What is a metronome?
A metronome is a device that produces a steady pulse to help musicians play in time. The pulse is measured in BPM (beats-per-minute). A tempo marking of 60 BPM equals one beat per second, while 120 BPM equals two beats per second.
A metronome is commonly used as a practice tool to help maintain a steady tempo while learning difficult passages. It can also be used in live performances and in recording studios to ensure an accurate tempo throughout the performance.
Using the metronome
Start by selecting a tempo by using the slider or the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard. Alternately, you can tap the tempo by clicking the "Tap tempo" button at the desired tempo or by using the "t" key on your keyboard.
Select the number of beats per measure at the bottom. Most music has 4, 3 or 2 beats per measure, in music notation denoted by time signatures such as 4/4, 3/4, 2/4 and 2/2. You can always select 1 if you don't know the number of beats per measure.
You can use the metronome to:
- Find the tempo indicated in the score. Set the metronome to the indicated tempo, establish the tempo, and stop the metronome before you start playing.
- Learn to play in time. Activate the mute function at the bottom, and set the metronome to play 3 bars and mute 1 bar. Play a piece you know well and keep the tempo in the muted bar. Increase the difficulty by setting the numbers to 1/1 (played/muted), 2/2 and 4/4 respectively.
- Improve your playing technique. Start at a slow practice tempo and gradually increase the tempo when you can play the piece without any mistakes.