How to Improve Rhythm (8 Practical Tips)

Written by: MT Team

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

Learning rhythm is a key part of being a musician. However, it can also be one of the most difficult skills to master.

Thankfully, there are many tools that you can use to improve your rhythm. Let’s look at some of the techniques you might want to try. 

How to Improve Rhythm

1. Play With A Metronome

Many people learning how to play music are familiar with a metronome. This is a tool that you can use to set a tempo, it will then tick in time to the beat.

This is a simple technique you can employ to get used to keeping a consistent time during a musical piece. It’s recommended that you try playing the same piece with multiple tempos, so you can get a better understanding of the way the song’s rhythm is meant to sound. 

As you continue to practice the song, you should try to become less reliant on the metronome. Instead, you can use other ways of keeping the rhythm.

For example, you might want to try counting the beats. In other cases, you might want to try tapping your foot or nodding your head. These techniques will become invaluable when you are playing before an audience. If you don’t know to use a metronome, this article will be able to teach you the basics. 

2. Record And Playback The Song

One of the best ways to test your ability to learn a song is by recording your performance. When you’re making the recording, don’t use a metronome or any other beat-keeping device.

Once the recording is complete, listen to the playback, with the metronome on. This will give you a better idea of which parts of the song you played successfully and which elements you need to spend more time honing.

Simply use a beginner’s DAW to record your performance, then listen back with the metronome on.

3. Practice With Different Hands

With most musical instruments, both of your hands will be performing very different functions as you play. For example, with guitar one hand will be strumming the guitar strings, while the other will be making sure that you’re hitting the right notes on the fretboard.

This method of practicing suggests that you practice each component separately.

For example, when learning the guitar, you might want to first focus on the strumming hand and staying on beat with a simple chord progression.

Then, when you’re confident with your strumming technique, you’ll be able to move on to the fretting hand. Eventually, you’ll be able to combine the two and play a song that uses both strumming and complex picking all while being in time.

4. Practice On A Different Instrument

Some people might be able to play two or more instruments. If this applies to you, try practicing the rhythm on each of these instruments.

This can often help solidify the lessons that you’ve been learning about rhythm and how it can be applied. It will also give you a better understanding of each of the instruments and how they function. 

5. Learn How To Subdivide Your Notes

While learning how to play songs by ear can be tough, grasping rhythm from sheet music can be an even bigger challenge. One of the best ways to help you learn this skill is by being able to subdivide your notes.

This technique can be key to learning how to master the rhythm of any written piece. This website teaches you how to subdivide your notes.

At first, this can seem like a complex technique but, the more often you practice, the more skilled you will become.  

6. Try Dancing

Another great way to improve your rhythm is through dance.

This will let you experience the rhythm, seeing how changing the tempo or pitch of the song can impact the way it makes you feel. There are a few ways you might want to do this.

For example, you might want to turn on a metronome, dancing to each beat. In other cases, you might want to put on your favorite songs, trying to identify their rhythm. 

7. Use A MIDI Keyboard

Often one of the best ways to practice your rhythm is by using a MIDI keyboard. This can be connected to your computer, giving you a lot of musical options to explore.

For example, you might want to try to use it to see how it would sound to play the same rhythm, on a “different” instrument. In other cases, you might want to take an existing song and add some new effects. This can let you see how adding new elements can impact the rhythm.

8. Continue To Practice

Finally, it’s important to make sure that you continue to practice your skills. Often, the only way to improve is by noting your mistakes and trying to rectify them in the future. This is especially true when trying to learn rhythm. It can also help to practice with a broad range of songs and genres. 

Read Next: Practicing Music The Right Way (5 Habits to Adopt)

Final Thoughts

In closing, if you’re a musician who doesn’t have good rhythm, you probably won’t get invited to many jam sessions or play in a gigging band for very long. Rhythm is essential and if you feel like you just weren’t born with good rhythm well then I’m here to tell you that it can be learned.

Will it be difficult? Yes. Will it take time? Undoubtedly. But, if you want to be a serious musician then rhythm is key. Without it, you won’t be able to keep up with other musicians or feel confident in your playing. So, make sure to practice, practice, practice, and don’t give up on perfecting your rhythm.

About MT Team
Posts on all things related to instrument education, gear reviews, and so much more. Written by the MusicianTuts editorial team.

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