Metronome?Or not?

April 11, 2010 at 07:33 PM ·

I've been playing violin for years without a metronome (my previous teacher prefer me to use my own "feeling" in counting).

But then again, when i've to move and find another teacher, he ask me to play exactly in the same beat with a metronome..I know it's good to have a steady tempo..But the problem is..I "can't" play together with a metronome..To be honest, it disturb my focus and rhythm..I always lost "my own" rhythm which truly disturb me and it's quiet a pain..

And when i play again without a metronome at home practice..Nothing is going wrong..

I even match my tempo with a friend of mine who had played violin since he was a little kid, and we have the same "beat"..

Should i adjusted myself for the metronome or not?

PS: My teacher won't hear me if i told him that i lost my count because of a metronome since himself is using one..But, i just "can't" play together with it..

Sorry for the long message..Help please?

Replies (33)

April 11, 2010 at 08:03 PM ·

I believe you answered your own question..."I "can't" play together with a metronome..To be honest, it disturb my focus and rhythm"

a metronome doesn't lie...I believe it to be a very useful tool

April 11, 2010 at 10:40 PM ·


Although you may feel you have the same "beat" as your friend who uses a metronome, remember that it is very difficult to reach a high level of rhythmic precision without extensive external training. 

Rhythmic precision doesn't just mean having steady quarter or eight notes--those are easy to time.

Where we need metronomic training is in the tracking of rests, long note values, tied values, and dotted rhythms. These are the areas that cause people to lose orchestral auditions. While the human brain is good at certain rhythmic tasks such as walking, it has great difficulty dealing with these more complex patterns, and is not very good at precise measurement of intervals of silence.




April 12, 2010 at 12:40 AM ·


It sounds like you need to get comfortable with a metronome. If your teacher wants you to play with one, there's probably a good reason. Just get familiar with it with some very very simple exercises first... ones you don't really have to think about, the simpler the better.  Yes, it's valuable to keep your own timing, but it's also valuable to play with precise metronomic  timing.  Once you get used to playing with a metronome, you'll find it very helpful. Good luck!


April 12, 2010 at 01:27 AM ·


as above.   In the future one will have to play with conducters.  Some of whom bear a remarkable resemblence to metronomes and not much else....



April 12, 2010 at 02:37 AM ·

; )   I actually hated metronomes too... until last year when I learned some Mozart for the first time, after a terrible first week, it became really fun (well almost)... I used to call it my little accompagnist and heard the piano part in my head much better with the metronome.  But I had to hear the piano in my head for it to be interesting!  It learns discipline to the fingers and after you play better.  You also play better with the piano!

Good luck!


April 12, 2010 at 02:39 AM ·

It takes A LOT of practice to learn to play with a metronome. I used to be... shall we say, rhythmically challenged, but I decided that I was tired of that insecurity and I learned to play with the metronome and to count for myself. Now the metronome is my security blanket when I practice weird rhythms. but it did take about a year of just making myself trust the metronome. It's like eating vegetables and practicing scales, you just have to suck it up and endure. It will get easier if you keep after it.

Good luck :)

April 12, 2010 at 04:54 AM ·

I'm a fiddler, so I can't say anything about classical training with the metronome, but sometimes when I just want to play around with a theme or some sounds, I set the metronome and use it as the backdrop to the violin. It really can be a lot of fun.

April 12, 2010 at 05:08 AM ·

What they said.  Personally, I've gone to some extremes to be steady.  Sometimes when I'm not practicing and I have to walk across campus or something I hook my earbuds into my metronome and set it to the tempo I need for a specific excerpt and listen to that.  It sounds kinda dorky but no one knows I'm not listening to an iPod or something.  One time someone asked me what I was listening to and I said "138 to the quarter".  He said "oh cool I'll have to check them out.  People are too ignorant to judge you.  Then I head into a practice room the next chance I get and play according to the tempo I've been listening to.  Hard to play out of time when you've just chiseled the tempo onto your brain like that.  It's not the only way to go but it helped me.  Cheers.

April 12, 2010 at 12:52 PM ·

 Well there's two sides to this .

  It's important to be able to follow a metronome, its gets us to not listen to our own beat,but to follow another and also corrects major timing issues.So with certain pieces ,orchestra, studies scales ,new rhythm patterns etc... train yourself to follow another's beat. When it comes to solo pieces do not practice with a metronome -metronomes or click tracks are music killers .They suck the life out of music.You do not want a metronome interfering with you sense of expression or making you musically bored. It's only natural that a piece gradually gets faster or flows like a wave ,it's not normal or entertaining if the beat stays the same.When working with solo pieces,record yourself first ,then correct the problem areas , be your own judge. 

April 12, 2010 at 02:48 PM ·

I began to learn the violin in June 2009.  My teacher now wants me to start using my metronome while I am playing, and it is proving to be quite difficult.  I am able to play with other violinists and with pianos okay.  Perhaps there are some resources that could help?

April 12, 2010 at 02:51 PM ·

Should you ***be able*** to play with a metronome?  Absolutely yes!  

