If you play live music, rhythmic accuracy is the most important aspect of your performance (besides pitch). You can immediately recognize an unprofessional band by listening to them while they are playing only a few beats, totally out of rhythm.
Let me teach you a method, which will help you improve your rhythmic accuracy.
About 20 years ago, I was studying with one of the best Hungarian jazz musicians, and he taught me a VERY powerful practicing method.
It is so powerful, that you can literally learn to play ANYTHING with this method – on any instrument.
What is weird, that since then, I have never met another musician who knew about this technique.
I also searched Google to find another blog or video who mentioned this practicing method, but didn’t find any. ZERO.
But before we go forward, there are two things you need to keep in mind:
1. This method LOOKS very simple, and I think the simplicity is probably the reason that is so overlooked. I told this method to many of my musician friends, and NOBODY thought that it’s a big deal… UNTIL THEY TRIED IT! Only those who have tried it know the power of this method of practice.
2. You need patience and do the steps exactly the way I explain.
How to improve rhythm and timing
Every musician and music teacher knows and uses the metronome. But the truth is, almost nobody knows how to use it!
This is what you have to do:
Let’s say you want to practice a melody or a scale. Set the metronome to 60 bpm.
The number is not really important, it can be lower, but the point is: it needs to be ridiculously slow!
Once you can PERFECTLY play the melody in 60 bpm, without any mistake, the next step is to set the metronome to 61 bpm.
No, you can’t go to 62 bpm, you need to make only ONE step at a time to get the results.
Once you can PERFECTLY play the melody in 61 bpm, without any mistake, the next step is to set the metronome to 62 bpm.
And so on… 63, 64, 65, 66… until 200 – or until you reach the desired tempo.
There will be points where you will feel confident, and you want to make more than one step with the BPM, but DON’T!
As I said, this looks simple, so you might think that this is not a big deal… well TRY IT first, then judge after you have tried.
Learn only ONE melody with this technique, go from 60 to 200, and you will see the results!
Another way to develop your accuracy is by training your ear
If you play on a wind instrument (for example trumpet), or on the violin, or maybe you are a singer, you need to play in perfect pitch.
In order to do that, you need a lot of practice, AND you also need to train your ears to HEAR that you are not on the right pitch.
The same applies to rhythm. In my experience, many people don’t hear that they are inaccurate with the rhythm.
This is what you have to do.
Record yourself with a DAW (digital audio interface like ProTools or Cubase), and you can use any microphone for this.
Set the DAW to the right BPM, and turn on the metronome in the DAW.
The DAW shows you the vertical lines where the beats should be, and you will see if you are close to the lines or not with your notes.
Many of my musician friends didn’t realize that they were inaccurate with the rhythm until they recorded themselves.
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About the Author
Producer, songwriter at Bánhidy András, and Barrio Latino Hungría. Author of The Rhythm Code.