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  • The Metronome

    Hi all

    For the last couple of years, I have been increasingly fond of practising with a metronome.
    When used in a good way, I think it can actually sharpen your focus, in your practice and fingerwork.

    I will say that using the metronome, has improved my playing, over the years. I sometimes think, that I wished that I had started to use it sooner.

    And maby most important, it can force you to practice slowly.

    I came across this article, which I think highlights the benefits.

    Although it is often misused and disliked by beginner music students, a metronome can be the ear trainer's best friend. Let's look at some of the ways you


    So, what is everyone else's experience?

  • #2
    Great article!! I've struggled with the use of a metronome for decades and finally am making peace with it. My mother, my first music teacher, insisted that one should never play with the metronome, merely listen to it for the beat, turn it off, and then play. Our pipe major says to focus on the notes and no crossing noises, not concerning oneself with the timing. My harp instructor strongly urges the frequent use of the metronome which I'm trying to do. I know I tend to speed up so this is quite challenging but well worth pursuing. The prize of having that rock-solid internal sense of rhythm is worth striving to achieve!!

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    • #3
      The metronome is as important to learning music as meter is to music. It's fundamental.
      If you're learning a musical instrument, like a bagpipe, use the metronome.

      Comment


      • #4
        You could write chapter and verse on what the metronome should and shouldn't be used for, but I'm not sure anyone ever reads it, or listens.

        I will say, though, I think the piping world's fixation with "get the notes right and then sort the timing out" is one of the reasons so many pipers struggle to make it beyond the elementary stage.
        http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
        -- Formerly known as CalumII

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        • #5
          I wouldn't describe it as a fixation to get the notes right...after all .THAT in itself is a given..an absolute must.
          Having committed the notes dots.. and associated phrasing... to rote...more precise timing innuendo can more readily,accurately and smoothly be addressed.
          No can do without knowing the notes first ....or at least in close tandem.
          Last edited by el gaitero; 03-15-2023, 02:29 PM.

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          • #6
            All good points above; and too few use a metronome. I see way too many bands that play blistering through tunes, destroying any concept of music. And I just hazard a guess that nobody in that band is using a metronome. I also blame the P/M for calling off such ridiculous and ear cringing tempos.

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            • #7
              Well said everyone.
              I totally agree.

              I sometimes see a kind resistance, well "fright" maby even, when someone is asked to play to a metronome. And after some time of doing it, most people actually come to like it (at least in my experience) and get some improvement out of it.
              but most people need a little, but firm push to begin to proactively use the metronome.

              And especially when playing in a band. Whitout a good practice and understanding of tempo, beat and rythm - wont it be impossible to get ensemble to work?

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              • #8
                IF the ensemble is a small one and IF there is one member who is an alpha player with strong rhythm and IF the others in the group are willing to listen and follow, it might work out. Things can fall apart if any of those IFs are missing.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by johnsog View Post
                  IF the ensemble is a small one and IF there is one member who is an alpha player with strong rhythm and IF the others in the group are willing to listen and follow, it might work out. Things can fall apart if any of those IFs are missing.
                  Our band does a lot of chanters and pads practicing before moving onto pipes and drums. And all are done with a metronome, which also includes solos, duets, etc., again with metronome. As for "alpha player with strong rhythm", it's more teamwork, especially of the P/M (e.g., calling off proper tempos), bass drummer (keeping it and expressing good idiom) and lead stroke. We also have drum scores written for each tune, and we work a lot on the pipers listening to both the side score and bass drum.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jens Olsen View Post
                    Well said everyone.
                    I totally agree.

                    I sometimes see a kind resistance, well "fright" maby even, when someone is asked to play to a metronome. And after some time of doing it, most people actually come to like it (at least in my experience) and get some improvement out of it.
                    but most people need a little, but firm push to begin to proactively use the metronome.

                    And especially when playing in a band. Whitout a good practice and understanding of tempo, beat and rythm - wont it be impossible to get ensemble to work?
                    From a bass drummer's point of view, a metronome during new tune chanter practice for the pipers around a table is pretty illuminating on how many struggle to stay within the same zip code of the beat. From my perspective it's interesting to watch how a piper (or an entire pipe corps) will speed through the part that they are comfortable with, and slow down in a more difficult section, all the while convinced that they kept a steady beat the whole time. Metronomes are good, even we bass drummers use them when the bpm's are noted for specific tunes in a medley to get it into muscle memory.

                    Margaret

                    Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Margaret View Post

                      From a bass drummer's point of view, a metronome during new tune chanter practice for the pipers around a table is pretty illuminating on how many struggle to stay within the same zip code of the beat. From my perspective it's interesting to watch how a piper (or an entire pipe corps) will speed through the part that they are comfortable with, and slow down in a more difficult section, all the while convinced that they kept a steady beat the whole time. Metronomes are good, even we bass drummers use them when the bpm's are noted for specific tunes in a medley to get it into muscle memory.
                      Great point.
                      As you say, some pipes slow down.
                      More often tough (very often), I have also seen pipes speeding up in difficult phrases.
                      It is actually counter-intuitive, and maby it tells that people cant "relax properly" in the music., and a sort of "panic-state" kicks in, and people rush though whitout totally crontrol.
                      This is where the strength of a slower metronome is really usefulll.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My pipers often crank up with Highland Cathedral without the drums while we continue in the kitchen (where else do you put drummers?) on the pads and try to play along. It is AMAZING how bad the timing can be- nearly impossible to play the standard " tap- tapitty tap- tapitty tap-tapitty tapitty tapitty tap" setting everyone knows for that piece There are just too many long notes for the pipers to stay steady on their own.

                        After a workshop with a Grade 1 Texas piper, the pipe major has recently started using the metronome during chanter practice which seems to help although several pipers complain of it's distraction.
                        Loud is Easy, Soft is Hard

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                        • #13
                          A Very Partial
                          Originally posted by Margaret

                          ... a metronome during new tune chanter practice for the pipers around a table
                          is pretty illuminating...
                          ...on how many struggle.... to stay within the same zip code... of the beat.

                          Ah... "within the same zip code of the beat." :-)

                          Marvelous turn of phrase!! :-)

                          Thank you!!... Margaret!! :-)
                          My friends all know,
                          With what a brave carouse...

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                          • #14
                            I remember a PM giving a workshop and saying that when he started using a metronome, he was initially convinced that it was broken and couldn't keep a proper beat . . .

                            Andrew
                            Andrew T. Lenz, Jr. BDF Moderator
                            BagpipeJourney.com - Reference for Bagpipers

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Andrew Lenz View Post
                              I remember a PM giving a workshop and saying that when he started using a metronome, he was initially convinced that it was broken and couldn't keep a proper beat . . .

                              Andrew
                              I've yet to find a metronome that keeps steady time, and I've tried dozens! ;-)

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