Should you train yourself to perform music with a metronomic (never accelerating or decelerating) beat?  Absolutely not!

The purpose of learning to ***be able*** to play with a metronome is so that one may perform with a beat that is musical - by which I mean not metronomic; a beat which (however subtly) accelerates and decelerates in reaction to the feeling and phrasing one wishes to convey. I tell my students: "Be able to play exactly with the metronome so that you may perform with absolutely correct rhythm in a way that sounds like you are **not** following a metronome!"   Such a performance is one in which the rhythm is correctly proportioned in each beat, while the beats are free to accelerate or decelerate.

In pursuing this ideal, here are some tips;

1. Before practicing any rhythm on the violin, be able to tap beats while speaking or singing the rhythm.  If you practice a rhythm on the violin when you haven't yet taught yourself to speak the rhythm while fitting it in to your tapping beats (or a metronome sounding beats), you may be inviting frustration!

2. When you are able to easily speak the correct rhythm while tapping beats, practice fitting the rhythm into your own gradually accelerating or decelerating beat.  When you can do that you *really* know the rhythm!  There is no rhythm without reference to beat.

3. When a student has trouble playing with metronome, it often turns out that the metronome is too quiet to be well heard over the violin!---As simple as that.--I've seen this many times.  All he needs to do is get a louder metronome, or stand closer to the metronome, or practice at a quieter dynamic level!




April 12, 2010 at 05:29 PM ·

I used to hate metronomes too. When I first started playing, I had a teacher who didn't require me to use one. I had a pretty good "internal" rhythm, and figured I didn't need one. Thennnn I started playing with an orchestra, and playing with piano accompaniments... all of a sudden like a slap in the face I was all over the place. Especially when it came to counting long rests and things like that. Let me tell you, the first orchestra I joined, if it weren't for a very understanding stand partner... well, you can imagine :) Learning to play with a metronome helped me to hear individual beats rather than simply "feel" the rhythm, and thus play appropriately when not-playing-alone.

If my opinion counts for anything, it's a pretty valuable skill.

April 12, 2010 at 09:26 PM ·

Since I'm a fiddler, I have to go off on a tangent; it's in the rules (at least the rules as I understand them).

How about not only a metronome, but playing along with some other beat? Get out the old Vinly copy of Dave Brubeck's 'Time Out' album, and play along!

April 12, 2010 at 09:26 PM ·

Duplicate: content deleted.

April 12, 2010 at 10:25 PM ·

If you want to play Classical music very well, developing a sense of inner pulse is one of the most important things you can do.  While I certainly do not advocate robot-playing, you cannot accurately play what's on the page if you don't develop some frame of reference. Once your fingers are trained to work exactly the way you (and the composer) intended, you can be more experimental with rubato and swinging.


Good luck!


April 12, 2010 at 11:05 PM ·

Use a metronome.

Otherwise you will end up sounding like me.



April 13, 2010 at 04:12 AM ·

Cool. I just chucked all mine out the window!


April 13, 2010 at 05:49 AM ·

Buri, go and get them back!

I did a little jazz gig on Sunday - the first in a few weeks, and in those few weeks what little practice i did was without a metronome. The gig was videoed, and i can see and hear that my time is rubbish!

I self prescribe two hours a day with a metronome, doing all the "leaving rests in consecutive spaces" exercises.



April 14, 2010 at 08:20 PM ·

"It's like eating vegetables and practicing scales, you just have to suck it up and endure. It will get easier if you keep after it."

Alayna you just made my day!  Your quote above made me laugh, but it is so true.  I'm a very beginner adult violin player and I am having the time of my life trying to learn to play the violin.  As for the metronome, well  . . . that is like spinach for some people.  :-)

I will definitely put more effort to learn how to play with the metronome after reading all of these posts.  Thanks!

Stephan you won't be alone on this one . . . Good luck!

April 14, 2010 at 11:57 PM ·

As a beginner I find that practicing with a metronome is extremely helpful. At first I got confused listening to the tempo and to myself. But about er... probably 2/3 weeks after starting it it became just something I had to get used to. Plus, when I'm playing without the metronome my division is really good compared to what is was before.

Sorry for my poor english btw.


April 15, 2010 at 01:19 AM ·

 The biggest thing about metronomes is they MAKE you wait.  i.e. it's usually really hard for people to play full notes, in a scale, without losing timing.  It's no so much timing, it's the patience portion. 


  most of timing issues is with patience concerning not moving along too fast, or overtly slowing down.  Timing is part of it, but the patience is the biggest portion IMO.

April 15, 2010 at 10:37 AM ·

Thank you for all the help..

And i do realize the importance of a metronome..After my last performance together with my music school in string quartet form..And indeed, it is a slap in the face when my teacher said that i'm not bad at playing solo, but you're terrible in playing together..

He said, it's fine when you play solo..But, have you ever thought when you have to play with an orchestra or in ensemble or maybe string quartet someday in the future..?

And so i end up practicing with metronome everyday..And, wow..It's not pretty bad to play with a metronome..

