I recently had a chance to test run the BodyBeat Metronome as I taught the front ensemble of the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps. I was excited for the change of pace in time keeping gadgets. There were a couple of interesting things that I found out as I explored this new device.
The BodyBeat is equipped with an external vibe clip that transmits a mild pulse to any convenient area of the body. Before i got started using the BodyBeat I thought that the slight vibration would get lost in the sea of sensory response that is inherit with any musical activity. Surprisingly, the opposite proved to be true, I always felt the clear pulse while the rest of the ensemble was playing.
This observation started me on journey to find out why time would be so clear. I found research that proves that tactile information such as the Vibe Clip and Aural information supplied from a standard metronome are processed to the brain through separate neural pathways. This dual method of transmission allows you to focus your aural energy on the music being played and not the metronome. When i was using the beat I really felt a clear pulse that was not drowned out by the sound of the ensemble. This allowed me to supply better time for the ensemble to reference. In addition to clarity I found one hidden benefit of the BodyBeat; the lack of a steady, nagging metronome yipe that could be easily likened to an aural form of a torture tactic was a golden benefit.
As I was trying the BodyBeat out I came across a couple of features that I really think would put this product over the top. I would have loved to see some type of click wheel to make setting a tempo go much quicker. In addition to the wheel it would also be great to have a bank of preset programs to facilitate quicker direct tempo changes. I realize that these featured would put the BodyBeat into a different price range. However, i have grown attached to these features with other devices that I own..
Overall, I think that the BodyBeat Metronome has the potential to change the way individual musicians practice and think of metronomes. It was certainly a great change in pace for my teaching routine.