It is a good thing to be on the right place at the right time, is it not? Sometimes we call this ability timing. When you play piano this is a very important skill. The result will be music!
To play the notes at your piano on the right keys and with timing does not mean that your notes will be played with mathematic precision. That would probably not be music.
This is why a metronome will only help you halfway to this goal.
You have to learn timing together with other people and by listening to good musicians.
You learn timing when you learn to react musically upon other musicians playing.
In music there is usually a pulse. To be able to discern this pulse and become a part of this groove is something we can develop. When you have acquired this skill your own playing will contribute to a good end result musically.
Well, how then can you feel this pulse in music?
You can dance or just move to music. When your whole body feels the pulse you are certainly on the right track. How the actual dancing is performed is no big deal, at least not as far as developing your pulse is concerned.
I guess the most important matter is to cultivate the feeling of floating or surfing on the waves of music without any effort.
Another important and effective way to develop timing in your piano playing is to play drums.
I think this would be of great benefit to all musicians. To be able to create rhythmic patterns when drumming will help you a lot as a pianist.
Actually, drums are not necessary! They can be quite expensive as we all know. You can improvise rhytmic patterns on you laps using you own hands. Quite cheap solution, really.
Just one example, try to play eights by alternating between your hands and place the accent in different hands as you play. I feel that this is a very stimulating exercise for my mind. Maybe a form of meditation.
Another way to develop your sense of pulse in your piano playing is to buy a metronome. This is nowadays a very little musical device that will give a 100% even pulse and it will help you learn to play in different tempos.
As it is 100% accurate it is best not you use it all the time you play. Another more sophisticated rhythmic aid is a rhythm machine. Can also be bought as software to your computer and it has nearly unlimited possibilities.
As before mentioned the art of timing is not the same as mathematically perfect piano playing. Well, in some music styles it might be appropriate to play piano in this way.
When I use my recording software and for example take a look at the bass parts I produce I can see on the graphic representation on my computer screen that I often play before or after the beats on my bass guitar.
As you probably know the notes can be quantisized with the help of the software to play exactly “accurate”. Well, what mostly happens is that the whole production loses something very important. The music disappears.
I usually play the bass guitar parts either ahead of the beat or a bit laid back to create energy in the music.