Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Metronome; There’s a Reason Everyone Says to Use It

Life is accompanied by advice; usually lots of it. Floss regularly and eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables are two prominent examples. All good advice; so good in fact that we all acknowledge it while ignoring it at the same time; how many of us flossed this morning for example? “Use a metronome when you practice” is another one of these ubiquitous knowledge nuggets. I am not here to outline all the reasons to use a metronome; plenty of people (all people) will tell you that. All I'm here to say is actually do it!

Sure, I've paid lip service to the metronome, and nod knowingly any time I receive sage advice on the importance of its use. I have one of course, just like I have a roll of dental floss in the bathroom cabinet. My initial use of the device was solely around a quest for speed; starting scales at one speed and continually increasing the speed until I would have a blow out. The outcome was always the same though, an eventual blowout, which was more of a negative feedback loop than I wanted to deal with so I stopped using it. Recently I got the metronome back out in observance of my new found focus on the basics and realize there is something to it like all good advice.

When practicing I tend to wander all over the place on tempo. If I'm practicing a particular song I'll stop for a do over as soon as I hit a clam. Another prominent artifact is the tendency to slow down in front of a difficult section. That usually has the same result as when you see an athlete hesitate before the big jump at the X Games, a spectacular wipeout. The big discovery was that using a metronome for pacing in a practice session made the playing a lot more enjoyable and consistent as it removes the opportunity to hesitate before a jump.

So, tomorrow start your day by flossing, throw in some servings of fruits and vegetables and then dig out that metronome (I know you have one). You'll be glad you did!


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