What’s up with the way most guitarists learn (or rather don’t learn) rhythm?
After having the obligatory “rhythm chat” with hundreds of students (many of whom have had guitar instruction with other teachers prior to me), the resounding overall conclusion is…drum roll please:
“There was almost no discussion of rhythm!”.
SONGS were learned. SCALES, most often of the PENTATONIC variety, were learned. ARPEGGIOS?…maybe. MUSIC ANALYSIS (aka THEORY)…almost none. And learning the tools of music just decays from there.
I understand why this decay of training takes place. Learning SONGS is always very motivating. PENTATONIC study makes us feel really cool as lead/solo players really FAST. ARPEGGIOS & ANALYSIS seem to be introduced as a kind of an after thought (not always but often).
…but RHYTHM STUDY?
And I mean specific, focused and intentional study…dust bunnies!
Checkout this nice video from Adam Neely on some fundamental rhythmic tools ( Adam is a bass player – do bass players need to be good at rhythm?).
So much of the stuff that guitarists struggle with when learning guitar is often grounded in NOT learning to HEAR rhythm, NOT learning to FEEL rhythm and ultimately NOT learning to CREATE rhythm. Of course some people do all of this stuff “naturally” but they are, by far, the exception.
So if you are a guitarist who has been playing for some time but you have not engaged in any serious discussion or training of rhythm, you are not alone.
It seems to be the norm in Guitarlandia.
That being said…just because it’s common does not mean it’s right.
If you want to be a musician you need to develop your rhythm skills – not some time in the future but right NOW. In fact, ideally you would have been working on this from the day you began playing guitar. But realistically I get that most don’t so I won’t guilt you for that.
It really is as simple as…
If you can count to four and you can speak and you have a heartbeat, then you have all the starting tools you need.