you
might find it really hard to play the metronome, but
I promise I’m not lying. It’s really, really helpful. Okay, so how the metronome works. Since it’s 120 in a minute, and then 60 would obviously
be one beat every second. And pieces will tell you
what number to set it to, because it will actually
say quarter note equals 120 or something like that. Or a word that describes how fast it is, such as adagio or allegro
or something like that, and there’s a range of
values for each of those. But let me show you real quick what a metronome looks like. So if you don’t have a
metronome first of all, you can buy one on Amazon, but what you can also do
is just type in metronome into Google, and these
days Google has all sorts of crazy things that if you type it in it just pops up right away. So as you can see we have our BPM number. So if we set it to 120, for example… I might have to click where I want it. We’re almost there, back two. Alright, there we go. So, and if I hit Play here, let me turn up the volume
so we can all hear it. (clicking) Can you hear that? Hopefully you can hear that. Yeah, according to my
microphone you can hear that. So that is your beat. One, two. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. And that’s the general idea, is to be able to play along. I’ll end that, we’ll
restart it here in a minute. But to be able to play along each beat along with each of those clicks. Now we’ll get into some
tips I have for you, but let’s take a look first at… The next thing. Okay, I wanna talk about, for a minute, ways the metronome can help you. The metronome is great for
the following three reasons. There’s probably even more than three, but the three I can think of is… As you can imagine you have
to play along consistently with the beat. Number two is it can help
you identify problem areas. And when we play a piece
here together in a minute, I’ll show you exactly how that works. And number three, it can
be used to incrementally increase the speed of a piece. Because when you first start
playing with the metronome you’re gonna wanna set
it way low on the BPM so you can keep up. Because it’s gonna be a whole
extra experience for you to be able to play along
and think about the beats and all of that stuff. But what you can do is once you master it at a certain BPM level, you can start bumping it up
ten points at a time or so, and then eventually get back to the speed you’re supposed to. If you jump all the way
to that ending speed, you might have, and
actually I can guarantee it if you’re anything like me,
you will have a lot of trouble. Okay. We’re only doing one page, so I can really show you how it boils down and how it can be helpful. So here’s our page that
we are working with. I might zoom it out a little bit. It might be a little
uncomfortable for you, but since I’m trying to play
along with the metronome it’s more important that I’m
able to see what’s happening, rather than you, since
we’re not really doing a tutorial today. So the thing I’m gonna
do is, it says allegro right in the top of the
piece if you can see that. So one thing you wanna do is if you don’t know what these words mean, you actually wanna type in allegro and then maybe BPM into your search engine. And you can see right away, at least hopefully you can see, is that allegro is usually 120 to 168. So that’s what I’m gonna work up to. I’m not gonna start it at 120. I’m gonna actually try it a bit slower, at maybe… Maybe 90 to start out with. So let’s get back, let me get back to our
metronome here on Google. So let me set it correctly to… 90 or so. (metronome clicking slowly) Bah, bah. And you wanna internalize the
beat once you get started. (notes playing) And then you might even
wanna play eighth notes. (notes playing, metronome clicking) So that you’re locked into the rhythm. If you just start it and
then, like real cold, and you try to get right into your piece, it’s not gonna end well. Or start well, to tell you the truth. Alright, so let me start it up. (metronome clicking) And then we’re gonna get going here. So here we go. Now the thing to keep in mind… Is that I’m actually gonna start on… An upbeat. So I’m actually not
gonna start on a click, I’m gonna start on the
space between the click because I have an eighth
note I’m starting here. So you’ll wanna look up
about pick-up measures and things like that. But I’m not gonna get into this because I know the
clicking can get annoying if I’m not playing along. So here we go. (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) So as you can see immediately
I was able to pick out some things, problems
areas, right off the bat. I actually hadn’t warmed up yet. I’m gonna start it up again. I’m not gonna increase the tempo yet. It doesn’t make sense
