Teaching advice...Helping my son find rhythm.?.

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by wooldl, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. wooldl

    wooldl Member

    May 23, 2003
    NE 1/4 Section 35
    My son really wants to be able to play guitar like his old man. Timing, rhythm and picking up new tunes comes very naturally to me now. Practice, practice, practice. However, his sense of timing and rhythm is just horrible and I can't get him to work with the metronome I bought him. Last night I sat down on our drums and played a simple beat for him to follow and I don't think he even realized that he was getting completely ahead of me.

    I am looking for some teaching advice that I can use. Maybe to help reinforce the importance of using a metronome. Or maybe he will never have rhythm?

    It's killing me that he is not getting it when he wants to so badly.

    Thanks, Dale
  2. dave s

    dave s Member

    Apr 24, 2003
    NE Ohio
    How old is he? My guess is that a sense of timing possibly comes later than sooner. Try this as a test: Give your son a pair of drumsticks, sit down with some music and have him click the sticks on 1 and 3. This should tell you if he actually hears and can identify rhythm and timing.

    If he's under 12 years old, I'd bet he's not getting it yet. If he's much older than that, he might not have that built-in meter some of us have!


  3. bickertfan

    bickertfan Member

    Oct 13, 2005
    Dart, NS - Canada
    Dale, My experience with my 5 year playing piano is that you have to be patient. My daughter is slowly learning to play in time just through repetition and practice. Other things that helped for us were clapping the rythm of a simple melody, just to convey that a half note has to sustain for 2 beats etc and children seem to like learning that way (via mimicry). Simplify to a point where the child can successfully accomplish it and then gradually increase the difficulty. It's a lot of fun to have something to share with our children.
  4. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2005
    It takes time, more for some then others. I am very untalented and it took me 2 years of consisent practice and playing (something to the order of practicing 1 song for about 5 times a day every day) before I was able to play it. ... mind you it involved ONLY G C D and Bm Em (in the chors) chords.
    Yep I suck bad at music. But now 10 years later I can strum pretty much anything in the right pattern/beat at will (Chords only though)

    As long as he is motivated and really wants to get it, just let him practice a song or something and each day it will get a little better.
  5. PlexiBreath

    PlexiBreath Member

    Aug 6, 2002
    La Quinta, California
    I can't believe I'm saying this but, maybe Disco might be your solution. Or the modern version of Disco, that eletronic stuff with the constant over-the-top kick "drum" going "Boom-chick-Boom-chick-Boom-chick-Boom-chick", something with a pulse so strong you cant possibly miss it. Get him to stamp his feet to the beat. There are actually studies about this kind of beat as something in our DNA, all cultures have a version of it, a primal pulse, it's the same beat on polka "Umpa Umpa Umpa Umpa" or Marachi. Just an idea.
  6. t0neg0d

    t0neg0d Member

    Aug 5, 2005
    Bellevue, WA
    Honestly... the best thing you can do for him is to get him started on drum lessons. He will learn it from a mechanics standpoint to start, without the interruption of melody.

    The other approach you can take is introduce him to sequencing. It will visually show him how rhythm works and he can instantly hear the results of what he does. This will instill basic rhythm concepts and make it easier to teach and apply that to guitar.

  7. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

    Aug 9, 2004
    Atlanta, Georgia
    In my experience, that pretty much nails it. Find a rhythm that the little munchkin enjoys, and first have them clap. Turn it into a "game", and try to think back on how things struck you as a child. When it's time to actually translate the rhythm to the instrument, take the tempo down to a snail's pace. The difference between when to use upstrokes vs. downstrokes (on the guitar) is key, in achieving "groove". The universally accepted symbol for an upstroke is an arrow that points downward, which is consistently confusing to a child (I don't get it either). I use a yellow highlighter pen to mark where the upstrokes should fall within a piece of music, which seems to help.

    I don't have any children of my own, but I truly enjoy the opportunity to teach, and (hopefully) positively impact, the future endeavors of little people. The future of the music that we will listen to in years to come is all on our children, and I take the responsibility quite seriously. Many of my associates refuse to take on pupils of less than intermediate ability, but I have always awarded my utmost care in teaching youngsters, and really, it has taught me more about life than most anything else that I can think of.

