Jean Croker Petke



My metronome is my constant companion at the piano. Our relationship has not always been so congenial. As a young pianist I hated the stress and tension the metronome added to my practice time. However, in recent years I come to regard it as a necessity — a welcome necessity.

I actually have two metronomes. One has been relegated to the shelf because it didn’t beep loud enough to be heard over Beethoven. In addition, glasses were required to read its tiny numbers — an annoyance for sure.

My current metronome is rather magical with its fifteen rhythmic patterns and six different beeps: dog barking, bird chirping, regular beep, drum beat, clapping, tin can tapping. The digital numbers are large enough to see without glasses. The red arc flashes on the beat as well.

The metronome has a permanent place on my music rack. All I have to do is hit the ON button, select the speed, and sound #1. While The Boy (four-year-old grandson) likes all the different sounds, I prefer a plain beep.

This metronome requires two AAA batteries to operate. Because I use it for several hours each day, the batteries must be replaced often — every few days, it seems. I buy batteries by the dozens so I never run out. A silent metronome is of no value to any musician.

Here’s the problem. Sometimes when I finish practicing I forget to hit the OFF button, allowing the metronome to stay on even though I’m not using it. Not that it’s beating the entire time — it just stays on until I turn it off.

Then at my next practice session, the metronome won’t work because the batteries are dead. It seems a simple thing to turn it off before I leave the piano but that only happens about half the time.

This situation got me pondering. How many times do we do a similar thing — like forgetting to turn things off when we’re finished using them? At the end of the day, how many times do we stay up too late, watching the last of a TV show or movie, or reading to the end of the chapter, or just putting one more piece in the jigsaw puzzle, or just doing one more load of laundry, or restoring order to the house, or checking our computer one more time?

The next morning we’re dragging. Our batteries are dead or nearly dead. We didn’t shut down at a reasonable hour. We didn’t shut down when our chores were complete. We didn’t shut down in order to conserve our energy for tomorrow. We just kept going because we could. We stay on, often in a mindless way. We don’t consciously shut down. We don’t say, “Enough already.”

My suggestions, to myself in particular, and you in general:

  • Check the current status of your batteries/energy. Are you fully charged, running at half power, or nearly dead?
  • How can you restore your energy?
  • How can you conserve what energy you have?
  • How can you shut down, when your energy is not needed?
  • What habits require a change?

Until next Tuesday . . .

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