Strengthening Your Rhythm for Student Musicians

Strengthening Your Rhythm for Student Musicians

Rhythm is such an important part of music and life. Another word that we use in music to describe the rhythm is “pulse.” Just like the important function that our heart performs for our body, the pulse in music regulates the groove, pumps excitement into the music, and keeps the body of musicians together in any given performance. Read on as Community-Embedded Musician and double bassist, David Connor, explores the concept of rhythm in music and shares exercises for student musicians.

At any level, musicians always want to improve their rhythm and it’s a lifetime of work. It’s important to find new ways to approach concepts so I hope to offer you some new ideas in this video. These activities are based on my experience as a performer and a student of many different styles of music.

Part 1: Playing with the Greats

When I think about groove, the first thing that comes to mind are some of my favorite drummers and bass players in the jazz, soul, funk, and R&B genres. This is music that will make you move! Immerse yourself in these tunes and also try to focus your ear on the individual players of the rhythm section: bass, drums, guitar, piano, percussion. I encourage you to play along with these recordings on any instrument and use your ear to pick out lines or create your own. Improvisation is also key to this music, so I encourage you to jump in and create your own lines to complement the music.

Part 2: Scales; Not Just for Intonation

(Dave explains and demonstrates this exercise beginning at minute three in the video above)

In my scale practice, I often emphasize intonation and articulation as my primary goals. In this scale exercise, however, we’re going to focus on rhythm and improvisation. The goal is to make up your own rhythms but start by trying to copy mine by ear. If you’re unsure you can check out the transcription in the link below.

Scale Rhythms for Treble Clef Instruments

Scale Rhythms for Bass Clef Instruments

Part 3: Get More out of Your Metronome

(Dave explains and demonstrates this exercise beginning at minute five in the video above)

Practicing with the metronome is incredibly important by we have to remember why we are doing it. The goal is to develop a strong internal rhythm, not just lean on the metronome to keep us on the beat. These exercises are designed to let you do just that with the help of the metronome.

  • Focus on subdivision by starting with a metronome click for every beat and slowly dividing in half to rely on inner pulse (for example: 120 beats-per-minute to 60 to 30 to 15 to 7.5)
  • Use one click her measure, but alternate which beat gets the click (1, 2, 3) (1, 2, 3) (1, 2, 3)

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