What is a Metronome?

A metronome is a device which allows you to practice keeping time, whether you are playing the guitar, piano or any other musical instrument.

If you have grown up with a piano in your house, you may have seen the traditional looking metronome below.

what is a metronome

The device swings with a ticking noise to the speed you set and you play your instrument to the beat. Metronome speeds are measured in BPM, which stands for ‘beats per minute’. 60 BPM would be 60 beats every minute, one beat every second.

Modern Metronomes

Today we all have smart phones and many music apps which have replaced the traditional metronome.  I currently use the metronome within my guitar tuning app called GuitarTuna. Most guitar tuning apps will incorporate a metronome, just find one you like.

modern metronome screenshot taken of guitartuna app which has a built in metronome

Like a traditional metronome, you simply set the BPM and play along to the clicking sound.

How to use a Metronome

Start my setting your metronome at 60 BPM, then start strumming your guitar to the clicking sound. Don’t worry if you find this difficult at the start, it will get easier.  Begin with just down strokes until you get comfortable, then start incorporating upstrokes too.

You can then move on to practicing scales using your metronome.  Start with a simple minor pentatonic scale and 60 BPM, playing the scale forward then backward ‘to the beat’. Slowly start increasing the BPM until you don’t make any mistakes. You can then try playing 2 notes per beat.

Tip: If you find metronomes boring, try downloading a loop app that will play a continuous beat/rhythm. I recommend the Loopz App which I currently use on my android phone, I’m sure they will have an iphone app too. Along with helping you keep time, you can also play with different rhythms.