I just read a really great post here about teaching someone rhythm so they could play guitar, someone who seemed to have no rhythm at all. Someone suggested getting them to groove a bit to a song and feel it, tap their feet, etc.

What if they can't do that - groove to a beat in a song that is. They can't stay on beat or seem to feel the beat at all in songs. Any suggestions on how to get through that? To get them to be able to tap their foot to a beat and keep it? Or move to a beat- even sway to a beat?

  • I guess, like singing in tune, there are some who just can't do it. After all there is actually no reason why we should be able to, is there?
    – Tim
    Aug 28 '16 at 17:48
  • Duplicate of 'how can I teach a student who seems to have no rhythm'?
    – Tim
    Aug 29 '16 at 6:54
  • Have you taught them to verbalize the rhythm first? One-and-two-and-three-and-four-and-one-and-two....and so on. Use your hands to give them cues while they count to let them know if they are going too fast or slow.
    – shaunxer
    Sep 29 '16 at 20:52

Have them count to four out loud repeatedly. If they can't count smoothly and evenly through the 4 to 1 transition then you might have a big problem. If they can count it then have them clap on each number while they count out loud. After that it's just incremental increases in complexity until they understand basic rhythm.

  • 1
    Reciting poems - even limericks, or times tables, or singing (chanting?) along with known songs will help somewhat. Follow clapping with finger clicking alternatively, foot tapping. The list is nigh on endless, to expand, also allieviate boredom...
    – Tim
    Aug 28 '16 at 12:07

I teach piano, not guitar, but I have had some success by simply using a metronome to get the student to really hear the rhythm. Some students simply do not have the ability to hear rhythm when listening to a song, and that's fine. It just takes them a little longer. Once they've played a song with a metronome a few times, it becomes easier for them to picture the rhythm in their head, and they eventually won't need the metronome to help them. Hope this helps!


Take a look at some of the Suzuki Method techniques used for younger students. I recall my child's teacher running a variety of group-timing exercises to help the students get a feel for even tempi.

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