Will a metronome help my fiddling?
A student named Henry K. asked me during office hours, “Will a metronome help my fiddling? Do you have suggestions for practicing timing on the violin?”
The short answer is YES. Practicing with an external beat (metronome, play-along track, drum machine, other musicians) will most certainly help your timing.
Metronome practice tips
- Start with simple things: single notes, intervals and scales
- Move on to phrases from simple tunes and eventually full tunes.
- The metronome should be LOUD. Otherwise you’ll lose the beat.
- Before starting to play, listen to the beat for 10-30 seconds. Feel it in your body.
- Do not use a metronome when learning something new.
- Once you can play the whole piece with flow, try to use the metronome.
- Start with a medium tempo. I suggest 70 bpm.
- Then, push both ends of the spectrum.
- Find your slowest tempo and fastest tempo. Also note the most comfortable tempo (medium speed).
- Keep track of your progress in a practice journal.
- Take breaks from the metronome
- Especially if you encounter some challenge which causes you to lose the beat. Just pause the metronome, work it out in free time, and then return to the metronome.
Here’s a simple metronome track (70bpm) you can use right now:
Follow this practice path:
The beat of a different drum
You can also try using more interesting beats. Here’s a bodhran beat (Irish drum) from Beat Central.
This micro-lesson is an excerpt from an office hours webinar I gave on January 28, 2020. View the entire live-stream with indexed questions here.
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3 responses to “Will a metronome help my fiddling?”
It is definitely a challenge to stick with a steady beat….Thanks, Jason
Thanks Jason. Many teachers recommend using a metronome but I find it too easy to over-ride/ignore. I’d need a metronome that beats me over the head. I often play along to backing tracks using music speed changer app to increase or reduce the bpm, or play along with a guitarist. Is that sufficient? Does a metronome add anything more?
Thanks for this, Jason. I always get frustrated when trying to use a metronome, but I usually just jump right in, and before you know it, I turn the metronome off. I think I need to take some of your suggestions here, like…
-Start with simple things: single notes, intervals and scales
-Move on to phrases from simple tunes and eventually full tunes.
-Before starting to play, listen to the beat for 10-30 seconds. Feel it in your body.