April 8, 2006 at 10:23 AMStudents 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.
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!)
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