to increase the tempo if there were mistakes, so here we go. (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) So as you can see there’s
still a couple mistakes in there, but it was
going a little bit better. I would actually practice
it through probably without the metronome one
time so I could just focus on the notes. So again, I’m starting it up. I don’t want to start it right away. I kinda wanna internalize the beat. One and two and three and four. And buh buh. (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) So it was quite a bit better this time. If you notice that I fell
a little bit out of phase with the metronome. This is very normal as you start to focus from the notes that you’re playing to the metronome and back and forth. You always wanna be opening up your ears and really listening to
what the metronome is doing. So I’m gonna try it
again a few more times. And each time it will
hopefully get better. Right away I could tell
that there’s a problem area here in the fourth measure. And that’s what I meant earlier, it helps you identify the problem areas. Because sure, I might be
able to play it perfectly slowing down really slow, and I might not even be
aware that I’m doing that. But, but… With the metronome it becomes
really, really obvious that it’s happening. So with the metronome it’s really helpful in determining, picking out those areas. So let me keep trying at it. We’re gonna get better
and better and better, and then once I feel like
it’s decent at that speed I’m gonna bump it up and show you exactly what I was talking about earlier. So here we go. Alright. So again I’m not gonna start right away. I’m gonna internalize the beat. Buh buh, buh buh. Buh buh. (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) So already it’s getting a lot better. So I think I’m almost
ready for bumping it up another few BPMs. Normally I’d probably keep
practicing it there for now. Let me shut this off because like I said,
unless I’m playing with it, it gets kind of annoying. At least it does to me. So let’s bump it up to maybe 100. You wanna bump it up by
maybe ten points each time. You don’t wanna bump it up by 40 or anything like that. If you absolutely kill it, then, I mean kill it in a good way, you really do well, then maybe you can try bumping it up by 20. Alright, let me get
the sheet of music here and let me start her up. (metronome clicking) You can hear it’s quite a bit faster. Buh buh, buh buh. Buh buh, buh buh. (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) Okay, I did okay. You could tell, there was a
few more mistakes in there, which makes sense, since I was playing it at a faster tempo. So I keep playing it a
few times until I got it. One thing I wanna mention
before I start actually is, you wanna make sure that you’re keeping
along with the downbeats, which are the clicks. So every time you have a new beat, you wanna make sure that
you’re hitting that note on that click. So, at like every start of
the measure, for example, hits right on the beat. So that can kinda help me
keep along with the metronome just in my head, saying, okay, here comes beat one in measure three. I wanna make sure I’m gonna hit it right on the mark there. So put up little markers to make sure you’re hitting on the correct beat. Here we go. (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) (metronome clicking) (Pathetique Sonata playing) So it was actually a bit better, even that time. So I would continue
practicing it again and again, I think you get the idea. Alright, now I’m gonna give you some tips on practicing with the metronome that I may have covered
or covered briefly. Or may not have covered at all. So I talked about that before, don’t start cranking
up the BPMs right away. You wanna start out on the lower end and work your way up to whatever you’re working towards or whatever they give you in
the beginning of the piece. Okay, and then you
wanna increase the tempo by about ten BPM until you get used to it and get up to your desired tempo. You wanna mark your problem areas and concentrate on
cleaning up those areas. So that’s just a collection of things that I really, really want you to get out of this lesson
before you start playing with the metronome. Or while you’re playing with it. Okay, and I think that
does it for the main part of the lesson. So now I’m gonna open up the floor. Subscribe if you haven’t already. But I’m gonna open up
the floor to questions about playing with the metronome. Okay, so our great student Barbara asks… What if you work up faster
than your desired tempo and then you kind of
backpedal a little bit to the slower tempo
that the piece is asking to make things easier? Sure, you can do that. That makes a lot of sense to me actually. But remember that you still
want to abide by the rules I gave you, which is when
you’re first learning the piece, don’t start faster
