Jennie Khan

Freelance Cellist and Teacher

Jennie Khan is an Auckland based cellist and cello teacher. She has a variety of experience performing both here and in Europe and has been teaching students of all ages for many years.

Review - Metronome App - Pro Metronome for iOS

So, given that I talk A LOT about using a metronome (often to the sound of student groans) I thought I ought to tell you about the Metronome App that I use: Pro Metronome by EUMLab

Midway through last year my ancient iPhone was dying a slow and painful death. I couldn't quite justify a whole new phone at the time, so I started looking for a metronome which could do everything I wanted it to do, basically what Pro Metronome does - I couldn't find one, at least not without costing me a fortune.Eventually I had to bite the bullet and got myself a shiny iPhone 6 SE - the first thing I installed was...Pro Metronome.

It has a fairly comprehensive set of basic features:
- 13 different sounds + mute/light only so chances are you'll find something you can works with.
- You can set the number of beats (1-16) and time signature (any note length from semibreve down to demi-semi quaver - whole notes to 32nd note)
-Each beat can be controlled individually with 3 levels of sound  as a regular beat, sub accent or accent, you can also mute any beats.
- Alongside the beat display, there is a visual light display that can be customised in several ways , from only flashing on accented notes to flashing different colours on all the different levels of beat. Personally I prefer the pendulum mode as when I'm working with some tricky rhythms it gives me some visual anticipation for the next beat.
- Pro Metronome features an impressive speed range from 10-500bpm, combine that with the ability to mute beats and it's really gives a lot of scope to play around - super useful when your trying to work on your internal pulse.

The App has a number of paid add-on features, that you can buy as a bundle (NZ$6.99) but you can also purchase individually (from NZ$1.69), which I think is really good of EUM to do this as I don't necessarily want to pay for features I'm not going to use.

-Sub Divisions:
I use this all the time, as the name suggests, it lets you hear different subdivisions to the beat. There are up to 16 rhythmic variations to choose from, including off beats, syncopations and triplets.
I find this really useful  for speed control, rhythmic accuracy and what I call cognitive confusion (I'm sure there's a proper term but I can't find it) where in order to play something straight and even, you practice against an alternative rhythm making it harder to play in time, so when you play again normally it feels easy.
You can also overlay a regular beat click using the accent levels. For example I might set the subdivision to offbeat semi-quavers and set an accent on just the first beat of the bar to keep my own internal beat in check.
With such a large number of combinations, there is something for every style.

-Practice Mode
Another useful paid feature I recently started using. I find it very useful for practising short exercises or passages that are easily repeatable.

I have been mostly using Automator - you can set the duration for each tempo by time or bars, then pick a start tempo and a target tempo and the increment which to increase each round. It then gives you an approximate time to complete. This is great to use as a warm up on a scale or short repeatable exercise, a bit like a musical beep test (but more satisfying and less competitive than the gym version). The only improvement I'd like to see here is that when you press start there be a count in. Using it for a continuous warm up activity, between pressing the start button and having my bow ready to play I miss the first couple of beats - but not a huge issue when I start slow and will be repeating it many times anyway.

The Warm Up setting is a bit more fiddly, for my purposes at least. Here you can set a tempo and then set multiple sections where you choose a multiplier for the tempo (faster or slower) and a time. Given that the things I play have a set number of bars, setting the time is not as useful. It does indicate how much time equals a bar at the given speed, but I found you still have to do a bit of maths so that rounding doesn't catch you out and you have to skip the last half beat of the bar.

It is still a very useful tool, and you do have a bit more control than automator to speed things up and slow down as you wish.

Other paid features are available like Polyrhythm, letting you play multiple rhythms simultaneously and Rhythm Trainer which mutes certain bars to train your internal pulse, but I haven't used these. There is also a tone generator, but I have a specialist Tuner app which I'm very happy with.

On the whole I find the app very user friendly and intuitive with swiping and tapping both getting you to the different menus. The tempo is easily controlled, with multiple manners to adjust it, including a TAP button. The display is clear and simple, and most importantly the sound is loud and clear. I would definitely recommend this app to anyone wanting to work a bit more seriously with the metronome.

You can download Pro Metronome from the App Store
For Android and iOS

If you found this post useful please click the like button below. If you have any questions or comments about this or any other metronomes do leave a comment underneath, Iā€™d be happy to open up the conversation.
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