When you’re practising a new piece it really helps to play it at a very slow speed to eliminate mistakes. It’s so easy to speed up or slow down without even realising it. That’s where a metronome can really help. It makes an audible click on the beat and encourages you to play at a steady pace.
More tips on effective practising can be found on the “Practising, Muscle Memory and Routine” post.
There are also quite a few phone apps which are handy as they are so portable you can take them with you wherever you play. Some have the first beat accented so that it either sounds louder or has a different tone so that you know where you are in a measure or bar.
Mechanical metronomes which you wind up are quite nice too and give you a visual perspective on keeping time. Their downside is that there is no accented first beat. On the other hand, if you lose your timing, then at least you don’t need to wait for the end of the bar to pick up the beat again.
Here is a nice online metronome from “8notes.com” which you can set to various time signatures and tempos. You can have a simple beat or give it a Latin, Rock or Funk feel. Click here for the free online metronome to stay in time while you play! (it will open in a new tab in your browser).
What is good about this online metronome is that the first beat of a measure can be set to a different sound from the other beats. This is very helpful for you to keep in time when playing.
Free Online Metronome
One of my favourite online metronomes is from Virtual Sheet Music. You can set the speed with the slider. Or if you prefer, you can choose an option such as andante or allegro.
There are various options for setting a strict or loose tempo and the first note of a bar can be accented or not. There is also a cool flashing mode so you can keep your eyes on the fretboard and use the flashes in your peripheral vision to keep in time. However, I don’t imagine this would be good for anyone who has to avoid flashing lights so beware!
Did I mention that this metronome is free?!