My wife tolerates the persistent electronic beep that finds its way through the closed door with more presence than the guitar does. I now try to get the practice done in the hours where she is at work, and I have done my writing to reduce the anxiety that can come with the steady beat of the blue KORG metronome.
For at least an hour everyday the simple electronic device reports back to me at anywhere between 60 and a 170 beats per minute. Am I in the pocket? Rushing though that tricky passage, or playing it too slowly? I sometimes think about setting a tempo, placing the blue box on the counter and washing the dishes to the sound. Subbing the drone of the news: our laughable and dangerous election season, the markets, and colorful feel good stories, for a neutral electronic beep.
I understand how it drives some people crazy. It used to make me angry, and I can’t remember the number of these things I’ve broken by pitching them across my bedroom, or into the corner of a small practice room on the third floor of Cleveland State’s music building. Of course it wasn’t the metronome’s fault. The inert object was merely a punching bag for my lack of fortitude.
Back then I would shun it. Convincing myself that my sense of time was “good enough”, that I was one of those players who just couldn’t jibe with the metronome. It was bullshit of course. The failing was mine, and I didn’t have the mental strength to face my weaknesses, let alone work on moving them to strengths. It’s different now. I don’t get upset when I hit the one and the metronome is on the three of the previous measure.
I let it settle now. Listen to the click and drag the pick across the muted strings, sub-dividing the quarter note into the turning eight-note of turn of a fiddle tune. The metronome can’t recreate that feel, that’s not it’s job. The cheap, blue KORG MA-1’s job is to provide an honest and unapologetic measure of your attention.