There is a lot of discussion out there on whether you should use a metronome when practicing the piano. Some people think it makes you play robotically and it warps your sense of free musical expression. While this might be true in part, I really believe the benefits of using a metronome far outweigh any downsides. Here are a few reason why I feel this way.
Mental rhythm is usually off base
Some people think they don’t need a metronome and can just rely on their natural intuition to play pieces evenly. This is rarely, if ever, actually true. You would be surprised how uneven your playing can be without practicing with a metronome. For this reason, it is very important to use a metronome at least at times when practicing to make sure you can keep a consistent beat when necessary during your pieces.
Great for bringing pieces up to speed and tracking progress
If you are trying to learn fast passages, the metronome is an amazing tool to track your progress. Without it, you have to rely solely on your intuition to see how well you are progressing. With a metronome, you can say that you are, for example, able to play a certain passage two clicks faster than you could a week ago. The metronome is literally the best possible tool you could use to track your progress when learning difficult pieces.
Great for playing evenly
There are certain types of music that require very even playing. Lots of baroque and classical era music, for example, require this. The metronome is the best way to make sure that you are in fact playing evenly. You don’t want to have to rely on your ear to be able to tell whether you are playing evenly. Use a metronome for this purpose.
Changes in tempo isn’t appropriate for a lot of music
For slow music or romantic era music, it may be vary appropriate to periodically slow the pace of a piece down or speed it up. Rubato is a commonly used form of musical expression in the romantic era and this technique can really bring out the beauty of a piece. For baroque and classical music, however, this does not really apply. If you are playing a Bach invention, for example, it is most appropriate to keep a consistent pace throughout the piece. Playing certain Mozart piano pieces requires even playing and it isn’t really appropriate to slow down or speed up at the artist’s discretion. Practicing these pieces with a metronome is therefore a great way to ensure you are playing these pieces as the composers intended.