Monday, June 6, 2016

How To Fall In Love With The Metronome

This blog post is dedicated to all the music students (and teachers of those students) that have a love/hate (or just plain hate) relationship with their metronome!  Check out the list of common reasons students avoid the metronome, some creative solutions to these problems, and also take time to watch the incredible movie clip that can shed an entirely new light on the subject!  

7 Common Reasons Students Avoid the Metronome
(with some creative solutions!)

1. It feels restrictive and robotic.

Try pop music as a metronome!  
Click HERE to read a blog post on the subject. 

2. Practicing at slow tempos seems to "take forever."

Create a Flying Fingers Tempo Chart for motivation!
Click HERE to download a FREE chart tutorial!

3. The unrelenting consistency reveals technical and rhythmic inaccuracies.

Go back to basics and improve your comfort levels!
Click HERE to download a FREE "Ultimate Rhythm Guide"
(and also read 10 tips for how to use it)!

4. Breathing and tempo changes become challenging to "fit in."

Practice a strictly in time version of your piece to begin, then enjoy alternating the strictly in time version with the more expressive versions until your interpretation is refined!
If you get frustrated along the way, take a break to read this post on Breaks, Mistakes, and the Art of Stress Free Practicing!

5. It feels like a battle that can't be won. 

Click HERE to read about some common "Musician Failure Mentalities" and some alternative ways of looking at things!

6. It feels basic/elementary and it's too tempting to just get to the "real music version."

It is a HUGE myth that lower level students need the metronome and higher level students don't.  True professional musicians use their metronomes all the time!  Click HERE to read a creative description of common blind spots students don't even realize they have.  After reading, invest in a more inspiring new perspective!

7. Not really sure what tempos to practice!

Try this easy peasy, super reliable metronome strategy!

1 - Choose which type of note the click should represent. (An eighth note? A quarter note?)

2 - Review the rhythms in your passage and remind yourself how many of the written notes fit into each click (i.e. for a sixteenth note passage, two notes would fit into an eighth note click OR four notes would fit into a quarter note click). 

2 - Try any tempo to start and play a sample passage.

3 - Is your playing messy? Try a slower tempo!
Is your playing heavy and lethargic? Try a faster tempo!

4 - Keep refining until you find a tempo that FEELS GOOD for where you are and gives you room for baby steps leading to the tempo you'd like to be at.  (Not sure what tempo is a good goal tempo?  Listen to a recording of your piece and/or Google any tempo instructions like Andante, Presto, etc. to find a traditional tempo range).  

5 - Feel free to change your mind about your tempo as your technique improves, your familiarity with the music is deepened, and as you discover new practice goals!  Practicing at a variety of tempos will build confidence, connection, and flexibility! 

Here is my absolute favorite, truly inspiring movie clip (from the movie Another Earth) that will help your relationship with the metronome from now on!  Teachers, this can be a really powerful teaching tool if you sit and watch it WITH your students!  

Feel free to watch below or click HERE for the YouTube link.

Happy Practicing!

Terri S├ínchez

P.S. I've been receiving more and more requests for online flute lessons and practice coaching sessions.  I'm happy to report that I've opened up 5 dates this summer for Skype lessons!  I still have a few spots available for the following Fridays (June 10th, June 24th, July 8th, July 22nd, and August 5th).  Email me at to reserve your lesson spots!