Guitar Tips!

by Mike Furry, Guitar instructor at The Lesson Studio

As a guitar player, it’s easy to overlook rhythm because we seem to be so focused on playing the notes but the rhythm is as important if not more important than the notes themselves. I could be playing the hippest notes but if my rhythm isn’t discernible then it doesn’t matter what notes I play because music is really the amalgamation of both harmony and rhythm. I could also be playing really bad notes but if I play them with a discernible rhythm then I certainly have a better chance to communicate more to the listener than if I was playing indiscernible rhythms.
In order to understand how rhythm works, it needs to be internalized. What do I mean when I say internalized? When a musicians is able to keep a steady pulse while playing a piece of music, without any outside help (drums beat, clapping, etc…) then the notion of rhythm has been internalized by that musician. In order to gain that internalization we must…PRACTICE. How do we practice rhythm? The use of a metronome is virtually incalculable to the skill of internalizing rhythm.

A metronome is a practice tool that produces a steady pulse (or beat) to help musicians play rhythms accurately. The pulses are measured in beats-per-minute or (BPM). Most metronomes are capable of playing beats from 35 to 250 BPM. The metronome is designed to help you maintain an established tempo while practicing, and learning difficult passages.

There are plenty of free online metronome sites that allow you to utilize a metronome without having to spend any money on it. When using a metronome start simple. I would suggest playing one note per beat (one “click” on the metronome equals one beat). After your comfortable playing one note per click, then try to play two notes per click. What does that mean? That means play a note on the click and play another note halfway between the first click and the second click. This creates a rhythmic imagination where we can understand where the middle of the beat is without hearing a click on the middle of the beat. From most people, this is the genesis of their rhythmic imagination or rhythmic internalization. From there try dividing the beat into three (triplets) and 4 (sixteenth notes). Once your comfortable playing these divisions of the beat, then try to play them at faster tempos by increasing the BPM. This internalization can then be applied to the songs that we learn and allows us as musicians to better replicate both the harmonies and the rhythms of the music that we love.

Mike Furry, Guitar Instructor at The Lesson Studio

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