Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice?

Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 01:35 PM

I'm looking to get my 1st metronome. I always assumed they just clicked the time, but I see that some of them also chime in addition to the clicking??? I'm wondering how big a difference this makes in using it. Is the chime feature really an advantage or just an extra that's not a big deal? Or am I just not understanding the descriptions I've looked at so far? I'm looking to get the traditional looking wooden case wind-up/pendulum kind. Thanks.
Posted by: Vonette

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 01:38 PM

I think it's a matter of personal preference. My first metronome had the chime, and I used it and found it helpful when working with difficult rhythms because it confirmed the count that I was trying to keep in my head. My current metronome does not have the chime, but since I mostly use it to confirm tempo and practice scales nowadays, I don't miss it.

I like the wind-up wooden ones too. Mine is a Wittner. They are pricey, but I got a great deal on a used one on ebay. Maybe you can, too!
Posted by: Roxy

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 01:46 PM

The only kind of metranome that I reccommend is a Wittner made in West Germany. You should never have to get another if you don't overwind it as some people are prone to do. Seth Thomas used to be the ones made in the U.S. by a clock maker and they were wonderful and somewhat affordable however they sold out to a Chinese company and the insides are made with plastic parts. They break down and you have to ship them back to the company, (paying for it yourself of course)3 to 5 monthes later you get it back for almost the cost of a new one. Just not worth the hassle. You want a metranome with an arm because just like a conductor in an orchestra you can see the movement from the corner of your eye and you ability to stay with it is easier and your playing is not so choppy because you can musically anticipate it because of the motion not just the sound. If you like to sub-divide the beats and feel less beats per measure and or have trouble doing that the bell is nice but not necessary. Happy shopping.
Posted by: ProdigalPianist

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 01:50 PM

I wish someone made one that combined the look of the old wooden ones with the internal mechanism of the digital ones.

My ancient beat-up plastic one (it looks like the old wooden ones but it's plastic cause my parents couldn't afford a wooden one 30 years ago) is shot...the beat is way uneven, etc.

My modern one is small and works great and is great to throw in a bag to take to practice rooms or wherever (and is also a digital tuner)...but it just doesn't look as 'right' as a wooden metronome...
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 02:09 PM

Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist


My modern one is small and works great and is great to throw in a bag to take to practice rooms or wherever (and is also a digital tuner)...but it just doesn't look as 'right' as a wooden metronome...


That's a concern for me because this is going to be sitting on top a 100+yr-old piano.
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 02:21 PM

Also, how long does a metronome last if it was good quality and taken care of? It would be nice to get a new one, but if I go for used I can get one much sooner since what I think I want seems to run around $100 new.

And if I went for used would a Seth Thomas marked as made in USA not have plastic parts? I'm assuming the Chinese company moved production to China, right?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 02:30 PM

The windup ones do not last nor work as well as the digital ones. The digital ones are so small that their appearance is not an issue. I have a Wittner Taktell electronic which is basic, but has served my purposes well for over 15 years.
Posted by: Vonette

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 04:01 PM

A good brand of wind-up metronone that is not abused can last for a long time. My first metronome (made by Yamaha I think?) belonged to my sister before me for several years. Then, I used it for a couple of decades more until my own kids (when they were toddlers) got hold of it and destroyed it. I also had a digital that I used in college because it was easier to carry around to practice rooms. That one got lost sometime after I graduated. Digitals are much easier to lose because of their small size. If you want to be as precise as a computer when you are playing, then the digitals are more accurate. Most people are happy with the accuracy of a good pendulum model, and you don't have to worry about buying batteries.
Posted by: Deerwood Dad

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 04:09 PM

Little Blue Engine:

I purchased this model, and it works just great. It's about the size of a deck of cards and is portable. I've used it over two years without having to change batteries yet. No regrets.

http://www.amazon.com/Seiko-SQ50-V-Quart...6423887-0302203

Good luck.
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 04:37 PM

Boss makes some very good electronic metronomes. I have one of their more complex models that is capable of producing all kinds of rhythmic patterns. Personally, I would stay away from wind up units--the electronic ones are more and forever accurate, more capable, usually smaller and lighter, and usually cheaper.
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 05:42 PM

I found a metronome app in the itunes store. Thought that might be a good, quick, cheap option but it only works for ipod touch & iphone. frown
Posted by: Seeker

