It seems like almost every day I find myself giving my beginning band students a recommendation of a free online metronome for them to use at home as they practice. A real one or even a mobile phone app is almost essential for any musician but the online variety works equally well, especially when faced with the financial issues many music parents have these days. If you know where to look you can even find online metronomes that do complex rhythm patterns and have most of the features of the expensive hand held units. So what free ones do I consider the best? Check out this quick list to find out and then bookmark your favorite.
Truth be told, there are TONS of free online metronomes out there. Many of them are duplicated across many different sites, so just because I am quoting one as being from a specific site below doesn't mean that the app originated on that site, they may just be using the code. Also, I will admit that I am attracted to shiny objects so natually I have a preference for apps that are both useful and fun to use. After looking at literally dozens of different online metronomes I have whittled my favorites list down to these three top contenders.
The people that put together BestMetronome went all out with versatility and that makes this site my top pick for the best online metronome available. From the home page of their site you can access several different varieties of metronomes from an attractive traditional style spring-wound metronome to an amazing fully customizable one that allows you to create multiple measures of custom rhythm patterns. The simple metronome can be embedded in an iframe on your own school or studio web page and it is much more visually appealing to look at than most of the other competitors. A great feature in the advanced version that often cannot be found on other sites is the ability for you to tap the tempo you want into the metronome. They also offer a Java applet that can be used on mobile phones.
If you head over to the Gieson site you find a very retro looking online metronome that looks vaguely like an old 1970's era police scanner. It has a little bit of customization available but on the whole it is pretty basic. You can change the tone of the beep and select up to eight beats per cycle but beyond that there is not a lot of functionality. The app can apparently also be downloaded to your local computer though, so the ability to have offline use is a big plus.
MetronomeOnline is an Internet classic, and it is often the easiest URL for a person to remember (hence it's popularity). If you Google online metronomes this one usually comes up first. Unfortunately although it is fully functional and does the job it is made for it is also kind of lame to look at. It provides no visual representation of the beat and cannot be set to complex rhythms. Still, for young students who need a quick and simple online metronome this one is usually my first pick just for simplicity.
Any of these online tools will help you or your students keep the beat for free. Of course, I'd always prefer to have a real, physical metronome in my pocket, even if it is just an app on my phone, so if you are in the market for an actual real life metronome then head over to MusicEdMagic's metronome review listings for more information.