"My Rhythm Isn't Improving" (HERE'S WHY!)

Have you ever felt that no matter how hard you practiced rhythm guitar it just won’t get much better? In this lesson I’m going to show you the two biggest reasons why I believe your feel for rhythm guitar is not where you want it to be... 

This lesson covers topics centered around:
  • the number of times that you are knowingly and unknowingly training
  • learning rhythm guitar exercises for hitting the beat perfectly
  • developing greater control over your feel for rhythm


In this lesson, I want to help you get a lot better with your ability to perform rhythms. When we dive into the different aspects of what’s involved with rhythm training, I like to think of this topic as being more of a part of Ear Training rather than guitar technique.

- The Mechanical Side:
There is (of course) a side to rhythm development that involves mechanical training. This includes concepts such as how your hand moves, the development of the feel of the pick’s strum across the strings, and achieving a relaxed, loose feel of the hand, wrist and arm.

- What's Holding You Back?
Those are all important mechanical areas. But, in this lesson, what I want to tell you about are two things that you’re probably doing wrong. Things that will hold back your rhythm ability.

These are the frequency (or what you could think of as your regularity), of how often you study each rhythm duration, in your practice routine. And, any sort of lack of variation when it comes to studying different rhythms...

First of all, when it comes down to training frequency and being constant and persistent with a daily rhythm studies routine – this is an area that is easily neglected.

Guitar players need to establish a regular routine, for not only running through all of the different rhythms I’ll be discussing in this lesson plan, but, also (if you’ll recall I said earlier), I feel that the Topic of rhythm is more associated to Ear Training.

In order to push your skill up to a new level, you’ll also need to transcribe rhythms on a daily basis. And, when you do that, make sure you’re doing it from several different styles of music, because, every music style applies rhythms differently.

What's important to understand is that it’s going to be the exposure to several different forms of music that will really push you to become a much better; listener, interpreter and eventually performer of all types of; rhythmic feels, beats and syncopation.

Another important area I need to mention is that when it comes to playing the guitar, pretty much anything that you’re doing - involves rhythm. Chording, soloing, learning a riff, reading music, working on technical drills, everything we do involves the use of rhythm.

This means that if you’re sloppy and if you never focus on rhythm (with an intention of perfectly performing every beat of every part that you work on), what’s going to happen is you’ll burn a series of bad habits into your memory that will be incredibly difficult to undo later on.

Study with a Metronome:
Understand that, if you’re not working with a beat in the background, (metronome), you really need to start practicing with one as much as you possibly can.

My first choice and my personal preference would be a basic click track – a metronome. Have it clicking away in the background as much as possible. 

When it comes to establishing a rhythm work-out (before we get started), we really need to think about something called the law of diminishing returns.

Most musicians who get head-strong about studying difficult topics (like rhythm), also tend to push themselves too hard, and during the practice period they start experiencing diminishing returns.

In other words, they start getting worse at what they’re practicing because the level of benefits gained starts becoming less than the amount of energy that they’re investing.

Because of the concept of, "Diminishing Returns," you need a set routine and you need to stick within that routine.

So, grab your guitar at this point and let's lay out a solid rhythm study routine. Learn the following exercise and once it is developed up to playing level, do it at a minimum of 6 days a week, for at least 3 weeks

Begin by synchronizing your feel for the quarter-note to the click of the metronome.

Make sure that your foot is tapping in time to the quarter note and only use scratch rhythms on covered strings.

Once the quarter-note is smooth and is able to be played perfectly in time, switch over to feeling the 8th-note pulse.

For the 8th-note feel, use scratch strumming and strum down and up moving smoothly with how your foot is moving down and up tapping on the floor along with the 8th-note beat.

STEP 3). TRIPLET FEEL (3-IN-ONE)Once you nail down the 8th-note feel in perfect time, switch into feeling and performing the beat of the 8th-note triplet feel.

The 8th-note triplet is felt as a count that applies a “3 over one,” pulse.

With triplet time, there needs to be 3 equal attacks over the pulse of the metronome. Continue using scratch strumming and strum; “down, up, down” – on beats 1 and 3, then perform, “up, down, up,” on the beats of 2 and 4.

STEP 4). 16th-NOTE FEEL (4-IN-ONE)When the 8th-note triplet feel is becoming an overall decent groove for you to perform, switch into the feel of the 16th-note count.

This feel requires 4 equal attacks over the click of the metronome. The scratch strum for the 16th-note feel would be a consistent; “down, up, down, up.”

I hope that this lesson on rhythm will help you go forward and become a much better interpreter of rhythmic feel... If you’d like to learn more about how to further develop your guitar playing - join my web-site as a free member and start taking a look at my Guitar Courses.

The courses cover a ton of specific information on improving general and advanced playing skill. I’ve created a wide assortment of lesson plans that all come with very detailed videos along with PDF worksheets that you can download and print out to start covering all kinds of; exercises from, Music Theory, to rhythm training and technical drills.

The lessons are all very well planned they’re easy to follow – and they work in a very organized way. To help you get better at playing guitar quickly and easily.

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