V.com weekend vote: Do you use a metronome that is mechanical, electronic, or an app?

April 7, 2017, 11:52 AM · The metronome can be a musician's best friend -- a pesky friend, to be sure, but a helpful one.

But in order to use a metronome, you need to have a metronome on hand, whether you are at home, in a practice room or traveling. This has become much easier in these days of digital apps -- if you have a phone in your pocket, then you can have a metronome!

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But using an app is different from using a traditional metronome, with its loud tick-tock and very physical swinging of the pendulum. Some people prefer the old-fashioned physicality of a mechanical metronome to the quiet precision of the phone or computer app.

Of course, there are still electronic metronomes, which can pack a pretty loud tick and are almost as portable as a phone app.

Convenience matters, especially for those who are students and those who travel. When I was a student, a few years back (ahem), I started my college days with an inconveniently huge, plastic Taktell metronome. In hindsight, this was a fine piece of equipment. It kept tickin' and stayed precise, despite the relentless bashing it got as I traipsed around campus with this thing in my bag. But I was all too happy to get a pocket-size electronic metronome after about a year.

These days, I have the large wooden version of the mechanical metronome in my studio, as well as a good electronic one that travels easily. In a pinch, I'm certainly not above using an app, and I encourage it for students who made not be able to buy a metronome immediately. I'd love to hear about the apps that people are using, and which are most highly recommended.

So check in with the poll, and tell us about what you use, what you prefer, and how that has evolved!

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Replies

April 7, 2017 at 07:45 PM · One nice thing about apps is that they don't start ticking in your checked luggage if you've forgotten to remove the batteries.

April 7, 2017 at 09:12 PM · I use an app in my iPhone. It's much more versatile than any mechanical metronome. And it's more versatile than any stand alone electronic metronome I've seen too. When required I use a small Bluetooth speaker to get the volume up as loud as I could ever need it. The only downside is that it's yet another reason I'm totally dependent on my iPhone, and my life will end if I ever lose it. ;)

April 7, 2017 at 09:35 PM · I use an app on my phone with the same Bluetooth options that Mark mentioned.

It's not an iPhone, though, but I still manage somehow.

April 7, 2017 at 10:42 PM · My father was very into Heathkit when I was a kid. And he and I built together a Heathkit Solid State metronome (well, actually he built it and I "helped"). It looked like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hwtB2LhmvA

This was in the mid-1970s, not the late 60s, but I guess they were available throughout that period.

I don't know what happened to the Heathkit metronome when I went off to college. I think it stopped working long before that. In any case, when I started playing again I bought one of those Taktells, which I still use occasionally and bring in to class when I teach a Pendulums lesson. But I mostly use the Korg metronome/tuner combo device that I bought primarily as a tuner and then found the metronome function useful as well.

April 7, 2017 at 11:21 PM · I use the metronome function of a digital piano.

April 8, 2017 at 12:34 AM · What a neat story, Karen!

April 8, 2017 at 12:32 PM · I have all three types. The wood pyramid is more for nostalgia - the tick and the tock are no longer even. I have a tuner- metronome app on my iPhone. I have two.electronic ones. I bought the second when I dropped the first one. Being an electronic hobbist - a radio amateur, I took the broken one apart and soldered in a new part. I also built the Heathkit one for my pianist mom many years ago and got it back when she passed but I couldn't get a replacement part anymore.

April 8, 2017 at 02:31 PM · Apps all the way! Specifically, Clockwork for iOS. Unlike physical metronomes, it has independent volume for subdivisions, accents, goes 20-300, has screen flash, etc. etc. Doesn't EVER go uneven, can play for hours without rewinding, doesn't need packing, always handy. Loud enough, or easily used with Bluetooth speaker.

Laurie, you know there's apps that mimic the pendulum motion on screen, in case one is "nostalgic" for that.

