A metronome is used to help a musician to play on the beat and keep the rhythm and speed of the piece steady and consistent. You can also use it to tell you how fast the music should be played.
There are two main types of metronome and it’s important to choose the one that will be best for you…
These metronomes are normally a pyramid shape and can be made of plastic or wood. They operate on a mechanical system like a clock pendulum with a weight which you manually adjust up and down to change the speed. The Wittner branded ones tend to be more reliable like these funky coloured Wittner Taktell Piccolo Metronomes or the more traditional Maelzel Pyramid Metronome, like this mahogany coloured one. For a cheaper alternative, try the Cherub metronome range.
You play a static instrument, like piano.
You find watching the backwards and forwards motion helps you to play in time.
Not for you if…
You want to carry your metronome with you to lessons or rehearsals.
You find the weight hard to adjust and prefer buttons!
Digital metronomes are much smaller than a traditional one and are normally significantly cheaper. You control the speed of the beats with buttons and they often perform other useful functions too. Make sure you hear this type of metronome before buying since the noises they make vary from a simulated ticking to beeps which can be rather annoying.
You need it to be small and portable.
You play an instrument which requires a tuner, since many brands offer a metronome/tuner combo, like this Planet Waves Metrotuner.
You are on a tight budget.
Not for you if…
You find a visual aid useful in addition to hearing the beat.
You don’t like gadgets!