Learning how to play the flute with a metronome isn’t as complicated as it may sound. The metronome is a device you can view as your friend. It will help you gain the skills you need to become a well settled musician.
The metronome helps you feel a steady beat. This is especially helpful to new learning-musicians because it’s not always a natural-born talent. As it clicks away, you can teach your body to feel the rhythm by tapping your toe, nodding your head, waving your hands, or any other body movement. Doing this enough times will eventually soak in, and you’ll be able to use the evenly-spaced moments in all of your music playing. Irregular beats go against our human nature, so gaining this particular skill is verrrry important.
The metronome is a device you can view as your friend.
I recently had a student write to me asking how they could learn to use the metronome since they had now purchased one (per my suggestion). It took me a second to realize that this isn’t really common knowledge, so here’s a quick guide to help anyone get on their way with the clicky-click device:
- Start by setting the metronome at a slow pace. The smaller the number, the farther apart the beats are (slow). The higher numbers will sound a speedier beat. All clicks are perfectly evenly spaced. This is the talent of the metronome.
- Use your body to practice tapping out the beats at the precise moment the metronome clicks. Can you do it? Some people can, and some people have to learn this one. Once you can keep a steady beat with your body, you can enjoy dance class more. 😉 And it’s time to play your instrument with the metronome and see what comes of it.
- Keep the beat slow and play short notes (stay on the same note at first) that land EXACTLY when the click happens. This is the skill. One note per beat. (beat=click in this instance) Playing a note on the click will be considered the ‘downbeat’ in this exercise.
It’s easy to identify the downbeat by tapping your toe. Each time your toe goes down and meets the floor with the click,… well, that’s the downbeat. Easy?
- If you’re super good at this it’s time to learn to play the ‘UPbeat’. This is more advanced, and you have to divide empty space into two perfect halves to find the precise moment your toe-tapping would be on the UP most spot.
You can practice this easily with your body (no need for the flute yet) by tapping your toe on the click (downbeat) and then clapping your hands (or tapping any other body part) on the UPbeat. *Remember that you’ll only actually hear the click on the downbeat.
X X X X = 4 downbeats
X ^ X ^ X ^ X ^ = 4 downbeats with the UPbeats represented in between.
Focusing and practicing these instructions with your device is a perfect way to get started at teaching yourself to have steady rhythm in your body. If you can get it into your body, you can put it into your instrument. It’s a Win-Win!
Have you had any great (or terrible) experiences with a metronome? Let us know! We’d love to continue this conversation in the comment section here on this page.