wikiHow to Use a Metronome

Three Parts:Selecting a MetronomeSetting a MetronomePracticing with a Metronome

A metronome is a musical tool to help musicians keep better rhythm. A metronome provides a steady rhythmic sound which helps keep player or players in the appropriate time for the piece. Incorporating a metronome as a regular part of your practice can help you to master a piece of music and improve your performance. It's a good idea for every musician to know how to use a metronome.

Part 1
Selecting a Metronome

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    Learn the different types of metronomes. There are pocket-sized digital metronomes, wind-up mechanical metronomes, app metronomes for your phone, or you can even go all out and get a drum machine. Depending on your needs, some styles of metronome will perform better than others. In general, mechanical metronomes tend to have more basic features and work very well for a lot of the classical instruments that you'd find in an orchestra. Digital metronomes tend to have a lot of features design with modern music performer in mind.
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    Determine additional features you need. Consider the instrument you play. There are a wide selection of metronomes on the market for good reason. Depending on the instrument you play and your personal preferences you might find only certain metronomes for you. For instance, if you are a drummer you may need a headphone jack, a line out, or volume control features.[1]
    • If you have a stringed instrument that needs to be tuned, you might want to opt for a metronome with a tuner.
    • If you will need to use your metronome on the go, opt for smaller digital metronomes over larger wind-up mechanical metronomes.
    • If find visual cues help you to anticipate the beat and keep time better, consider a mechanical metronome. By watching the swinging pendulum while you play it can help a musician to see the beat.
    • Be sure the metronome you choose has a selection of time signatures and BPMs to suit your needs.
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    Try it before you buy it. When you practice you will hear your metronome a lot, sometimes more than 100 times a minute depending on the speed of the song. It is important to try a metronome to be sure it makes a sound you can work with.[2] Some digital metronomes make a high-pitched digital beep, while many make a tock noise similar to a very loud clock. Try playing along with the metronome and make sure the sound will help you to keep time without getting on your nerves or distracting you from your performance.

Part 2
Setting a Metronome

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    Set the tempo. Most digital metronomes will use BPM or beats per minute as a way to measure the speed of the piece. Some mobile metronomes available for phones will even allow you to tap the beat on your screen to get the corresponding tempo.
    • On most quartz metronomes, the BPM is listed around the edge of the dial. Within the BPM selections, there are corresponding Italian words that are traditionally used to describe tempo, such as Allegro and Presto.[3]
    • On wind-up models, you simply slide the weight up the metal bar to the desired tempo or the marking indicated on the music to be rehearsed.
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    Set the time signature. Many digital metronomes will allow you to set the time signature, but most wind-up metronomes do not. Time signatures consist of two numbers written how you would write a mathematical fraction. The top number indicates the number of beats in a measure. The bottom number indicates the value of the beat.
    • For example, a piece in 4/4 time would have four quarter notes in a measure, while a piece in 2/4 time would have two quarter notes in a measure.
    • Some pieces of music may have several time signatures. To practice them with a metronome you will have to take it in parts and reset the metronome to match the changing time signatures.
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    Set the volume. Setting the volume for the metronome is especially important for any digital devices. You want to find a volume that won't be drowned out by the music but isn't overwhelming either. Many swinging or wind-up metronomes will not have a volume control, but musicians can follow the swinging of the metronome to keep accurate time even if they are unable to hear the metronome over the music. Some electronic metronomes will also have an LED light that goes on and off in time with the beat.

Part 3
Practicing with a Metronome

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    Familiarize yourself with the notes of the music before using your metronome. Practice the piece without any regard to time at first.[4] Once you know the notes and chords and have a good grasp on the order they are played, then you can begin to focus on performing the piece at the appropriate rhythm.
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    Start out slow. Slow practice will make for fast playing. [5] Set your metronome to 60 or 80 BPM to begin with.
    • Listen to the metronome for a few moments before you begin playing. You may want to tap your feet or watch the metronome to help you keep the time with your internal clock.
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    Focus on problem areas. Music is never equally difficult throughout the entire piece. Some spots will give you more trouble than others. Use the metronome at a slow speed and take it one note at a time until your hands become more familiar with required movements.
    • You can also try adding in the notes one at a time to work out a trouble spot. Begin with just the first note of the piece. Play the note again, then add the second note. Stop. Start again with the first two notes and add the third note, and so on. Continue until you reach the end of the piece.
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    Speed it up. Once you feel comfortable and confident playing the piece slowly, increase the tempo. Small increases are the best. Stick to about 5 BPM above the previous setting. Go through the piece until you are comfortable with performing at the higher speed. Then, increase the speed again. Keep raising the tempo slowly until you can perform the song at full speed.
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    Test Yourself. Once you feel you have mastered a piece of music, you can try practicing the piece along with the metronome.[6] You may not areas where your performance was not as even as you believed it to be. Work on those areas some more to become a better musician.


  • Listen to the tick of your metronome, even if you are not playing. This can help develop your consistent, regular inner clock, especially if you follow the printed music while listening to the metronome.
  • Some people think the insistent sound of metronome is very annoying, so make sure not to leave it on for long it is irksome to your family or flatmates.

Things You'll Need

  • Metronome
  • Instrument
  • Sheet music or score
  • Batteries—if using a digital metronome

Article Info

Categories: Music Techniques