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 05:56 PM

I have the Yamaha QT metronome. It looks kind of like a flying saucer. It will not hurt your piano. You can take it with you if you play gigs or rehearse anyplace but your own house or studio. Best of all, it's got a nice LOUD click with an adjustable volume control. And being controlled by a quartz crystal, it's more accurate than any wind-up mechanical metronome, and it doesn't have any moving parts (other than the electrons in the oscillator and the speaker cone moving out to produce the clicks).

http://www.yamaha.com/yamahavgn/CDA/ContentDetail/accessorydetail.html?CNTID=48713&CTID=560584
Posted by: John Pels

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/25/09 10:57 PM

The best value out there and recommended to all of my students is the Matrix MR 600. The cost online is around $40. It has a rotating dial to select the tempo and one more important feature... a volume control. They are usually available locally for around $50. They last seemingly forever. I have quite a collection of metronomes. There is little accuracy in wind-ups and frankly I got tired of the winding. I also have a few electrics dating back to the early 60's. It outperforms them all.
Posted by: Mr. McFugue

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/26/09 02:06 AM

You might be interested in the Body Beat at www.petersontuners.com
Posted by: Vonette

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/26/09 02:28 AM

Wow, so many people trying to talk you into a digital/electronic metronome even though you prefer the pendulum metronome! Well, I agree with you that a fine wooden-cased pendulum will look very nice on your 100-year-old piano. I also agree with the person who found it helpful to anticipate the beat by seeing the swing of the pendulum -- you just don't get that with a digital.

I am a visual person (the type that has to have a map to look at rather than written out directions), and I feel there is an aesthetic (even artistic) quality to the pendulums that is simply missing in the others. I also far prefer a watch or clock with hands to a digital model. (My husband has a fancy digital watch that links up to a satellite to keep it accurate to the second. I'm content to adjust my face watch now and then if it gets a minute off -- and that really doesn't happen more than once a year anyway!) Digital clocks and digital metronomes meet a need (for portability and affordable accuracy), but my house would never feel like home without some lovely face clocks and my pendulum metronome sitting atop my piano.
Posted by: SophieM

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/26/09 11:08 AM

Are there electric metronoms that do not sound piercing?

Though I love the sound of my good old Wittner and like the fact that I don't need to buy a battery for it, it does not seem particularly accurate. Thanks!
Posted by: J_N

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/26/09 11:41 AM

if you have a computer near by, you can use online metronomes... should be as accurate as digital ones... and I've also found an application for mobile phones (http://www.metronomeonline.com/)

and I personally don't like the chime... it's used to tell you when the first beat is, but I think it's unnecessary and switch it off...

and last but not least, take the metronome you like... you don't have to be 100 % accurate, you're a human being, not a machine... and I think a good mechanical metronome is as useful as an electronic smile and if you like it, you'll probably like practicing with it more wink
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/26/09 12:19 PM

Originally Posted By: SophieM
Are there electric metronoms that do not sound piercing?


Yes--my Boss, as an example, has a volume control and has a selection of different sounds the metronome can make, one of which sounds very much like the old wind up metronomes.
Posted by: SophieM

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/26/09 12:32 PM

Thanks, Roy123. Will you post the model number for the one you have?
Posted by: EightyEightFingers

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/26/09 04:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Little_Blue_Engine
Is the chime feature really an advantage or just an extra that's not a big deal?

To answer your question, I have the version with the bell (Wittner #816) and find it very useful when first learning a new work as the chime indicates the downbeat. Playing with a standard metronome, if I accidentally drop a beat from a measure I don't always realize it right away. You can adjust the number of beats between "chimes" or turn the bell off completely and use it like a standard metronome.

In terms of mechanical vs. electronic, in my experience the two biggest advantages of an electronic device are: 1) it can deliver more complicated rhythms than a mechanical device and 2) some feature a flashing light so you can use them silently.

On the other hand, you just can't beat (excuse the pun) the visual cue of the swinging pendulum as you play along with a mechanical device.

The mechanical metronome I used during my first piano lesson as a child was a family heirloom of undetermined age. Now my sister has it and uses it to teach piano lessons. The notches are worn flat from use but it marks time as well as ever.

I'm sure a quartz crystal is more accurate than a wind-up mechanism but I'm skeptical the difference is relevant or even discernable in non-laboratory conditions.