My students practice their scales with "rhythm machine" apps. It's more fun while developing their listening skills. Cheaper than hiring you own on-demand, fussy drummer

April 8, 2017 at 03:46 PM · I use an old Korg KDM-1. It has a wood-block tone that can be dialed way up and can be heard in a chamber ensemble when we need to work out a rhythm.

April 8, 2017 at 07:45 PM · I like the sensory experience of using the traditional metronome, but I have been using my phone more and more. A great feature on some apps is the practice mode with automatic acceleration. For example, if I'm trying to speed up a 4 bar passage, I'll do some quick math: (4 bars + 1 bar count-in) times 5 repetitions at each tempo = 25.

I set it to increase 5 bpm every 25 bars, starting at 60 and ending at 80, and then play. It even tells me how many minutes it will take to reach my goal tempo.

April 8, 2017 at 09:04 PM · Electronic as my mechanical simply died. I've got a flip-phone (yes, I'm old enough to be called a curmudgeon) so the question of using an APP isn't for me. The electronic metronome works just fine.

April 9, 2017 at 04:28 AM ·

April 9, 2017 at 04:32 AM · I have a traditional wood metronome, but the one I use is quite small. Perhaps 4 inches by 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches. It is a small enough design that it easily fits into my violin case. You still wind it up and let that arm swing. I must confess that I downloaded a metronome app after seeing this article posted. It does appear pretty handy.

April 9, 2017 at 02:06 PM · I would like the convenience of an app, but I find a beep rather than a solid click to be distracting (since a beep is too close to what I consider a pitch).

So, I use an old Franz electric metronome with a solid woodblock "thunk" sound for the beat. It has no features beyond clicking lol.

April 9, 2017 at 02:06 PM · I would like the convenience of an app, but I find a beep rather than a solid click to be distracting (since a beep is too close to what I consider a pitch).

So, I use an old Franz electric metronome with a solid woodblock "thunk" sound for the beat. It has no features beyond clicking lol.

April 9, 2017 at 08:02 PM · This is on my stand:

https://www.amazon.com/Seiko-SQ50-V-Quartz-Metronome/dp/B000LFCXL8/ref=sr_1_4?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1491767424&sr=1-4&keywords=metronome

This is in my case:

https://www.amazon.com/Korg-TM50BK-Instrument-Tuner-Metronome/dp/B00923H7MA/ref=sr_1_5?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1491767424&sr=1-5&keywords=metronome

April 10, 2017 at 07:53 AM · I started using a metronome in the early 1950s. To this day, I PREFER a wind-up mechanical metronome. I absolute destest batteries—in any field of human activity—as they have a nasty habit of running out at the most inopportune time.

April 10, 2017 at 12:49 PM · The better Android apps have a realistic click sound that you can select.

April 10, 2017 at 06:55 PM · The speaker on a smartphone just isn't capable of making the loud woodblock "thunk" that I desire. But a click is always better than a beep.

April 10, 2017 at 07:30 PM · I used to have a physical metronome in high school. Now I use the cutest Sanrio x Korg tuner combo. It was easier to just slide the weight on my trusty, old wooden one, but it isn't convenient to lug around the city anymore.

April 11, 2017 at 02:47 PM · I currently use an antique metronome. My former conductor scolded me for it because it kept less than perfect time. The time was as consistent as any given conductor in my opinion. I rarely use a metronome, but it is useful when I am learning to play something on the organ. But it gets in the way when I am playing on the viola.

April 11, 2017 at 06:24 PM · I don't use a metronome all that often (my timing is pretty good) but if I do need one I pull out the old mechanical unit. I'm another one of those curmudgeons with a flip phone; there are no apps to enslave me. I do have an electronic tuner somewhere that might have a built-in metronome - but it never made it into my case; my tuning fork works just as well, is smaller, and doesn't need batteries. I have little enough time to play music - I don't want to waste it fiddling with gadgets.

April 11, 2017 at 11:26 PM · Whatever you use, it would be useful to master an app for emergencies.

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