this idea is an important one re-overall technical ability..some people like to work things out w/out the metronome and in terms of developing a relaxed feel/inner time concept it's probably a good idea,however its' important to be aware of how you can develop an "uneven" time concept without referring to it from time to time,especially if you're going for speed and don't realize you're "forcing" things thus leading to this id'd situation.........
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i was intimidated at first, then i made friends with mr. metronome and we're fine now.
helps when playing solo.  i have pretty good time keeping but not always the "right" tempo.  thus band members will say "pick it up", or "swing more".
using a time keeper (i like drum machines) is good when you need it, especially good for finger exercises like scales and arpeggios, but i generally don't use time keepers for practicing tunes unless they are old be-bop heads.
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what i've been doing(that got me thinking about the topic here) is practicing the 2 or 4 bar 2-hand coordination ex. in the m.harrison pop piano book sections like new age/funk-r+b etc.which are basically intermediate level "vamps" that have repeated figures for each hand for progressions,and taking similar sections of things in other books and repeating them w/the metronome to develop this basic skill as a keyboard player;also working on coming up with my own ideas for this type of thing,focusing on lh patterns under a fixed rh voicing..up till now i'd mainly been figuring things out and composing without really being able to do this.........
btw_in terms of this focus,anybodyfamiliar with the rhythm keyboard workout from adg productions?
that's interesting smg,  so you maintain time with the rh and improvise with the lh?
my guess is that some people have acheived it, but my personal experience has been that no musician i have ever worked with has developed a solid sence of time without getting it by working extensively with a metronome.  when i accept new students that have studied with someone who has not required them to work with a metronome it is such a pain and misery to teach them....  i have been trying to think if i can afford to refuse students such as these or charge two times the normal rate.
one of the many benefits of practicing with a metronome is the ability to sync to it.  when playing i a group we musicians have to sync to the rest of the players.  it seems to me that  practicing syncing to a machine that has perfect time would improve my inner sense of time, especially when dealing with fluctuations of emotion and heart rate that  occur when playing.  for example, there seems to be a tendency for most to play faster when playing louder, so i find practicing crescendos with a metronome to be very enlightening:)

i tell all my students, "pianists who don't practice with a metronome, suck"
re-jmkarns question above-i know what you mean and i've heard people do it(sort of a reverse of the usual way)but what i'm doing is just trying to execute the 2 hands in sync,using fairly basic lh/rh patterns.......i don't really have much of a lh yet and as far as improvising lh lines/patterns i'm either practicing ones that are already written out or coming up with some......nothing that exciting...

i'd still like to hear if anyone has worked with the book(rkw)mentioned above..........
yeah.  i know that has been discussed here before, and i think it's time for me to do some bach pieces and try to get both hands going.
i would love to break out of the lh comping rh melody groove.
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