View Full Version : The white man's curse

10-30-2010, 02:08 AM
So I am working with a teacher now, and he is having me really pull back and focus on rhythm.

He is having me practice with drum sticks, a drum pad and a metronome to internalize my own metronome.

Also we are working through exercises in this book http://www.amazon.com/Rhythmic-Training-Instructional-Robert-Starer/dp/0881889768

It is a bit of a struggle for me.

I am curious what others do to improve their rhythm.

10-30-2010, 02:36 AM
I've been told I have great rhythm, yet I've never practised it. I just pick the uke up and go hell for leather at it, play the song as if I'm living it. I suppose that's what brings it out in me.

10-30-2010, 02:43 AM
Remember Steve Martin in "The Jerk"?

mm stan
10-30-2010, 02:44 AM
Aloha ARW,
Rhythm and timing is the basic foundations of music....for me, I started of playing songs that I knew well growing up....childrens songs and rhymes....are good starter songs..
I try to sing along to keep the rhythm and tap my foot to keep the beat and transfer it to my fingers...

Hippie Dribble
10-30-2010, 02:50 AM
hey mahn, I jus' dreadlock ma hair an putta pair uv dark glasses on mahn:shaka:

Hippie Dribble
10-30-2010, 02:56 AM
hi ARW

the great man Johnny Cash said it best...if you wanna "get rhythm" you gotta "get the blues"...

to me that means you gotta be "living" the song in a sense, be totally connected with it on an emotional level over and above the technical side of things...to really feel it, lyrically, engage with it...when you get in that zone the rhythm of a song becomes a part of you like your heartbeat, so that you become one with it...that's my experience anyway. Just my :2cents:

all the best with your practicing!!!

Ukulele JJ
10-30-2010, 02:58 AM
Play along with a metronome or a recording of the song.

Record yourself and listen back to it.

But don't let your frustration about where you're currently at rhythmically get in the way of continuing to learn other things (chords, melodies, songs, etc.) You'll get there!


10-30-2010, 04:19 AM
Dunno.. For some it just comes natural, (yes, even for a white guy, lol), while others have to develope it.. How to "learn" it, I have no idea. As for myself, I have always had natural rythem....

Hippie Dribble
10-30-2010, 04:27 AM
Agree with Tudorp. I think rhythm of all things in music is the hardest to "teach"...I've tried and ended up like this :wallbash:Makes me think it's one of those things you either have naturally or you don't...

10-30-2010, 05:10 AM
I'd guess that there is a definite internal rhythmic sense that some folks have beyond a metronomic concept of time. I mean, some folks can keep a beat but they can't swing to save their lives. And it's that sense of swing that makes rhythm interesting. Musical time is elastic.

10-30-2010, 05:36 AM
Set of bones on the dashboard of the car- play along with every song. Either you get rhythm or you really hurt your wrist ;)


10-30-2010, 07:05 AM
I have very good rhythm! But it has nothing to do with my race.

10-30-2010, 07:36 AM
Stop talking and get in the groove

10-30-2010, 07:36 AM
Stop talking and get in the groove

10-30-2010, 08:10 AM
I used to teach basic musical skills to university drama students. The philosophy I developed during that time, which has grown stronger since, is that everyone has a basic, innate sense of rhythm. If you seem not to, then the problem isn't a lack of rhythm, it's INTERFERENCE. This usually comes from your brain, but can come from your muscles. Play very simple rhythms that you know you can do. You have to do that for a long time to let basic rhythm become part of your muscle memory. Then subdivide into smaller rhythmic units (2 strums to a beat). Then add syncopation (skip the first strum, hit the second). Go slowly. You're retraining your body to NOT confuse itself. Your aim is for the basic units of rhythm to be within you, to be instinctive. From there, the rest is different versions of the same thing.

And, if I may, and I'm NOT naming anyone here (as I only know about 3 of you personally), many people who claim to have great rhythm actually don't. I was doing African drumming with some students the other week, and the ones who most wanted to show off usually fell on their faces most quickly.

