Teaching Metronome Use
I believe the metronome is a valuable practice aid. Like any other skill, such as counting out loud or
playing with a duet partner, it is a skill that must be learned and therefore can be taught.
With beginners (teens and adults, the first or second lesson; with 3-year-olds, perhaps the 4th lesson; with
school-age children, the 2nd or 3rd), I use these steps to metronome use:
For a child, I make the first three items above into "The Metronome Game," whose idea is to avoid
by the parent or sibling who sets the metronome. "The secret of winning," I whisper into the student's ear,
"is always to listen first." I suggest about 6 different speeds daily, especially focusing on the ones that
seem weak (slow speeds, usually).
- clap to the metronome, listening first before clapping starts; start with mid-range speeds, such as 80
and move faster; when 208 is reached, give a "hard one," such as 52
- same as above but hide the metronome so the student must listen only, not watch and listen;
youngsters like to hide under the piano or behind a chair; with adults and teens, hold up the assignment
book in front of the metronome
- especially for youngsters, assign a "metronome song" each week, probably for at least 6 months; this
should be a song that is very easy--passed off weeks ago--so he can really concentrate on playing it at
different speeds on the metronome
- play hand-over-hand triad arpeggios to the metronome (major, minor, augmented, diminished) all to
208 (this has the added benefit of drilling all triads, learning to build triads, learning the "feel" of a triad,
and getting the student used to using the entire keyboard)
- 4-note arpeggios, hands together (root-III-V-octave and back down) to 208, especially moving
chromatically through all chords (I do major and minor, usually skipping augmented and diminished), up
and down for two octaves
- continuous arpeggios, hands together, to triplet = ~100, up and down for three octaves
After the metronome is easy for the student to use, make sure you assign its use regularly in literature, as
well as for the hand-over-hand triads.
copyright 1996, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
Contact me about reprint permission.
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