I'm a singer, but I am getting anxious because of being rhythmically challenged. I've had vocal training, but none seemed to really know how to help me out in this respect. I'm fine with everything else but this.

I can sing along to a song track or singing along with other people, but when it comes to singing to a backing track or instrumentals that don't have a clear cut beat as well, I get so lost. I can tap my foot to the beat and everything, but when I have to sing as well, I sound like a robot I've heard. I'm not much of an instrumentalist so when I do practice myself, I just play the chords on every beat of each measure. I can sing fine like this or when I have a metronome on or if I have the sheet music in front of me, but otherwise I have difficulties as to where I am in the song.

If someone is playing the piano and it's mostly arpeggios and such or guitar without strumming but only fingering, I cannot for the life of me keep the rhythm and beat of the song. If there is a beat I can latch onto, I will keep beat by tapping my foot, but I can only keep that up for so long because my foot gets tired from continuously tapping to every single beat and it doesn't look too good when performing. Another thing I do to try and keep rhythm and the beat for performances is to just memorize the sheet music itself to know exactly when to come in and when to cut off, but that is becoming difficult to do every time. I want to be able to feel the rhythm so I just need to memorize the lyrics and melody.

I also asked a lot of my musician friends and all they can tell me is that they just feel it so they know where they are in the song or when to come in, etc.

Is there anything I can do to fix this? I see so many people who aren't even musicians or ever formally learned music who has rhythm and can keep beat while they sing.

  • 1
    Use a metronome. If you can sing it slow with a metronome accurately... job done. When I learn a hard rhythm on the drums, this is what I do. Your question is still a little vague, I can't tell if you are having trouble understanding rhythm from a theoretical standpoint or...? Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 19:08
  • It's just that I don't seem to have an internal sense of rhythm. I can sing using a metronome. But if there is no steady pulse, I just get lost. For example, if the song is in 4/4 and there is only a guitar for the instrumental but they only play 16th notes, I just get completely lost as to where the song is.
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 3:34
  • I think you're right - flagged.
    – Stinkfoot
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 8:31
  • 1
    Reminds me of when I dropped a singer off after a gig. Went back half an hour after to return his mic. He's standing outside his house. "What's up" said I. "Can't find the right key" he said. Went up the road to turn round. Passed his house, he's still standing in the cold. "What's up now?" "Found the key, don't know when to come in..." Bit like the gig!
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 7:59

2 Answers 2



Find a friend to play piano or guitar with you, with a metronome or drum machine. Then gradually remove the metronome, a little at a time. First a few measures, then maybe half of a verse, then a whole verse, etc. (You could do this own your own as well, with recordings and electronics, but having a friend to help will make it easier.)

By doing it in small steps you will begin to feel the rhythm on your own and develop confidence - eventually you'll be able to do a whole song - or a whole concert!


I have a few ideas about this

  1. Try to listen to the beat and hear what kind of rhythmic elements are going on around it whenever you listen to music.

  2. Maybe approach learning to identify pulse in the same way that a beginning drummer might. For example, put on a song and tap quarter notes, 8th notes, triplets, 16th notes all the way through the song.

  3. This book is full of rhythms in 4/4. Put on a metronome and start to work through some of the examples in this book, it might help you to feel some rhythmic subdivisions that might be causing you to lose the pulse.

    Modern Reading Text in 4/4

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.