I wouldn't rule out buying an additional electronic metronome some day for portability and silent operation, but I think you'll be perfectly happy with a Wittner for a long, long time.
Posted by: Nikalette

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/28/09 01:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Little_Blue_Engine
I found a metronome app in the itunes store. Thought that might be a good, quick, cheap option but it only works for ipod touch & iphone. frown


I have a bigger one that has a human voice option. It would probably drive a lot of people nuts, but for some pieces, hearing the numbers read outloud helps.

Then I have the Korg digital one with a foldover case because it has a nice little visual feature on it. Problem is the external speaker broke soon after purchase, but it still works on headphones.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/28/09 01:57 PM

Quote:
I'm sure a quartz crystal is more accurate than a wind-up mechanism but I'm skeptical the difference is relevant or even discernable in non-laboratory conditions.

Pendulum metronomes tend to "limp", swinging to one side faster than the other due to friction, uneven placement or other irregularities. This is quite noticeable.
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/28/09 02:55 PM

Originally Posted By: SophieM
Thanks, Roy123. Will you post the model number for the one you have?

I have a Boss DB90. It has more bells and whistles than I need, but I happened to find one at a great price. I suspect one of their cheaper models would have what you want.
Posted by: Davinci

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/28/09 10:15 PM

Little Blue Engine hope you don’t mind I’m hopping on your post, I’m also getting my 1st metronome.

I’m also concerned that digital metronome may sound piercing. I didn’t seem to read about anyone describing how their metronome sound. Can anyone describe a bit on the brand that’s mentioned? Maybe I’m not making sense here but I’m kinda picky on what I hear though.

I do like the idea of the pendulum but I don’t like the pyramid shape. I need one that I can bring around and very durable(because I drop my stuff often). How’s Wittner in terms of quality and sound? Or any other that’s best value for money?

Does one buy a metronome like buying a piano too?
Posted by: Stevester

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/28/09 10:17 PM

Matrix MR 600 - This model is quartz and you can adjust it while it is clicking so you can play with times to push yourself or back off as needed. It has a volume control which I find very important as I need it louder at my teachers house than at mine. I run it at 2/4 time quite a bit when working on 4/4 as it splits the piece up. A model like this is easy to take with for lessons and it was saving me time instead of working with my teacher's.

As John states above, great little machine, I have dropped it more than once and it keeps working great. I love it, best thing since sliced bread.

Availabe on line for peanuts.
Posted by: al_spinner

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/28/09 11:13 PM

I second the Wittner recommendation if you would like to buy a traditional/wind-up kind. I bought one a couple of years ago and am pleased with the build quality. I like that it does not need batteries, and how I am able to see the swing of the arm on each beat. If you do get one though, be careful with it! I know some pianists who have dropped theirs repeatedly on the ground out of carelessness and it definitely affected the steadiness of the mechanism.
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 10:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Davinci
Little Blue Engine hope you don’t mind I’m hopping on your post, I’m also getting my 1st metronome.


The more the merrier!
Posted by: EightyEightFingers

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 10:42 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Quote:
I'm sure a quartz crystal is more accurate than a wind-up mechanism but I'm skeptical the difference is relevant or even discernable in non-laboratory conditions.

Pendulum metronomes tend to "limp", swinging to one side faster than the other due to friction, uneven placement or other irregularities. This is quite noticeable.


Maybe I've just been lucky but I've never run into this (I think saying a pendulum metronome requires a level surface is a bit like saying an electronic one requires batteries... but I understand your point.) If you're practicing on a piano that's irregularly shaped, or placed on a sloping floor or a hillside, this could be a factor.

I agree with you these issues exist but I'm still skeptical anyone could listen to a performance and discern whether the pianist practiced with a pendulum metronome rather than a super-accurate electronic version.

Your mileage may vary.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 11:01 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Quote:
I'm sure a quartz crystal is more accurate than a wind-up mechanism but I'm skeptical the difference is relevant or even discernable in non-laboratory conditions.

Pendulum metronomes tend to "limp", swinging to one side faster than the other due to friction, uneven placement or other irregularities. This is quite noticeable.


There was a study I read about where a laboratory tested pendulum metronomes with a radar detector, and they found that the beat was slightly irregular.

Whether or not that will affect your playing, I think it will. I am of the opinion that if using a tempo-teaching device, be it a metronome or a drum machine (I use both), I want the most accurate one available.

The reason is that no matter what I learn from, my playing will probably be less accurate that that. If I learn from a standard of 100% perfection, (assuming a digital metronome is that) then my results will be less than that. If I learn from a pendulum that is irregular, then my playing will even less.