Chris Tarman
10-30-2010, 08:43 AM
After 30 years as a bassist, I think I have pretty good rhythm. I can't COUNT it worth a hoot, though. I just feel it. I like to play around with note placement, even in a straight-forward tune, something I originally picked up from Chris Squire (I used to listen to a LOT of Yes!). Later on, when I got interested in Funk music, I really got a natural feel (I think) for that kind of "back-of-the-beat" Meters type groove.
However, sometimes on ukulele, I feel like I have NO rhythm whatsoever! I haven't internalized the instrument as much as bass yet (I've been playing uke less than 2 years). I feel like I'm getting better at it, but there's a lot more to think about with ukulele than there is with bass, at least for now. Chords and strums are still relatively new to me. I played acoustic guitar for a lot of the time I've played bass, but not much in ages. So I'm still trying to coordinate my left and right hands on uke.
And yeah... I LOVE that scene in "The Jerk" where he's trying to clap along with his family out on the porch. Classic!

10-30-2010, 09:11 AM
Yup, I used to play around allot on the "off" beat rhythm myself when I played bass. Loved it.. Still do..

Anton K
10-30-2010, 10:21 AM
Many many years ago when I wanted to play a guitar to impress girls. My mother forced a classical guitar instructor upon me who took the fun out of it. I was forced to deal with the "click click click click" of the metronome. Today my mother will tell people "Oh my son he was so talented, then he got into that 12 bar blues crap and hasn't left a bar since".

I struggle with rhythm, but for many that is the story of life. I would much rather listen to a creative from the soul set of fingers and strings then listen to perfect pitch and rhythm. Playing a Ukulele with no emotion involved is stagnant, you can not pull it off like you can with a guitar. The Ukulele to be sucessful tells a story beyond rhytm and meter and pitch. That is why some see it as a toy until they hear a brilliant story told such as bobby b told in his thread "What do you guys think".

The best cure for the white boy curse of a lack of rhythm? A ukulele, a creative soul, some hard knocks, and perhaps a mother who demanded some "click click clicks" to get you started.

10-30-2010, 11:23 AM
practice - the more time you spend playing the better you get. The trick is not to rush.

A metronome is ok but gets boring. Check out www.musicstudents.com (http://www.musicstudents.com) for exercises and play-alongs. If you play along with a steady beat it will become ingrained.

Hippie Dribble
10-30-2010, 02:26 PM
If you think you do not "have rhythm" you are wrong. The colour of your skin is said to be determined by a minute amount of stuff called melatonin(?) and has nothing to do with musical ability. Search on "drum circle" or similar if you seek confirmation. Listen to your heartbeat if you have nothing else around, it is usually a solid (approx) 60 beats per minute and you don't even have to think about it.
Some songs have really clever rhythms that don't start or end on the first beat of every bar, and/or do not line up with the beats you are playing chords on. If you look at the most common forms of ukulele music today, you get a set of words with chord names written near where the chord changes are required. You need to watch a video or listen to the song many times to work out the actual rhythm if you use this format. The issue is in the presentation of the song, it does not include all the information you need to play it, not in your meletonin supply. If you are using music in this format, and are having trouble with the rhythm, talk to a teacher or find a way to play the song's audio track sentence by sentence (in the lyrics) and try to write out where the chords change, and where the strums are. Even though most songs only last 3 minutes or so this activity could take several hours when you do it for the first time. But if you keep doing it, you will program your brain and you will get good at it. Good musicians seem to be able to do it instantaneously, but they have done a lot of practice, which they may never acknowledge publicly.

well said Bill!!!

hmmmm....maybe I'm wrong about not being able to teach it...maybe it's like anything in life...through lots of practice and effort one can gain a better sense of rhythm...

Uke Republic
10-31-2010, 09:13 AM
Rhythm method is not a sure bet so I would suggest....Oh wrong rhythm! Metronome yeah that should help.

10-31-2010, 09:39 AM
I think rhythm of all things in music is the hardest to "teach"

I'm with Tudorp and eugene ukulele on this one. It's the one musical thing that comes to me naturally, thank goodness - but I have the hardest time trying to explain it to others if I'm helping them learn a song.

Like many things musical, listening is equally important to doing when it comes to this. When I'm learning a song, I probably spend as much time listening to it as I do playing it.

10-31-2010, 12:20 PM
I have taught people how to play guitar and I have met many people who "played" guitar... some after countless lessons... who still had bad rhythm.

Rhythm is something you pretty much have to feel to become truly proficient in music. A lot depends on how young you were when you were first exposed to music. I have never had a lesson and have rock solid rhythm. I also can pull harmonize out of thin air. That comes from being in a family of musical performers.

You can learn to count music, but if you never really acquire a "feel" for it, then you will be limited. Learning to "feel" the rhythm of a song is vital. Visualization helps a bit for those having a difficult time in the beginning.