How many times have you been practicing a song, gotten the notes themselves right, but can’t quite get the beat right? As a learning musician, probably a few times. While you’re born with an internal sense of rhythm, your ability to “time” music is something you have to learn and improve as you go. If you want to learn to nail that beat and become a better musician, use these tips to for keeping time.
Tips for Keeping Time:
Choose a song you’re very familiar with, and record yourself playing or singing it without a metronome. When you listen to the recording, take notes if you think someone else could find the beat of the song and count how many times you lost the beat. Remeber to never get discouraged — you can only get better from here.
Counting and Clapping
Pick a song and count the beats aloud while clapping on each one. As you listen to the song, clap, tap your leg, or hit a piano key to the beat. Once you’ve got that going, start counting aloud. Most songs can fit into a three or four beat time signature, so count, “one, two, three” or “one, two, three, four.” Pro Tip: If it sounds like a waltz, it’s most likely three beats, while sounding like a march makes it four.
March to the Beat
This one’s pretty fun since it gets you up and moving. Using the practice of Eurythmics, you’ll use physical movement to match the pulse of a song through a bunch of different methods — dancing, marching around, head-bopping, etc. Feel free to move to the simple beat of a metronome or to a specific song that you like.
Once you’ve got the basic beat down, start subdividing it into smaller notes. This means listening to how long each note is and breaking them up into shorter beats. For example, if your song has a four-beat rhythm and has mostly quarter notes, start keeping time by turn “one, two, three, four” into “one, and, two, and, three, and four.” Now you’ve taken the guesswork out of how long each beat is.
Get a Second Set of Ears
If you’re still having trouble keeping time, employ the help of a music teacher. They’ve spent years honing their skills and will be able to teach you more methods to help you master finding and keeping the beat of the music.
At Grace Music School, our teachers have studied at the top-music schools and conservatories, so they are equipped with the knowledge necessary to teach you or your child the necessary skills it takes to be a successful musician. For more information about music lesson on Long Island or to schedule a lesson, call us at 631-239-6169 (Fort Salonga) or 631-470-9705 (Melville).