How To Get Rhythm On GuitarPosted by Mike Schumacher
Learning how to play guitar can be quite difficult at times if you’re not careful of what methods you use to learn. There are many ways to approach music, but some may feel too complicated or tedious for no reason!
Some theories like chord theory or rhythm theory take time to grasp properly, but once you do they make sense and come in very handy. Both depend heavily on notes, so knowing the right notes is important!
This article will go more into detail about one such method; rhythmic theory.
Watch a video of you playing guitar
This will be your new favorite way to learn how to play rhythm! Watching someone play a song is a great way to pick up some basic tips. You can even do it at your own pace, repeat what parts you don’t understand and take notes!
There are many ways to learn how to play rhythm easily. One of my favorites is watching YouTube videos about music theory and then practicing what I learned. It works beautifully for anyone who is willing to put in the effort!
Music theory is an important part of writing songs and developing as a musician. Once you have the basics down, you can start applying yourself to any genre or style of music. Theory helps you connect the dots between what sounds good and which chords go with which notes.
This article has gone over some really helpful concepts that will help you get started quickly.
Practice playing along with music that you like
When you learn an instrument, your first instinct should be to play what you want to sound like or what someone taught you. But this is boring!
Playing what you want to sound like will not help you develop your rhythm skills. It can even hurt them because if you are trying so hard to make a note fit a beat, then you are likely to over-think the song and it ends up sounding messy.
There’s another way to approach practicing. You can practice by doing something different. What I mean is try practicing by singing a sentence instead of a single word. For example, when you sing “The sun rises in the east, it rises forever”, you use a parry structure which means there is a new line after each statement.
This is how most songs are built, they have a verse, a chorus and a bridge (a short section between the verses and the rest of the song). The bridge usually contains a rhythmic pattern or motif that returns at the end of the second half of the song.
Learn to read music
The second key element in getting rhythm is learning how to read music. There are many ways to learn this, but one of my favorite methods is using a software program called MelMode.
MelMode allows you to create your own library of songs by adding notes and lyrics to each bar. After that, you can organize the bars into groups or sequences and play through the song as if it were real!
You get very specific guidance for every note of the sequence, including which fingers to use and when to press down with your index finger. I have used MelMode to improve my piano skills and now I can truly say that I feel comfortable playing like a pro!
There are also several types of modes you can make out of any given chord, such as Major Mode, Minor Mode, Diminished Mode, Augmented Mode, etc. You get the idea, right?
Getting back to our guitar lesson, once you’re able to identify the notes in a bar and know when to press them down, you can start practicing patterns.
Learn how to use a metronome
A metronome is an instrument that helps you get into rhythm. You can use it to help you learn a new song, or just to practice your own music!
A metronome works by timing something – like a note, a silence, or a tone – every few seconds. The faster you make the timing interval, the more quickly the item is repeated.
The easiest way to start using a metronome is to use a timer function on your phone or computer. This app or device will let you choose any time frame for the timing interval, and then it will keep going until you tell it to stop.
You can also use a real-life clock as your timing source if you have one close by. For example, my friend’s mom teaches elementary school so she has a classroom full of kids who watch her clock every morning.
There are many ways to use a metronome in guitar playing. Some people use it only for practicing, some use it while they play along with a backing track or voice, and some even use it during performances.
But no matter what style of music you play, a basic rule of thumb is to find a working metronome and use that one.
How to use a metronome for getting rhythm
The best way to use a metronome for getting rhythm is probably most important for this article! That way I will go over it here.
Play in a room with perfect acoustics
Even if you can’t sing, you can still get some rhythm! All of us who play an instrument have felt that feeling when we pick up our guitar for the first time and something just clicks. It feels natural.
That is probably because most people learn how to read music, which is great if you are trained in music theory or want to be. But reading music isn’t very practical unless you know how to count forward and backward by whole numbers as well as what a note sounds like.
So, many beginners focus more on learning how to strum the notes on the guitar chord by chunking down the strings one at a time. And while this is a good way to start, it doesn’t help them develop their sense of timing.
It also takes practice to recognize where each string hits the fretboard, so they end up having to look back and forth between the chords and the song they want to play. This can easily distract them from getting those rhythm patterns going.
Practice playing at a consistent tempo
The next thing you will want to do is practice moving at a steady, constant speed. This can be tricky if you are not used to it!
Practice for one minute by setting a regular timer and then play your favorite song as quickly as possible without losing any of the notes. Your goal should be to keep time in relation to the music and not perfer quick timing or slow timing.
Once you have mastered practicing at a constant tempo, try changing the tempos to see how well you retain the rhythm.
You can also try experimenting with different songs that have various rhythms to see what style of music uses which patterns to achieve this.
Learn to sing along with yourself
The second way to get rhythm is by learning how to sing along with your own guitar playing. This can be done at any skill level, but it is easiest to start when you are just learning how to play the instrument.
By singing while you play, you are using one of the five senses to aid in music perception. Your voice is very powerful, so use that well!
You do not need any formal training as singer to begin this technique. All anyone really needs is an open tone voice and a desire to learn more about music. Once those two things exist, then you are ready to start trying out this method.
Singing is also a great way to improve your vocal skills. You will struggle first by practicing only doing it for short amounts of time, but as you progress you can extend the times longer.
Play in your underwear
If you can’t get into a rhythm, try playing some simple chords or melodies. But you will need to know how to play those first! So pick up a guitar that you love and learn its basics, like our beginner lesson series here at Music Theory Hub.
Once you have mastered the fundamentals of music (the notes, the scales, the timing), then getting rhythm is easy! You can choose any note as your starting place and determine the length of time for each part of the song. It’s like running through the house and choosing which room to enter next — once you decide where to go, the rest just sort of comes naturally!
Music theory also refers to this as meter.
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