I'm learning to improvise and have been assigned the following task. [The highlighted text shows the part of the task I'm having difficulties with.] enter image description here

My normal approach to achieving a steady chord change every four beats would be achieved through the art of counting. That however, is something beyond my current abilities if I also have to make up a song in my head.

Is there another better approach to keeping a steady rhythm and freeing up my mind for singing or should I simply keep trying to both count and sing in my head and 'get good' ?

  • Isn't the song in your head to the exact same count as the song you are playing? If it wasn't, I can imagine the difficulty ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 17:13
  • No, it would be a song I made up on the spot.
    – Wolfpaka
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 18:09
  • Well if you're trying to sing one song whilst playing another, that's going to take some seriously advanced skills. Try something a whole lot simpler first… like the same song playing & singing.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 18:14
  • If you have guitar or can organize an instrument, play this schema on a guitar in A (with the chords in A7 D7 E7.). If you have internalized this schema and the simple beat you‘ll have no problem to whistle or sing any rhythm and stay in time. Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


A metronome is a useful tool to use - particularly one that goes 'ping, click, click, click, ping'. A drum machine is, in my opinion, an even better tool, especially for those of us who are used to playing with a drummer.

Both are used regularly by musos, with no shame. They provide something steady that we latch on to, giving our attention other maybe more important things to do. Some of us are blessed with an inbuilt metronome, which once set off, keeps pretty well perfect time. but for the rest of us, the humble metronome keeps us on track.


How about combining the Blues with dancing and March music?

  • Drawing a square - each side 4 steps = 1 measure.

  • Marking the 4x4 footsteps by small circles.

  • Walking the square by counting 1234 and left right left right

  • Each side = 1 bar, 4 sides = 1 line of the blues

  • Walking the square 3 turns = 12 bars of the blues = 1 verse

When this pattern went over into your flesh and blood: Start with speaking the songtext and singing the melody. You will succeed.


If you play these progression on a keyboard you‘d better play the beat in quarter notes instead of whole notes as written.

  • Didn't the Shadows use this one? And isn't it difficult while playing keyboard?
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 11:46

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