Our Frenemy: The Metronome

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Let’s begin with some acting! We’ll begin by saying the following with a youthful, energetic, and eager voice: "Do we get to use the metronome now?” and “When do we get to use the metronome?”

I don’t think I’ve ever had a student say that. I usually get a moan, or their body slumps over in defeat when I suggest trying again with a metronome. 

Why does this happen?

The metronome doesn't tell you are wrong just once, but it tells you every time you're wrong. How long would you hang out with a friend who consistently pointed out your faults? It wouldn’t be fun. This is exactly what the metronome does.

Friend or Enemy?

Let’s take a positive look at this now. The metronome not only tells you when you’re wrong, but it will tell you when you are right- every time. When you’re locked in with the metronome, you can tell all is right in the world. You gain confidence and your skill level improves (friend). If you’re not locked in, your faults are pointed out- every time (enemy).


This is why the metronome is our frenemy. Webster’s dictionary defines frenemy as a blend of friend and enemy. Let’s look at the benefits you gain by making the metronome your friend:

  1. Develop an internal metronome (it’s really cool when this starts happening)
  2. Play with solid time (whether you’re playing for family or on a gig, this is essential. Who likes to sing or dance to an instrument that can’t keep time?)
  3. Your fingers learn to play evenly (playing evenly and slowly will increase how fast you can play notes on the saxophone)
  4. More musicians will want to play with you
  5. Gain confidence

Who’s Your Best Friend?

Can you begin to see why the metronome can be one of your best musical friends? The metronome always does its job, and if you pay attention to it, you’ll turn out on top- ahead of the pack. So start using the metronome (if you’re not), or keep on using it. You won’t regret it! Over time the metronome will slowly shift from being your enemy, to your friend- no more frenemy. And when that happens, your musical ability will soar!

Watch Out for Next Week!

Next week I’ll talk about specific ways to use the metronome while you practice. Follow these steps and you’ll maximize your results from your practice sessions.

Question- Is the metronome your friend or enemy right now? Feel free to answer in the comment section.

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Comments 2

  1. I hate to admit it, but you are right!! The metronome is a ‘big mouth’ lol… It keeps telling me ” slow down” so I tend not to use it that was until just now…..It makes sense reading how you describe the importance of the metronome…. Now I am looking forward to improving… Thank you guys. Keep up the brilliant work. Much appreciated.

    1. Post

      Hi Beverley- Yes, the metronome can be frustrating but it’s kind of like eating our vegetables. We understand it’s good for us but it’s not always easy. The key is consistency. Days may go by, and you may feel like there isn’t progress, but then you’ll start noticing a difference not only playing with the metronome, but how your playing improves overall. Keep up the good work and let us know how it goes!

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