Metronome Practice

Tick, tick, tick. The metronome beats back and forth, and…you got off. Again. You start over.  You contemplate how a metronome would accent your lawn. Outside your closed window. How does metronome practice help?![su_spacer size=”40″]

Metronome Practice: One Bar at a Time[su_spacer size=”20″]

First, find a bar where you made a mistake. We will call this a bar of terror. Play your bar slowly until you can play it perfectly. Now, how fast was that? Find the beat on your metronome. Play the bar of terror again at the same speed. And again for a total of three times.[su_spacer]



Now you get to go faster! We all like going faster after all. But there’s a catch. Only go one tick faster. Play your bar 3 times perfectly. In a row. Did you mess up the second time? You get to start over![su_spacer]

metronome practice


Make it a game. Give yourself points. Give yourself chocolate. Use whatever motives you to slow down and be precise. Did you make it to 3? Reward yourself, and repeat, one tick faster.[su_spacer]


“This is crazy!”, you might say. But, I promise practicing with a metronome one bar at a time works. My kids know it works. I know it works.[su_spacer]


I teach my own children on Fridays. I love Friday mornings. Where my kids plow through their songs all week, they practice with the metronome, 1 bar at a time on Fridays. Why? Because it works, and by this point in the week they are desperate to sound better in their group lessons! I smile to myself, because they know it, and I know it, and we all win.[su_spacer size=”40″]


Metronome Practice: Four Bar Phrases[su_spacer]


Once you have conquered the individual bars of sheer terror, it’s time to put them into context. Take  the four bar phrase that contains your bar of terror. Slow it down to a speed you can comfortably play. Find this beat on your metronome. Play all four bars through. Did you do it perfectly? Great! If not, try again. [su_spacer]


Now, see if you can complete the phrase three times in a row. Did you do this? If so, reward yourself, and increase the tick by one beat. Repeat and continue increasing the beat until you can go no further, and pencil in the number on your metronome.[su_spacer]

Tomorrow, go back a few ticks, and repeat this process. Did you increase your time? Soon, you will be up to the correct tempo.[su_spacer size=”40″]


Metronome Practice: The Whole Piece[su_spacer]


Now that you have conquered the bars of terror and the phrases that surround them, it’s time to set the metronome for the entire piece.[su_spacer]


I want you to find the hardest and slowest bar of the entire piece. What is the speed? This is going to be the speed at which you start your piece. Now, see if you can go 8 bars without mistakes. Then sixteen. Can you play your whole piece with the metronome with no mistakes? If so, reward yourself![su_spacer]



This is how I taught my children to practice their exam pieces. Once they knew their pieces by memory, they became careless and did not want to practice carefully. Towards the exam date, I gave them each a small pack of treats. If they could play the piece perfectly, they could reward themselves with a little treat.[su_spacer]


This has worked so well for my young students. But, there’s no reason you as an adult can’t reward yourself too! Give yourself a sip of coffee, or an opportunity to walk around the room. Find a little treat and reward yourself for each little victory in your metronome practice.[su_spacer size=”40″]


One Final Treat[su_spacer]

Now, daily after you have taken time in your practice session to work diligently, reward yourself by playing through the piece without trying so hard. Don’t stop for mistakes, but pretend you never made them. Enjoy yourself. After all, that’s why you take piano, right?![su_spacer size=”60″]



If this article was a help to your practice routine, would you please click the share button at the bottom of this page? Thanks![su_spacer size=”60″]


Click here if you are preparing for an exam.





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