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Metronomes click in a steady rhythm, helping you practice your time-keeping and rhythm. As an individual musician, a metronome helps you play a piece reliably to tempo every time. For duos, ensembles, and bands, they're essential for ensuring consistent rhythm and synchronicity.
When you work to increase your execution speed of certain musical phrases, the role of the metronome is to check if you have reached the desired level, and to help you maintain a steady and correct execution against that. Basically, metronomes help musicians understand what tempo or speed a piece of music is supposed to be played at. They offer a steady pulse to play against.
Using the metronome is also very important in studio situations. In most cases, instrumentalists record separately from other members of the band, so having a common and constant rhythm marker is key to ensure perfect synchronization. The metronome serves as that common denominator. It's always on rhythm and gives you the accent exactly when you need it.
A metronome is a valuable tool for both beginner and advanced musicians. Digital metronomes are battery operated or wound up, entirely electronic, compact, lightweight, and portable. When purchasing a metronome, look for one that will help you refine your chops. Choose a metronome that serves up a broad tempo range, and has multiple rhythm variations so you can practice across numerous musical styles.
You can set the metronome tempo either by turning a dial or by digitally entering the number of beats per minute. You should be able to hear an electronic and concise sound: a clicking, ticking, or beeping sound depending on which metronome you choose. Keep in mind that each metronome creates a different sound, so make sure the sound of the metronome you're going to buy is a sound you don't mind hearing over and over again.
There are metronomes out there that also incorporate a tuner. You can use the tuner and metronome at the same time or independently. This way, you can practice your pitch and rhythm simultaneously.
The visual display of the metronome is sometimes equally important as other basic features. Some metronomes allow you to not only hear the beat, but also see it. You can actually see the sound through a blinking light or a pendulum. Cool, right?
Metronomes may have more variety than you think. Ultimately, you have decide which features matter most to you. Do you want a visual confirmation of the beat in addition to the audio? What kind of metronome sound do you prefer? What kind of sound do your band members prefer? Do you need your metronome to be portable? Does having a tuner included matter to you?
Despite its small size, a metronome helps you take your music to higher levels, whether you practice alone or in a group.