than what they give you. You wanna start way slower. Then yes, you actually can play it faster than it’s supposed to be, and then when it’s time to play it at its original tempo, it
should be easier to play. I’m kind of on the edge about this now that I said it out
loud and thinking about it. On one hand it sounds like a great idea. On the other hand, you might actually start
to get in the habit of playing it too fast. That is a thing. I know a lot of students
and a lot of people who actually play too fast. I tend to play a little
bit on the slower side, but some people play too fast. So it could work out. It sounds like a good idea, but be careful not to train
yourself to play it too fast. If you go over what
the allotted amount is, do it maybe only by ten, only by ten BPM, because even that is
significant speed increase. “Can you get to count
syncopation and stuff?” asks Grace. So the answer is not on this one. You can’t get this to count syncopation. This is just straight eighth notes. What you can do, this brings up an interesting point, is you can actually get a fancier… This is why you might
actually might wanna buy one. You can get a fancier one off of Amazon. And you can actually set
those to syncopated beats. Like buh buh, buh buh. Buh buh. So let’s type in metronome. Okay, and there are a lot to choose from. Now the standard old-school ones, like this one here, the Tempi Metronome For Musicians, that’s an old-school one. It’s the one on the right. That one only really gives you the clicks. But if you buy a newer one, a digital one, I’m not so sure about this. You’ll have to look at the
descriptions of each one, but there are ones where you
can change different settings. You know, you can have
it count in triplets. You can have it count in eighth notes. You can have it count at 3/4 or 4/4. This metronome I showed
you just counts straight. It just goes one, two, buh. It doesn’t even count actually. It just goes (imitates clicking) And then you have to do
the counting in your head. Now some of them what
they’ll do is they will accent the first beat of each measure. So if it’s in three it’ll go… (imitates rhythmic clicking) To give you that first downbeat. Or if it’s in four… (imitates rhythmic clicking) Feels like that rather than all even. So if you don’t have any metronome at all, and actually for me it’s
just more convenient to use the Google one, that one works perfectly fine
if you’re just starting out. But yeah, if you want
something a little more sophisticated with some more options, check out some of these other options. I recommend one called the Dr. Beat, I believe. I believe that’s what it’s called. That one you can set to a
couple different things. I think even this one, the
DB-60, would be alright. You don’t need the DB-90. Actually this is the one I had. The Boss DB-30C Dr. Beat Metronome. So I recommend you pick up that one. Alright, students, I really
want you to subscribe because we have new
lessons coming out live every Friday, every Sunday. 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. And some lessons peppered out in between. And I don’t want you to miss a beat. So subscribe now.

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  • Reply Bam & Molly May 5, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Ahahaha!! I'm not a good friend with metronome tim ๐Ÿ˜Š

  • Reply Piano Lessons On The Web May 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Hey students!
    I highly recommend that you take a look at my free e-book "The Piano Practice Guide, Your Road to Success" where you will find practice strategies, what you should be practicing and how long you should be practicing. Get it here:

  • Reply Adria Taylor May 6, 2018 at 3:14 am

    Just love it when you say your thing and end with "so you don't miss a beat". how perfect is that saying. you should make it a trademark.

  • Reply Alice Loke May 6, 2018 at 5:26 am

    You are very correct about the annoyance. I don't have a metronome but has an inbuilt one with my keyboard and can't seem to keep in time.

  • Reply Marianne February 8, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    Is it me or does the music sound like Sherlock theme?

  • Reply George Starr April 12, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    I got a really nice Metronome App for my phone that has lots of settings, and even flashes the flash on my phone. I'm going to install it on either a tablet or an old phone I have. Thanks for sharing these tips. I'm slowly getting there, my son says I'm still varying my rhythm between counts like 1-2-3—4 but I'ver only practiced right now with it 2 times. I'm enjoying learning so to me that's all that counts. Thanks to you and others, I have basic music theory almost licked.

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