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Emily Grossman

Training Partner

April 8, 2006 at 10:23 AM

Students may argue against phrasing, philosophies, or interpretation, but they can't deny the truth that is the metronome. It is logical and absolute, uncompromising and unbiased. The tangible sign of improvement I get after a good speed drilling excites me just about as much as adding receipts, or calling the weatherman, or arranging rows of cookies, or counting stitches in my knitting. This is what a metronome gives me: solid proof of numerical achievement in an otherwise rather subjective pursuit of perfection. (I truly like numbers, by the way; I could take them and create a graph, too, if you like.)

My metronome is twelve years old. I can't think of any other item off the top of my head that I have been able to keep track of for this long. I bought it in college on a shoestring budget; it was the cheapest one I could find. No, it's not the beautiful wooden pyramid with the swinging pendulum that I cut my musical teeth on, but it's portable and doesn't require winding, and the electronic beep is polite, at least. I've since heard other metronomes with nasty drill sergeant demeanors, but this isn't one of those.

My training partner has seen better days, I suppose. It looked just fine up until my dog got a hold of it when he was in puppy-chew stage; he found it to be the perfect size and texture for breaking in his adult teeth. The corners have frayed, and the plastic face eventually came undone, but with a little tape, I've been able to keep it in commission--that is, until I sent it through the wash in my vest pocket last week. I wasn't even aware that I had forgotten it there until my ears picked up a familiar steady beep emitting from the laundry room.

Now, I still use it, but the digital numbers have ceased to make sense. Instead of 56, 72, 120, I see foreign shapes repeating in regular patterns. Every once in a while I can make out a 1 or a 4. In order to find specifics, I have to first locate 60 or 120 by the tempo of my watch, and then follow the patterns up in groups of ten until I reach my desired speed. Reluctantly, I have to admit that this is no longer going to be tolerable. It's just a shame to have to retire it when the battery still works and the cheerful beep persists, even after all these years.

Sometimes I don't like to move onto new things.


From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 8, 2006 at 6:18 PM
Send it to me with $45 and I will fix.
From Carley Anderson
Posted on April 9, 2006 at 12:19 AM
I can do better.
From Wes Surber
Posted on April 9, 2006 at 3:27 AM
I have a metronome that looks just like that. I think I paid $20 for it.
From Jessica Hung
Posted on April 9, 2006 at 5:01 AM
I understand that illogical sentimental value. I have a Dr. Beat now several years old; the battery cover's fallen off so that the battery just dangles and sometimes comes unattached, and the dial has broken so that you can turn it but have no idea which way the numbers will go. It's still functional, though, and was a huge investment, so I intend to keep it until it dies.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 9, 2006 at 5:22 AM
The amazing thing about this old relic is that I've never replaced the battery. $45, Jim? It would be interesting to see how you would fix it, and that in itself makes it almost worth it, but not quite. I could choose from several new ones for that price. I can't be too sentimental.

Now cars, on the other hand... Tell me, is it wiser to fix the bearings on the transmission of a '94 Civic with 213,000 miles, or should we just put the faithful friend down? (Nooo!)

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 9, 2006 at 5:33 AM
The fact that the battery hasn't needed replacing isn't amazing. That's easy. The amazing thing is that the water didn't affect the beeper.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 9, 2006 at 5:45 AM
One possibility that shouldn't be overlooked is that an almost dead battery could be causing the symptoms you see. The design might not include low battery detection and immediate shutdown below a threshold. To test this without buying a new battery, warm the battery up in your toaster oven, which will temporarily raise its voltage. 10 years is considered the shelf life of that kind of battery.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 9, 2006 at 9:08 AM
I've had bad experiences with toaster ovens.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 10, 2006 at 3:46 AM
I'd be wary of putting the battery in the toaster oven. Some toxic compounds, including some metallics, are volatile. However, I like Jim's theory that the only part of the metronome that is dead is the battery. Water can kill batteries.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 10, 2006 at 3:55 AM
Carley, that's a very impressive metronome for a good price.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 10, 2006 at 6:30 AM
I'm going to ask for it for my birthday.

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