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Use a Metronome

You may think you have good timing. Trust me, it can be better. If you don’t have a metronome, please purchase one. It’s an invaluable tool.

A metronome is a device that produces a steady beat. You should be able to purchase one online or at your local music store. They’re fairly inexpensive and you’ll use it forever.

The first step in using a metronome is to understand time signatures. Time signatures are found at the beginning of a tune, right after the treble clef and key signature. Time signatures consist of two numbers. The top number is the number of beats in a measure. The bottom number corresponds to the value of the beat. Often times you’ll see 2, 3, 4 or 6 beats-per-measure.

Here are a few common examples: 4/4: 4 quarter beats-per-measure. 3/4: 3 quarter beats-per-measure.

2/2: 2 half note per measure (cut time)

Every note occurs at an exact time in relation to the underlying beat. If you can’t feel it, you can’t express it. What that means is, there’s no groove. It would be nice to develop a way to feel the rhythm. You can! Start tapping your food to the beat.

This kind of practice should go along with Tip 1.Rember? Practice Slowly! You will notice a difference in your playing in a week.

My piano teacher years ago would tell me to practice the whole tune at the same tempo. I think that’s good advice. We all have a tendency to play the easy parts, usually the main theme, too fast and the other part of the tune too slow. What you should do is try practicing the whole song at a tempo you can play the song. Then work on your speed. You’ll need a metronome to work on this. Figure out what speed you can play the difficult parts. Then work it from there.  If you Practice this way, it will lead to consistent and even tempos throughout the entire piece.

Say, start out playing the tune with 50 or 60 bpm. Increase the speed by 10 bpm every 3rd day. At first play quarter notes on the beat. Then put 2 eighth notes in per beat.

Do this every single until you can play it smoothly and effortlessly without making a mistake.

This tip alone will improve your playing in a few short weeks.