Both musicians and non-musicians generally appreciate music that has a steady tempo and solid rhythm. So why is it a challenge for instrumentalists to play with steady time and solid rhythm? There are likely a couple of reasons for this; thinking while playing, not knowing the material well enough and so on. In this article though we will talk about the spacial and time issues that contribute to shaky time and rhythm.
Distances between notes vary and time is steady. We need to practice moving from one note to the next while keeping very steady time. Pick an interval and decide to play that interval on one string or crossing over to a different string. This gives us a spacial shape to work with on the guitar. Next set a metronome and try playing that shape in a variety of positions.
Since the fret distances get shorter further up the neck and strings widths vary as well, we find that conditions change for the shape we are working with. Our constant is the tempo and rhythm we are working with. The hand needs to compensate for the varied distances while maintaining the time.
- Work with one interval shape at a time.
- Keep it to two notes.
- Practice the shape with a several tempos.
- Use triplet and sixteenth note subdivisions.
Move the hand quickly to the next note location making fret hand attack the note at just the right time. We want to make sure that the fret hand plays the time and doesn’t rely on the picking hand for time. Guitar is very challenging for this reason. Try these ideas out and take your time with every interval and practice at slow tempos.