Tick, tick, tick, tick…the constant click of a metronome could conceivably drive a person crazy. I am now - although I wasn’t always - a metronome fan. Though this may sound crazy to some of you, the metronome is my favorite practice tool because it helps me fix errors, create flow and it gives me time to play a piece or a tricky passage correctly.
I realize that this may not be your experience with the metronome. Maybe your feeling about it is more like this:
If you’ve seen the classic movie Ben Hur, you already know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, let me set the scene for you.
At one point in the tale, our hero Judah Ben Hur is a galley slave on a Roman ship, chained to an oar with several other slaves. The entire hold of the ship is filled with men chained to oars; they are the engine of the ship. In order for the slaves to generate enough power to move the ship, it is essential that they row in a coordinated way. So at the front of the galley is a man beating a drum. He sets the tempo for the rowers. When the ship enters into battle, the drummer picks up the pace. Slaves collapse left and right trying to keep up. Does this sound like your metronome experience, only without the sweat and starvation?
Apparently, this depiction isn’t historically accurate, but it may be accurate enough if your metronome feels like a slave driver. Actually the Latin word used in the movie for the drummer is hortator. Our word “exhort” meaning to urge or advise comes from the same root. Hortator can also mean encourager. You may not be ready to think of your metronome as a friendly encourager just yet, but I hope to give you a glimpse of that today.
We’ll talk about the best use of the metronome - and it’s NOT for speeding up - plus I will share two of my favorite ways to use the metronome to help me play more musically. Even better, if you’ve never been able to use a metronome before, you’ll learn exactly how to do it. That’s right. I will actually teach you how to work with your metronome and why it’s important. Stick with me here; I can pretty much guarantee you will love this.
Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode:
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