Counting with a metronome might not be the most enthralling way to spend an hour’s practice, but it’s benefits extend much further than you would imagine, especially for those beginners starting out and learning the fundamentals of rhythm and pulse!
Rhythm can seem one of the most alien elements of music in the early stages of learning. This might seem the case when we attempt to measure out the lengths of time that we hold notes for and then attribute names to these values (crotchet, minim etc.) This might all seem a little backward when the rhythm is in actuality one of the most natural, and integral parts of our makeup.
Even little kids only a couple of months old can be caught bobbing along to the rhythm, whether in time or not – certainly aware of the beat. This time keeping helps athletes keep control of the ball, a dancer keeps time with the beat, and even video gamers keep control of the game on the screen. This timing system helps to describe more than just the physical, and this coordination filters through into many aspects of life. Feeling the beat is something that we can all nourish, and where better to develop this essential skill than through the medium of music.
So next time you’re playing with a metronome, try to feel the beat and to understand the importance of timing. Don’t try to hear the click-clack of the machine telling you when to play in time. Use the practice wisely to feel and understand where the beat lies. This will inform your playing much more, and you will be able to give emphasis to more important musical moments if you train this rhythmic ear.
Time is integral – train it well.