Awesome Guitar Lessons | Master the Metronome for Riffs

This content was created for Curtis Music Academy


I write this article today about the metronome and how to use it in piano and awesome guitar lessons. Now for many people who play the piano or play other instruments every time they hear the word metronome. They don’t like it. However, the metronome can be so positive and actually fine and it really helps you in the long run. So what is the metronome? Well, the metronome is a device that’s really old. It was created a long time ago. So it’s not something new with any new technology, but it’s a device that keeps a steady beat and it’s a device that you can set for a certain beat. So if you set it for 60 beats per minute, it would be exactly on time with the seconds of a clock. Right. If you set it for 120 beats per minute, it would cut every second in half. 

You can set it for 60 beats per minute. You can set it for ninety one beats per minute. You can set it for one hundred eighty beats per minute. You can set it for one hundred fifty beats per minute literally. You can set it like going up one, going up to four. Any sort of tempo that you would like. Now tempo. When I say that word, that word just means how fast or how slow you’re going in music. One of the most important things is that once you start a song, you have to continue that song at the exact same speed. This applies to both piano and awesome  guitar lessons. It’s actually incorrect to speed up the music and it’s also incorrect to slow down the music. So that is what I’m talking about with Tempo. 

Now, I have been in certain performances where the musicians actually accidentally started the song too slow and it’s always like, oh no, what do we do? And so they just got everything together and sometimes they just restart from the beginning, which is fine. Like everyone’s human, we’ve all done that. 

So we really work on that in your awesome guitar lessons. So they’ll either have to just stop and restart or they can slowly all get on the same page and slowly either go to the correct speed, whether that is speeding it up or slowing it down. You don’t really want to do that. You want to know before you go into a song what the tempo is going to be. So I used to play in a band and the drummer was really adamant about his metronome. 

And if there’s anyone who should be really passionate about the metronome, it is a drummer because the drummer sets the tempo for the whole band. The band is relying on one person for the tempo and it is the drummer. However, if you’re just a piano player and you’re saying I just play by myself, the metronome is still really important for you. Now, I kind of explained what a metronome was, that it keeps a consistent beat. And nowadays with modern technology, you can actually get metronome apps on your phone or they sell them separately at music stores like a little device that you can adjust. Metronomes are very useful for playing piano or guitar.

Another thing, too, is you can set it for different time signatures, obviously, for four, three, four, six, eight in a variety of other time signatures as well. And so that is very useful, especially if you’re playing in a song that has a funky time signature. The metronome can really help you. Now, I was really blessed in junior high and high school to be really involved in my school’s music program. And I was also really blessed because the school where I went to had a really strong music program and they took music really seriously. And so even as a seventh grader going into the choir program and the handbell program, it was already so well established that I just kind of learned from a seventh grader and continued to grow throughout my years at that school taking piano and awesome guitar lessons. 

And so why I’m bringing that up is whether it was in choir or in handbells, the conductor would lead us in with a tempo. The same principle applies to piano or awesome guitar lessons. He would say, one, two, three, four. And then we would start from either the beginning or the specified section of the song that we were starting at. That is such a blessing because we’d always have him there and he would always be conducting and oftentimes counting out loud with us. And so it almost has become something I do unconsciously is I just have that counting in the back of my head. And furthermore, with that, because of my involvement in handbell choir, which handbells are obviously like eighteen people playing all kinds of different bells, but you are in charge of like four bells for example. 

But one of the difficulties of handbells is in order to make it more challenging for contests and recitals and things like that. The Times. Signatures became harder, so we played songs in, I think five five eight timing in seven, eight timing and 12 eight timing. We did all kinds of things like that and not just difficult time signatures, but also difficult rhythmic patterns. So another thing that our conductors had us do is literally write out the count above the measure. And so that’s something I’ve slowly been incorporating in my students’ awesome guitar lessons as well, because it’s that important. Like if you have any sort of syncopation or any dotted quarter notes with eight notes, anything like that, if you can write the counting above it, that just helps tremendously. 

So I came from years of doing that. And so timing is a little bit easier for me. But oftentimes we have these wonderful students who come in, beginners of all ages. They don’t have that background of having the experience with a conductor for several years. They don’t have the experience of writing rhythmically above the measures. And so I realized that playing with the metronome is actually a lot harder for them to hear when they are supposed to be hitting the note. So if you were going to be playing for quarter notes on a middle C with a metronome at 80 beats per minute, that might be really challenging for someone who’s a beginner. 

So we kind of like to talk about that with some students. One of the things that I think is really important is not to make the metronome a drag, whether for awesome guitar lessons.

I might pull out the metronome for one or two minutes for a piano or guitar lesson, because I don’t want people to feel like, first of all, I don’t want them to feel like they are really doing terribly and they need the metronome, because I think that’s really discouraging. On the other hand, I don’t want them to get so in the mindset of I cannot play without the metronome because I want them to have that freedom to be able to play without the metronome. So I usually use the metronome for warm ups only at this point and in the future I might include a little bit beyond that. But when someone does a penta scale or if somebody does a finger exercise, that’s when I pull out the metronome.