Lesson 19: How To Play In Time

The biggest problem I see with people who come to me for private lessons is poor timing and feel. As a beginner you need to develop an awareness of timing and a sense of when your playing is steady and locked in with the beat. For more advanced players, your groove is what's going to make other people want to play with you, and get you gigs and work. 

You need to have your own internal "clock" and sense of rhythm, and also be able to lock into an external timimg reference such as a drummer or other guitar player, or a metronome. Like anything else, your timing will improve with practice, and in this lesson I talk about a couple of ways you can develop your groove.

The Foot Tap

This seems  so  obvious as to not need any comment, but it's not easy if you've never done it before. Work on keeping your strumming hand and your foot tap perfectly synchronised. It would be a good idea for you to go back over any of the exercises and songs that we've looked at so far and try to play them whilst keeping a steady foot tap.

The Metronome

Similarly you can have a go at playing previous material we've covered whilst keeping in time to a metronome. Again, it won't be easy to start with. Really listen carefully, and if you drift out of time with the click, just stop and try again.

Recommended Metronomes

As I mention in the video, the old-school tick-tock metronomes look great and are nice and loud, but they're not as controllable as more modern metronomes.

For a good basic metronome I'd suggest the Korg MA-1. It's cheap, and has a few more advanced features which will come in useful as you progress. The only downside with this and other pocket-sized metronomes is the lack of volume. They're easily drowned out by an acoustic guitar, making it hard to lock into time with them. There is however an earphone socket, which should help. 

Better, though more expensive, is the Korg KDM-2, which is nice and loud. 

The Boss Dr Beat series metronomes are also really good, but quite expensive.

Recommended Shoes for Foot Tapping

I've always been a fan of the classic Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars and will always wear them whenever I'm doing serious foot tapping practice. They offer a clear and resonant foot tap sound, which cuts through the loudest strumming - something I've found to be lacking in other cheaper brands of trainers. They also provide solid ankle support for those prolonged practice sessions.

Only. Joking.