One question I get from many of my beginner students: “should I buy a metronome?”
Short answer: yes.
(You can stop reading here… but actually there’s more useful stuff in the rest of this article.)
Long answer: yes, totally. And here’s how and why.
First of all, you do not really need to ‘buy’ a metronome: if you own a smartphone you can download any of the thousand of free apps that will work as metronome, tuner, chord finder, band-in-a-box, multitrack recording, and coffee machine.
(Seriously, the only thing these apps cannot do is to practice your guitar for you)
I personally still prefer to have a separate metronome, so I can not be tempted to check my emails while I practice guitar. But that’s up to you.
Second, once you have the little infernal ticking machine in your possession (you can see I love metronomes, right? Right?), what are you going to do? Simple: ask your teacher how to practice with it. There are many ways to do it, and only your teacher knows for sure which one is the most appropriate for you right now.
That said, it’s still useful to know WHY you have to practice with a metronome.
The fact is: everybody thinks that they have good timing. If you are reading this you too may be thinking: “yes, I can hear how other guitar players have bad timing, but luckily I have a natural sense of rhythm”… well, yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about :)
The only real objective judge of your timing is the metronome. Try to play along with it (or even just clap your hands). Can you do that? Great. Now RECORD yourself playing in time with the metronome. Listen back to the recording.
See what I mean?
Most players (and not only beginners) have a natural tendency to accelerate when they play. Without a stable beat, most guitarists that have not trained their timing will tend to simply play faster and faster. Not enough to be noticeable to them, but definitely enough for an audience to hear.
(You might be asking: “what about drummers, do they speed up too?” Yes, they have the same natural tendency, but they work A LOT with the metronome until they can keep a beat easily).
Once you can avoid speeding up, then your teacher will also show you how to use a metronome to practice you “groove” so that you will not sound mechanical (unless you WANT to sound mechanical).
So get (or download) a metronome as soon as you can, and go and talk with your teacher. You will sound way better in just a fe weeks. Promise!
About The Author
Tommaso Zillio is a professional teacher and guitar players, and he’s a respected writer of guitar columns. I his music schools he gives guitar lessons in Edmonton to many local up and coming guitar players.