So, for example, the following piece - should I play it as 2 clicks per bar (say at 60 bpm) and count "1 & 2 &" to play the quavers, thereby trying to get the off beat right (and making the playing difficult)?

Or should I play to 4 clicks per bar (at twice the tempo i.e. 120 bpm) and play the 4 quavers as 4 crotchets? That will spare me trying to time the off beats and make the playing smoother.

Aurally, it seems exactly the same. So what is advisable?

P.S. - I am playing more advance LH-RH pieces than this one, but this was handy to illustrate. :-)

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4 Answers 4


Use either, and both. It depends how good/bad your timing is! As a beginner, I'd start with one click for each of the shortest duration notes. Or even use two clicks per single note.

At a later stage, I might use only one click per bar, or for a bit of fun, use two clicks per bar in 4/4 time, and treat them as the beats 2 and 4 - the off beats. There are lots of imaginative ways a metronome can be used - don't just stick to the mind-numbing one-click-to-a-beat.

And you are right - this could have been written out as 4/4, using crotchets, and it would play the same.

  • "At a later stage, I might use only one click per bar, or for a bit of fun, use two clicks per bar in 4/4 time, and treat them as the beats 2 and 4 - the off beats. There are lots of imaginative ways a metronome can be used - don't just stick to the mind-numbing one-click-to-a-beat." Fabulous! Will try those ahead on the road. Thank you.
    – Subir Nag
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 11:52
  • +1 for the suggestion of offbeats. That's a practice method that needs all the publicity it can get.
    – Aaron
    Commented Mar 21, 2021 at 5:00

I'd go with 2 clicks per bar.

The metronome should keep a steady tempo and optionally help with accenting but not necessarily guide you for every note. And learning to fit 2 eighth notes into the space of a quarter (or whatever subdivision is called for) is something you'll need to learn anyway without hacking the metronome clicks to use as a guide. But use what helps you because that's why you're practicing in the first place.

And there are use cases for such metronome hacking. Jazz players sometimes do the opposite in that they use less precision so that the metronome is half as fast as the actual tempo. Then they use the clicks as the 2 & 4 beats (in 4/4). Some people say it better matches the jazz feel where you might have hihat/ride accents on those beats and some say it helps you develop better time by having to fill in the beats. Personally I just think it's nicer at really fast tempos where a click every beat is too much noise and more information than I need.


I only either count or use the metronome. But as @Tim mentioned, a metronome, even though there is the agogic component in music and notation, is not aware of these...

I deliberately sometimes set the metronome to three fours to practise even meters, or vice versa, which strengthens my inner timing even more, altough metronomes I find counter-intuitive for inner rhythm development, just a tool to get you started, and fixate your mind on the multi-faceted aspects of meter and rhythm.

But I do always set the metronome first to the indicated meter. It may sound the same, but you'll find it doesn't feel the same. If you want to view these as quarter-notes, it'll only serve you to practice it technique -wise, but more complex pieces require correct interpretation of the meter.

So, to summarize, metronome doesn't have anything to do with indicated notation, and you are free to use it anyway you want, but don't overuse it, or deprive your senses of the agogical aspects of music.


Doing it right and well from the beginning will not only strengthen your foundation but enable you to progress effectively.

However, using a fast tempo may not really help you; your focus should rather be on the accuracy of the sounds you play, consistency (strength of the sound) in the sounds you are making, their actual duration (with reference to a moderate speed you will use to play them).

You should go step by steps, practice often so as to improve with time.

As a beginner, having reached that stage, you stick to the first option and proceed upward, facing and braving the challenge; that's how you actually learn if you really want to make it far.

Concentration is key.

Difficult, no. Challenging, yes; but do not be discouraged. True gold is only refined through fire.

With time, your performance will surely get better provided you do well your assignments.

I wouldn't recommend you go the other way, at a very slow pace.

It is true most often beginners want the easy way out but that's not the best in my humble opinion.

Step up your game and move out of your comfort zone. If not, you will accumulate lots of lacunae with time, thereby making it difficult for you to progress effectively and tackle advance pieces in future.

  • While I understand your emphasis on practice and perseverance, my question was more on number of metronome clicks.
    – Subir Nag
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 3:46
  • I understand @SubirNag. I omitted that in my response. You should use the number of metronome clicks you are comfortable with, and this, with respect to the actual timing of the piece. Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 8:24

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