Put it this way...if digital metronomes were the only ones available, and you had a choice between one that was 100% accurate, and one that was not, would you really choose the inaccurate one?
Posted by: apple*

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 11:14 AM

sure.. aesthetics matter.

a properly working Wittner is certainly accurate enough for the human ear, even a fine musician's

it is important btw to develop one's inner metronome. (try guessing the metronome setting on any tempo).

(I don't use my Wittner - i have it way up on a shelf so the kids won't touch it. It works perfectly and my mom bought it used in about 1968).

I find my digital quite handy tho it doesn't look all that great cluttering up my piano.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 11:55 AM

Originally Posted By: apple*

it is important btw to develop one's inner metronome.


Isn't that the ultimate purpose of a metronome?
Posted by: apple*

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 11:56 AM

it sure helps~!
Posted by: Davinci

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 12:25 PM

Actually my vocal teacher taught me to listen to bass/drum beats to develop my inner metronome which I've been doing for the past years. But recently I can no longer be accurate. The more I try the more I'm off in counting. I just get lost somewhere and getting a metronome is my last resort though.
Posted by: EightyEightFingers

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 12:34 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Put it this way...if digital metronomes were the only ones available, and you had a choice between one that was 100% accurate, and one that was not, would you really choose the inaccurate one?

Ah, but what is 100% accurate? Certainly not a quartz-based metronome.

For ease of comparison, let's say a metronome pendulum oscillates once per second. A quartz metronome has 10-thousand oscillations per second so it's inherently 10-thousand times more accurate.

You say, why would anyone choose the inaccurate one...

Well, a caesium-133 atomic clock has 9 billion oscillations per second. That's 9-hundred-thousand times more accurate than your quartz-based electronic metronome.

Who would want to practice with quartz metronome if it's nearly a MILLION times less accurate than an atomic one?

Don't answer yet... because hypothetically a strontium atomic clock would oscillate 429 trillion times per second. Your quartz-based electronic metronome is 43 BILLION times less accurate than that.

The point of all this is to illustrate that at some point the refinements in accuracy cease to have an impact on the device's practical application: keeping time at a rate ranging between 40 and 208 beats per minute. There's no argument; the increased accuracy is real and measurable (you mention the laboratory test with a radar detector). It just doesn't matter.

I like seeing the pendulum swing as I play. I like the resonant clicking sound it makes. I like the form factor. I like avoiding batteries. If you prefer a device with a flashing light, an earphone jack, a variety of tones and beeps, and the ability to mark complicated rhythms, then by all means choose an electronic one.

All I'm saying is choose between the two because of the practical features you like or dislike. In my experience, the increased precision of the electronic version doesn't make it any more useful - because the difference can't be discerned outside a laboratory setting.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 12:48 PM

Originally Posted By: EightyEightFingers
Ah, but what is 100% accurate? Certainly not a quartz-based metronome.

You are right...I should have chosen a different term from "100% accurate".

I should have said something like, "potential varying degrees of inaccuracy (pendulum) to accurate enough (quartz)"

Originally Posted By: EightyEightFingers
In my experience, the increased precision of the electronic version doesn't make it any more useful - because the difference can't be discerned outside a laboratory setting.


Yes it can...I have witnessed old pendulum metronomes that were clearly "wobbly" in the beat.

Also, there is a limitation to having to physically see the pendulum swing, or the light blink, or whatever. Take it away, (by placing the metronome out of sight), and you have lost one of your beat cues.

The stronger your inner beat, the less you need to rely on those, although they are helpful to develop one's beat, kind of like training wheels.

Having said that, I do like pendulum metronomes for their aesthetic value.
Posted by: John Pels

