The metronome. Buy it. Love it. Use it. Its amazing.
The next series of posts will be on some intriguing ways of using a metronome. Most will be for musical purposes, yet a couple will shockingly be out of the realm of music.
The first question is, do you know what a metronome is? It is a gadget (most of the time electronic) that keeps a steady beat at a myriad of speed possiblities. Some are fancier thn others, with choices of time signature, emphasized downbeat and mute and earbud options. Amazingly, I have one of these fancy shmancy ones and it was under $25.
Now onto a very basic musical way of using the metronome.
When learning a new piece of music, it is important to encourage confidence in your young musician. This is achieved by delaying the use of the metronome until a level of comfort is reached with the piece. Have your musician play through the piece without huge emphasis on beat...yet. After a decent level of comfort is reached (meaning they know the basics of the song and the general idea of fingering and note order). THEN introduce the metronome.
Set it at a slower speed (maybe as low as 60bpm--beats per minute). Encourage your child to pat the rhythm to the song on his lap. See post "The Five Senses--Touch" for further explanation of patting. After successfully patting out the song without huge mistakes, you can do one of two things. 1. step up the bpm and have him pat the song on his lap again. Repeat until the tempo--speed, is up to performance tempo. 2. have him now play the piece on the keyboard at the slower speed. Raise the tempo and follow the steps-pat, play; repeat until playing at performance tempo.
If you and your musician are struggling to find the appropriate tempo/bpm for both practice and performance, ask your musician's teacher or look for a recording of it online and time it.
*Remember, 60 bpm is equal to 60 seconds, so when you're figuring it out, just watch the second hand of your watch.