What does it mean, when all your metronomes stop ticking?
That's what happened to me over the last six months or so. First, my miniature Dr. Beat ran out of juice, then never came back to life after I gave it a new battery. This was the little, light, high-tech metronome I bought a few years ago for practicing orchestral excerpts. It was capable of dishing out some 350+ beats per minute, so that if I wanted to account for every single beat in the Mendelssohn Scherzo, I could. I viewed this metronome as an instrument of unusual, even slightly un-musical torture. I didn't miss it.
More distressing was when my beautiful wooden Wittner developed arrhythmia.
I love this old-fashioned metronome. It mesmerizes my students, who are fascinated by all its mechanical features: winding it, moving the weight up and down the stick to adjust the tempo, nudging it to begin, watching it oscillate. It even has an outrageously loud bell to mark measures, if you so desire.
Over time, the metronome went from a steady "tick-tock, tick-tock" to "tick…tock? tick…tock?" to "tick……tock????" To watch the way that stick wobbled and lost its way -- my metronome truly seemed sick. I stopped trying to use it, and it became a nice decoration and curiosity.
This didn't pose a major problem, because still I had my trusty Seiko metronome -- companion to me since high school. I'd accidentally dropped on the floor countless times -- maybe even flung across the room a few times in college. It had taken falls in which it burst open and completely spilled its guts. Yet it kept ticking, with great accuracy. That is, until a few weeks ago, when it stopped. No slow demise, just Boom! No beat. After such a long and robust life, I couldn't blame it.
Finally, I had no metronome, and that's not a tenable situation.
Wanting a quick solution, I went online and bought a cheap metronome, just a simple one with a dial. I had it for two weeks when I dropped it for the first time on my carpeted studio floor and it went silent. Though the light kept blinking, I could not cajole it into speaking again. Ever.
At this point, I started to wonder: what was going on, here? Was there a bigger meaning? What is the symbolism behind a broken metronome? I did some research: My "Feng Shui" book, which talks about the symbolism of various objects in a person's house, advises that having a working pendulum clock with as many moving parts as possible "adds rhythm to a space, making it easier to find your own rhythm." Hmm, does it follow that, if my pendulum stops, I've lost my rhythm? I leafed through my dream dictionary, another source specializing in the symbolism of various objects. "Clock with hands still = death," it said. DEATH?!
Okay, time to fix the frigging metronome problem.
First, I replaced the electronic metronome. I figured, if my old "Seiko" lasted 30 years, I'll stick with that brand. I got a very simple one with a dial, a light and an option to make the beat louder or quieter, higher or lower. Perfect!
Then, to fix my Wittner. (A new one is not cheap!) I was advised to seek a clock repairperson. The first three I called did not seem to understand why I'd be asking them about a metronome. One even said, "Does it have a battery?" Ah, clock stores sell batteries for watches and clocks.
Where's this guy when you need him?
I tried one more number, and bingo! I found him. I drove out to Cal's Jewelers, where I met Eddie, who is a man who knows his craft. Before I knew it, he was disassembling my metronome, shouting out to me from a back room, "Good news, aluminum parts! They won't rust. Just needs a little oil."
In minutes, he brought me a working metronome.
"Oh my goodness!" I said. "What do I owe you?"
Thank you for your time, Eddie. And for giving me back mine!Tweet
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
Violinist.com is made possible by...