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 05:38 PM

If I had a dollar for every student that came to me over the years with a wind-up metronome that beat unevenly, I could likely be able to retire. There was a time that I fixed them for my students just so they would have something quasi accurate to use. At this point, if the wind-up metronome beats evenly I will roll with it, if it beats unevenly, I just tell the parents it has outlived its usefulness and it's time to upgrade. Model T's will likely get you to the grocery store as well as a new Corvette, but you might not like the bouncy ride, the lousy brakes and no A/C. You might not like to start it with a crank. C'mon gang, for 40 bucks you get an accurate workhorse with a volume control. There is nothing here worth fighting about. I keep all of the period pieces on the shelf. They are nice curiosities. A metronome is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. It helps keep accurate time and it helps to gradually increase tempo. All it needs to do is beat evenly. I bought an electronic metronome kit back in grad school. I assembled it into the plastic case that the parts and PC board came in. It cost me 5 bucks way back when. I used it all through grad school and beyond. It still works and beats evenly and still has the 25 year old battery that also still works. Go figure! I bought the MR 600 Matrix because my venerable kit was such an eyesore, functional but ugly, good for a college student, but heck, if I can afford the mortgage, I can afford a new metronome. My prof in grad also had a nice electronic that he used. He made his money selling records and now CD's.Teaching was adjunct to his performing career. If electronic was good enough for him, it is surely good enough for the rest of us. I never heard him invoke any nonsense about needing to see the pendulum move and anticipating the beat or anything else. If I can get the average level 2B kid to use an electronic metronome, I would bet most listers could as well...without all of the excuses.

88 fingers, your analogy about flat surface vs. batteries is terribly flawed. It assumes that the pendulum metronome has never, nor will ever be dropped. When it has been dropped all sorts of neat things can happen...mostly bad. I can't tell you how many wind-ups I have had to place spacers under one side to get it to beat remotely accurately. As to the performance...well if you have a metronome that beats cockeyed, then you likely will never get to the performance stage, because of your general frustration. The real purpose of the metronome is to be able to discern a tempo from a composer's reference and to gradually increase tempo while maintaining evenness. If you have a pendulum metronome in great condition it will of course do that. Age, lack of lubrication and general maintenance coupled with doing it physical harm, will render it junk. I was gifted one at the age of 6 and used it until it was stolen in undergrad from my practice room. I never had a problem with it, but I took good care of it. It took me from John Thompson to the Tchaikowski Concerto. It was great 45 years ago when virtually nothing else was available. Such is not the case today.

Horses and carriages were OK, Model T's were OK, but technology has thankfully marched on...and I'm not a youngster by any means. I'll take the late-model sports car to the horse and buggy any day.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 06:23 PM

"I like seeing the pendulum swing as I play. I like the resonant clicking sound it makes. I like the form factor. I like avoiding batteries."

Yeah... I'm with you on all that, 88. I love mechanical clocks, with pendulums and counterweights, chimes, cuckoos, ticks, personality, whirring sounds; things lovingly and cleverly devised by hands. (My piano tuner doesn't love them quite so well, but he doesn't complain.)

But, I have a little quartz metronome that goes in my bookbag and never gives trouble... and I wear a quartz watch. It serves the purpose, and that's all I wish of it. I have a real piano, though--- there, I draw the line.
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 06:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Little_Blue_Engine
I'm looking to get my 1st metronome. I always assumed they just clicked the time, but I see that some of them also chime in addition to the clicking??? I'm wondering how big a difference this makes in using it. Is the chime feature really an advantage or just an extra that's not a big deal? Or am I just not understanding the descriptions I've looked at so far? I'm looking to get the traditional looking wooden case wind-up/pendulum kind. Thanks.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Wittner (I would love to have one, but really don't need it), I would consider an electronic metronome in addition to the mechanical one for portability's sake.

I personally only use a metronome for practicing scales, arpeggios, and Hanon. I dislike even practicing actual pieces of music to a metronome, preferring to instead discipline myself to hold a steady pulse. To that end, my no-frills electronic metronome has served me just fine. YMMV. smile
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 09:14 PM

I strongly endorse what John Pels said, above. I had a Mini-Taktell and had to spend five minutes at the beginning of each practice session putting cards or pieces of paper under one side or the other to get it to beat evenly.

I have had one slightly irregular electronic metronome, but that was over 40 years ago.

If you're worried about the metronome having a piercing sound, see if you can try one out in a music store first.

A metronome is a tool. I hope you manage to get good use out of whichever one you choose.
Posted by: SophieM

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 10:46 PM

Thanks! I will check it out. smile

I actually really enjoy using my metronome for everything. I seem more motivated when I use it -- great way to chart one's progress when bringing a piece to speed! grin
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 10:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
I personally only use a metronome for practicing scales, arpeggios, and Hanon. I dislike even practicing actual pieces of music to a metronome, preferring to instead discipline myself to hold a steady pulse. To that end, my no-frills electronic metronome has served me just fine. YMMV. smile


Thats right... useing a metronome for practicing scales, arpeggios, and Hanon will build into your musical brain tempo control, which will, after time, positively affect your playing so you can play without tempo fluctuations.
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 11:04 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
I personally only use a metronome for practicing scales, arpeggios, and Hanon. I dislike even practicing actual pieces of music to a metronome, preferring to instead discipline myself to hold a steady pulse. To that end, my no-frills electronic metronome has served me just fine. YMMV. smile


Thats right... useing a metronome for practicing scales, arpeggios, and Hanon will build into your musical brain tempo control, which will, after time, positively affect your playing so you can play without tempo fluctuations.


