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When I am jamming along a song, I do get carried away especially after the chorus when strumming is emphasised. I tend to speed up. You see in intro strumming is kinda not so much emphasised, it's calm and nice but during the Chorus, you could here more of drums or rhythm guitar, at this point I tend to get carried away and not keep up with the tempo of the song. Example is "God is Able" cover by Brian Wahl. Check on YouTube. How do I work on this?

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    Hi Cheruiyot. Could you make your question more specific? Maybe a particular song where the problem occurs and a description of specifically what happens, and when, while you play along. Also, do you mean "time signature", or are you just asking how to maintain a steady musical pulse?
    – Aaron
    Feb 22 at 19:34
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    I'm guessing Aaron is working on a great answer, and I'll let him go first so I don't duplicate anything. But the short version of mine is 1) play with a metronome or backing track, 2) be aware of beats and bars that are bigger than your strumming pattern, and 3) changing tempo on purpose (or at least with your own awareness) doesn't always have to be a bad thing. Feb 22 at 21:01
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    @AndyBonner -- for people who need to work on their time I prefer metronome to backing tracks for at least some dedicated practice; metronomes aren't forgiving, where backing tracks can hide slop in a player's time.
    – user39614
    Feb 22 at 21:09
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    @exnihilo Makes sense, but I prescribe backing tracks heavily when teaching beginners, since even using a metronome effectively can involve a number of learned skills that aren't taken for granted, and a track makes it more obvious when you've "gotten off" (as well as providing some other benefits like pitch and harmony reinforcement). Sure, a metronome is a better tool to really get in there and hone skill, but if the question is "how do I even keep one tempo," I'm figuring we're at a fundamental level. Feb 22 at 21:14
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    Metronomes are less forgiving, indeed, but also not very musical-sounding, and in my own experience and observing others "being able to play and sync with a metronome" is a significant skill in itself. Playing with other musicians (or maybe just tracks) and working to get tempos consistent may be easier for many beginners. "It sounds like music", instead of the "abstract" metronome. Feb 22 at 23:40

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We're nearly into the old chestnut 'metronome versus backing track', and both have their place, at different points.

Your problem seems to be when something is simple, you keep up, and when it gets more complex and exciting, you speed up. Seems to be a common fact - happens when people speak, at very least. And quite a few drummers are prone to it - myself included.

Simple answer is better listening. At the point you go off on one, so to speak, you need to switch both ears to max. What is happening is that your natural rhythm pulse is taken over by excitement, whatever, and ears tend to take a back seat.

Now - practice - as with most things, will improve matters. But how? Leaving out the extra problem of strumming for now, simply use a metronome (or backing track..!) set for say, 100bpm. Clap/tap along to it, get the feel of the rhythm, walk away, and hear if you're still in time a few seconds later, on returning. Change the bpm, maybe the feel of the backing track (straight to swing, for example), and repeat.

Counting out loud sometimes helps, with emphasis, rather like a lot of pieces, on one.

Back to metronome! Said a few times, use it in different ways. Set for, say, 70bpm, and use the clicks not as 1-2-3-4 but &-&-&-&, so you clap where 1-2-3-4 would be. Or set for 70bpm and make each click mean 2 and 4, you clapping the whole 4 beats.This will internalise rhythms in a different way. There's a myriad of other ideas using this concept - impossible to do with backing tracks - even mere drumtracks.

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  • I did try today to listen for metronome clicks before doing anything then mute the strings and strum on the beats. When I realised that I'm a bit going off track, I realised the issues was listening. Listening by itself internalise rhythm. So the answer seems to be listen and internalise where the emphasis is. I did this for quarter and 8th notes. 16th notes is bit complex for now especially after 70bpm. Feb 23 at 16:53

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