Glowing cherry-wood pyramid
silver wind-up key on the side
latched front cover
which came off exposing
thin pendulum with its movable weight
a Christmas gift from my parents
which said “We approve of your musical dreams”
They became brighter as its steady tick-tock
smoothed scales, arpeggios and broken chords
set just the right
Largo, Adagio, Andante tempo
I liked playing with it
Moving the weight to the bottom
all the way to the top
taking it off
You could kill quite a few practice minutes
playing with a metronome
One day it no longer tocked
It was about the time I forsook
my piano dreams
But it was still beautiful
and its mute red presence on the piano
made me sad
I wondered if my parents
felt disappointment too
© 2012 by Violet Nesdoly
It’s interesting how some objects carry a lot of weight. The metronome in the poem has been out of my life for years. A few weeks ago I saw one just like it on a friend’s piano and again I felt a pang.
This poem is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by A Year of Reading
27 thoughts on “Metronome”
Violet, this makes me wonder where my metronome got to! I’d love to spend a few minutes playing around with the speed of time again!
Maybe the most interesting memories are those of regret. Lovely line in “One day it no longer tocked.” I never had a metronome, but my brother did, and we raced to it, then walked slowly. Your lines of playing brought it all back. Thanks.
So true, Linda. We have (I have) a hard time of letting go of regrets.
Mary Lee, I love that.. “playing around with the speed of time.”
What a lovely memory, and that final stanza captures your “looking back” so beautifully. There is something so soothing in a metronome…I may get one just to listen to it.
Thanks, Renee! You could get a metronome to listen to yourself, or get your kids into music, and watch them enjoy it. 🙂
Great rhythm in your poem, Violet. Maybe it’s time for you to tinkle the ivories again?
I had a metronome just like that, too. I wonder what happened to it. I also used to waste practice time just listening to it and watching it. Thanks for bringing back all those memories, Violet.
You’re welcome, Katya. Maybe we were really dreaming up stories and poems while wasting our practice time.
Tabatha, Really? Well I think rhythm is engraved into a child’s psyche with early music. I believe some education methods (like Orff) are based on that. We put our son into a child-centered music program at four. Guess what his passion is today, at 26? Music, particularly drumming!
I took piano lessons for 8 years but never had a metronome (always wanted one). Used to love listening to the one my piano teacher had. Quite hypnotic!
I was so thrilled with my metronome, Jama! It was like I had finally arrived at a certain stage of maturity musically. But the novelty wore off. Obviously.
“and its mute red presence on the piano
made me sad”
We have one sitting on our piano that makes me sad for all those no-longer-needed paino lessons. Thanks for sharing this!
Yes, Tara. I can see how a silent metronome would be a reminder of the good old days. Maybe little hands and ears will soon use it again? (Do they even use metronomes in music practice any more?)
I never had a metronome either, but I still feel the sadness of those musical dreams set aside. Do you still play at all? I rarely do, but when I do sit down it brings pleasure even if it’s not pleasant!
Doraine, I do play, but only a little. We have the upright Heintzman that I took lessons on in the basement. In fact we had it tuned a few weeks ago. It still has its bright tone and keeps its tuning remarkably well. After the tuneup I hauled out some old music books and tried to play my old pieces. I’m so rusty, it’s discouraging!! But sometimes I like to go down, and play and sing along to the old hymns–something I cut my musical teeth on.
Yep. That’s where I cut mine, too. I have one favorite that I always return to, and can still play reasonably well, “And Can It Be that I Should Gain.” Love that one. My dearest friend is a pianist. She says playing keeps your mind alert and active, since you have to use both sides of the brain.
You should get yourself a metronome and a keyboard (though they have a built-in metronome) and play until you make peace… with the realization that you were right to put the metronome to rest, or that you were right to awaken your inner musician again!
Now there’s something I hadn’t thought of, Donna! In fact, a metronome might get me motivated to do scales and arpeggios and Bach? Do you think?
I love how objects can hold emotion like that. Thanks for this!
So true, Ruth. I think that’s why I like working with poem prompts (how this poem began) … because when I dig a little, even into an idea that doesn’t at first appear promising, I often find some response–and it’s usually surprising.
I spent a lot of practice time playing with the metronome too. Such a fascinating instrument! Thanks for sharing this poem!
You too, Andromeda? This poem is bringing a lot of closet piano practice time-wasters out of the closet. 🙂
Violet, this took me straight back to my childhood, too! I remember being mesmerized by that even, steady beat. Your description transported many of us, it seems. Thanks for sharing a beautiful poem and memory.
Thanks, Robyn! Amazing isn’t it, how many of us have that shared experience. (Maybe there’s a pattern here… lapsed musicians make wanna-be [and some very successful] poets?)
This is wonderful, Violet. The metronome was my favorite part of piano practice:>) I’ve used one off and on for musical things (even though I am not musically talented) as an adult, too. It is just kind of a magical totem, isn’t it? Love the way you played with spacing and speed in your poem.
Thank you, Laura! What a wonderful descriptor: “totem”! It even looks like one. As for it being someone’s favorite part of practice–I can only think that you were much better musically than you give yourself credit for.