This is pretty much what I expect to use the metronome for. I seem to have a decent internal sense of timing. When I'm working on an actual song I can keep things pretty even so long as I can listen to a recording of it and I've got the fingering down OK. Most of the music I'm messing around with is pop/rock stuff and I find that if I "listen" to the lyrics/vocal part in my head while I'm playing I can keep pretty close to where I belong. It's usually the coordination thing that really fouls me up.
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/29/09 11:28 PM

I'm with John Pels on the value of a good electronic.

Life's too short to mess with stuff that's error-prone.
Posted by: John Pels

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/30/09 01:11 AM

Anyone that honestly believes that metronomes are only good for scales and Hanon needs to re-evaluate. Serious pianists use them daily to gradually increase tempo without adding rhythmic anomalies within virtuosic passagework. THAT is the purpose. Anyone can make themselves believe that almost anything is correct rhythmically with their "internal metronomes". Metronomes keep you honest. Anyone that has taught piano knows that one of the most useful tools for the young pianist is counting out loud. It is only then that that "internal metronome" gets some discipline. For 35 years I have been getting the comment "I am counting in my head, so I don't have to count out loud". Invariably the rhythm is totally wacked. Record the playing.The results will invariably speak for themselves. Students are always amazed at how far off they are.

Metronomes are the serious pianist's best friend. When you get to the point that you can actually listen to yourself from almost a third party perspective, you will apprehend the anomalies that occur within the beat. Rhythmic anomalies are the doom of technique. Many folks bemoan the fact that "I don't play like Horowitz or Kissin" or pick your virtuoso. Admittedly there are basic talent issues involved, but there is also a discipline involved. If you don't work like the masters, you won't play like the masters. It is the discipline that makes absolutely sure that all of the beats are where they belong. And now of course I guess I will be deluged with some detractors that imply that working with a metronome will yield a mechanical performance. That is balderdash as well, and I have NEVER been accused of that on my worst day.

Why am I on a tear today? Because I have been working for hours with a metronome on a section of the Rachmaninoff Suite Op 17 and it is getting better by degrees. It always does when I work this way. There is no magic to getting a good result at the piano. It is one of the most highly disciplined mental activities on the planet. So, I will reitterate, if concert-pianists have no trouble using them daily(and not only in scales and Hanon), why should we?

Obviously if you are playing non-technical passages there is less need for a metronome.
Posted by: EightyEightFingers

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/30/09 01:13 AM

Originally Posted By: John Pels
The real purpose of the metronome is to be able to discern a tempo from a composer's reference and to gradually increase tempo while maintaining evenness. If you have a pendulum metronome in great condition it will of course do that.

Exactly my point, John. I think we're mostly in agreement here. My original allegation was simply that the greater inherent accuracy of a quartz movement vs. a pendulum isn't a relevant deciding factor between the two devices. I stand by that.

People keep mentioning all the broken, dropped, and damaged mechanical metronomes they've seen. But if you drop your piano, that probably won't do it much good either. Even an electronic metronome probably would be done-in by the right drop on the wrong surface. I think you have to compare properly working mechanical metronomes with properly working electronic ones.

That said, the caveats you've noted are all valid: you must place it on a level surface, you have to properly maintain it, you have to treat it delicately and avoid dropping it, if it doesn't beat evenly you need to have it repaired. If all that sounds like too much fussiness, then by all means choose an electronic device. As I said, choose between the two because of the practical features you like or dislike. Shock resistance and portability are important practical features and the electronic devices are undoubtedly superior in those regards.
Posted by: apple*

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/30/09 08:40 AM

it is also fun to play with the metronome. for instance try playing a piece written in 4/4 time with the beat sounding on the 2nd or 4th beat.. ot perhaps try playing a measure and 1st beat of the next measure counting in 5/4 time, moving on the next measure again and again.. these type of things really solidify your mastery of the notes.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/30/09 12:24 PM

A couple of years ago my hubby asked what I wanted for my birthday, and I told him "a metronome." He was confused by the choices and bought me two, a wind-up Wittner and a digital metronome. I tried both out for a while but have long since defaulted to using only the Wittner. It's got a soul-satisfying deep "thock thock" sound that is much more pleasing to my ear than the electronic beep of the digital metronome. I also find the visual cue of the pendulum quite helpful.