And thank you for all the help..


April 15, 2010 at 02:34 PM ·

 Another thought for those of you trying to get used to playing with a metronome and finding it hard - mine has an option where you see the little red dot flashing in time to the beat, but not making the loud noise. A more gentle interference.

Confession - I'm a metronome addict. I will often ask my teacher if she thinks I'm relying on it too much. (She says no.) I'm relieved to see no one is attacking the addiction in the way they might, say, to my chromatic tuner (ooh, an inflammatory subject if ever there was one). I think part of liking a metronome is the fact that I've been using it from day 1. Also, probably due to my past experience as a ballet dancer. I like being supported by something that holds the beat. I love the preciseness of it. Good point was made here about how it shouldn't interfere with the musicality when one is performing. But for learning? Dang, it's my buddy. 

April 15, 2010 at 02:43 PM ·

Interesting that Scott Cole mentioned timing rests and dotted notes... that is exactly how I have been directed recently to work with my Metronome.  And boy does it help in the above mentioned!!! At least for me!

April 15, 2010 at 03:05 PM ·


In another posting there was a discussion about the difference between amateurs and professionals. Working regularly with both, it's my experience that at the adult level, the gap widens when amateurs refuse to use a metronome. And it's in these areas--the accuracy of long note values, and dotted and tied rhythms--where the weaknesses occur. I think the later in life one attempts to gain rhythmic precision, the more one must use a metronome, or the ability to subdivide internally may never be developed.

Take heed, youngsters: do it now.


April 15, 2010 at 09:48 PM ·

@ Scott- You are a peer of my former maestros, Javier & Naomi... and what you say, I totaly AGREE!!!! Especially to younger ones! TAKE HEED!!!!! Listen to what Scott Cole has just imparted!

Yes I joke alot here! But this time I DO NOT!!!!! HE is SOOOOO CORRECT!

April 15, 2010 at 10:13 PM ·

The one item I haven't seen mentioned, but is obvious in some students' playing, is that a metronome can point out by how much a technical passage is lagging.  Sometimes the relief of being able to play a difficult passage at all makes people stop short of the effect intended.

April 15, 2010 at 10:37 PM ·

 Royce, oh go on....

No really, you're on a roll. Don't hold back!

Actually, I should add one more thing, something that is as or more effective than a metronome, but lots more trouble: a recorder. It's amazing what one can learn by hearing it all played back. There's so much more the 'nomes can't tell us, such as

•where we make false accents (or no accent when called for)

•when our vibrato isn't projecting

•if we've chosen a good tempo

•if the dynamics are really coming across

With the state of current digital recorders and the low prices, there's no excuse not to own one. 

We should all recognize that it is almost impossible to be objective about our own playing.


April 16, 2010 at 12:47 AM ·

 BE your own judge 

you can have your own little studio for a couple of hundreds , and save hundreds of more in teachers time.

the best way to correct your mistakes, whether in timing , intonation , emotion or bowing, is with a studio. A few hours in the studio saves you a hundred hours of practice time.

April 17, 2010 at 07:43 AM ·

I've been thinking about your post and the responses all week. And I can see where you're coming from but this is what I have learned...

All my life I've been kicking against the "correct" way of doing things. Always looking for the shortcut. Always trying to get by on the minimum effort. Over the years I've had a number of interests/hobbies: woodwork, design, cooking, photography, music etc.

What I've finally found out, 45 years into my journey on this earth, is that it is possible to "get by" on minimum effort. You can produce something that is superficially OK. But if you want to move beyond "OK" to "Good" or even "Brilliant" then you have to put the work in.

It is precisely because you find working with the metronome difficult that you should persevere with it.

In view of this thread I am off to get myself a metronome right away!

April 18, 2010 at 04:48 AM ·

Oh, you really need to learn to play with the metronome. The problem here is that we tend to think that our tempo is okay, which is not always true. If the piece is, say, slow, we tend to run because we run out of patience, if it's too fast we tend to slow down to figure out what to do or make pauses. Besides, we don't always respect the rests and have a hard time counting them, so... Yes, the metronome helps a lot!

And I second the comment about recording yourself... I usually do that when I think I'm starting to play something well - and then I see that I still have a lot to learn.

Good luck!

April 18, 2010 at 11:54 AM ·

 If people are having trouble keeping  up with a metronome a good trick is to count out loud for  two bars -then play to bars -stop- count 2 more then play two more and so on.. If your having trouble with two bars than bring it down to one bar, then count two .After a while add extra bars but always add 2 bars in there somewhere  BEFORE you loose your timing.

May 20, 2010 at 09:20 PM ·

Should you be able to play with a metronome? Absolutely.

But that doesn't mean you have to use one all the time. It's definitely an important tool, though. Once you get comfortable with using a metronome, then it becomes easier to follow "your own beat" when you're playing it for yourself, with your interpretation. It provides parameters with which you can give and take with notes, and the rhythm. Learning to use one is an important base step for playing any musical instrument.

Now, I have to go dig mine out from wherever I've hidden it...... :)

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