Buy the metronome you like the sounds and looks of the best. You'll use it more if you like it, and that's the whole point. thumb
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/30/09 12:33 PM

Originally Posted By: John Pels
Anyone that honestly believes that metronomes are only good for scales and Hanon needs to re-evaluate. Serious pianists use them daily to gradually increase tempo without adding rhythmic anomalies within virtuosic passagework. THAT is the purpose. Anyone can make themselves believe that almost anything is correct rhythmically with their "internal metronomes". Metronomes keep you honest. Anyone that has taught piano knows that one of the most useful tools for the young pianist is counting out loud. It is only then that that "internal metronome" gets some discipline. For 35 years I have been getting the comment "I am counting in my head, so I don't have to count out loud". Invariably the rhythm is totally wacked. Record the playing.The results will invariably speak for themselves. Students are always amazed at how far off they are.

Metronomes are the serious pianist's best friend. When you get to the point that you can actually listen to yourself from almost a third party perspective, you will apprehend the anomalies that occur within the beat. Rhythmic anomalies are the doom of technique. Many folks bemoan the fact that "I don't play like Horowitz or Kissin" or pick your virtuoso. Admittedly there are basic talent issues involved, but there is also a discipline involved. If you don't work like the masters, you won't play like the masters. It is the discipline that makes absolutely sure that all of the beats are where they belong. And now of course I guess I will be deluged with some detractors that imply that working with a metronome will yield a mechanical performance. That is balderdash as well, and I have NEVER been accused of that on my worst day.

Why am I on a tear today? Because I have been working for hours with a metronome on a section of the Rachmaninoff Suite Op 17 and it is getting better by degrees. It always does when I work this way. There is no magic to getting a good result at the piano. It is one of the most highly disciplined mental activities on the planet. So, I will reitterate, if concert-pianists have no trouble using them daily(and not only in scales and Hanon), why should we?

Obviously if you are playing non-technical passages there is less need for a metronome.


John, your point is well taken. I have used a metronome with pieces when I really need it. What I'm saying is that for the most part I find that I don't need it. And I don't get complaints about my tempi much from my teacher; who certainly lets me know when I have problems. I have personally derived the most benefit from the metronome with the scales and all that as well as in that Bach Invention #8. But YMMV! smile
Posted by: apple*

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/30/09 03:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Monica K.
It's got a soul-satisfying deep "thock thock" sound thumb

well said Monica!

i like the thock.. my digital is way tooo loud and irritating - i have to wrap it in a towel.
Posted by: John Pels

Re: Shopping for my 1st metronome...advice? - 06/30/09 03:53 PM

Yes ladies, the electronics can be annoying, but that's why I recommended the one with a volume control (Matrix MR 600). I guarantee that its "thock" is very much what we had become accustomed to with the mechanicals. I have two students, one with a Seiko and one a smaller Matrix. Both have small speakers mounted on the front and both openings have been closed as well as possible with masking tape. I don't know if manufacturers never focus group these products or what, but I hate them and my students do as well because the tone is so annoying. The masking tape looks ugly, but the metronomes are now more pleasing to(not)listen to. This is why I prefer to buy the metronomes for my students. I get what is best for them, and there is no adversity to the sound and they acclimate quickly. Likewise, there are some models with too many bells and whistles. Then it gets relegated to the toy category and there are too many distractions, and it doesn't get used in its basic mode. The difference in price between the annoyingly loud models and the MR600 is no more than $12 plus or minus. The metronomes that beep are not as functional as they should be mainly because of the basic sound. It is far too easy to tune it out (mentally) and not pay attention to it. In addition, most that beep also have to be adjusted by holding down a switch to get to the proper tempo. That is just plain annoying. The MR 600 has a dial and access is immediate. The MR 600 also will double as a great tool for kids in band and orchestra because it has a chromatic tuner. For myself, I use it when restringing a piano to chip it up to pitch quickly and semi-accurately.