    Lastly, never under-estimate the learning capacity of a child, as their mental files have not yet been polluted by the hard knocks of life, and they can assimilate new concepts more readily than many adults might think. You just have to find a way to relate to their world. And it's highly worth the effort of doing so.
  8. rorschah

    rorschah Member

    May 7, 2005
    I think a lot of rhythm comes from listening.

    Something really rhythmic.

    Like get him into Muddy Waters. That sludge of a country blues beat. Da DUH da DUH da DUH. Let him dig it for a long while. Then see if he can play with that beat. Because the beat there, uh, it ain't exactly subtle.

  9. neve1073

    neve1073 Member

    Jun 25, 2005
    A big spliff and some early Bob Marley? :)

    Just kidding. Good suggestions above.
  10. lhallam

    lhallam Member

    Mar 4, 2004
    My son has a bongo game with his PS-2. It's a pair of bongos that you play along with visual cues. It grades you if you miss the beat altogether, are a little late or fast or if you are right on. It's fun and he's learning rhythm.

    Having him clap along with you or recordings is a good exercise as well.
  11. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Soho, NYC
    This is what came to mind once I read the title. Rhythm's pretty fun when I'm not taking myself so seriously. There's probably lots of cool, creative games you can make (and play with him) that will put the rhythm bug in his mind and body.
  12. lookslikemeband

    lookslikemeband Member

    Dec 23, 2004
    This may be a dumb suggestion, but when I was a "newbie" to guitar, I just put on tons and tons of tapes (yes, I'm old!) that I really liked and "tried" to play along.

    MOST 80's recordings were done with a click track (as are many today.. but they got away from it in the early 90's with the "let's go with the flow mentality"), and you'd be hard pressed to find tighter rhythms to play with.

    I do this with MY guitar students (have them look and listen for drummers who are REALLY, REALLY tight!)

    Some suggestions if I may (I don't know his tastes, so here are a variety):

    • The Police
    • U2
    • Bob Seger
    • Metallica
    • Collective Soul
    • Pearl Jam

    As he gets better, I'd move him into more "progressive" drumming territory:

    • Tool
    • Cream
    • Dave Matthews
    • Sevendust

    Last, but not least... If he's into it... Have him play along with rap. I know it sounds crazy, but the rhythms are really tight, and it'll give him room to start improving ON the meter. I do it... and you'll be amazed at what can happen.

    Good luck!!

  13. Tomo

    Tomo Member

    Apr 16, 2004
    Boston, Mass
    Metronome can be use for keeping time...

    He needs to work on sense of time feel. So I would suggest
    work on alternate picking technique with simple rhythm figures.

    Mix of some quarters and 8th notes.
    Down beat is down stroke, up beat is upstroke.

    I was really bad rhythm player first.

    He has many chances.

    Individually each person has own pace so you can try to find
    right path for him. Please don't just force "homework" feel him
    ,he feels you... then he will find his pockets.

  14. VSpaceBoy

    VSpaceBoy Member

    Oct 20, 2005
    Only thing that can help is practice. Over and Over again.

    Teach him how to play a simple song or two that he really enjoys. Then have him jam along with the song often.
  15. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

    Aug 9, 2004
    Atlanta, Georgia
    For the little Christmas goody bags that I put together this year for my younger students, I included rhythm shaker "eggs". Kids seem to be fascinated with the eggs, and they do in fact promote rhythmic curiousity amongst munchkins. Have the child shake a rhythm that they dig with the egg, and then ask them to duplicate the rhythm with a strummed chord on the guitar. Play the rhythm for them, utilizing all downstrokes, vs. a combination of upstrokes and downstrokes, and ask them to listen to the difference in sound and feel. Have them do the same with their guitars.

    Rhythm eggs only cost a buck or two, but are actually a legitimate percussion instrument. My pop band recently used an egg on a track where a tambourine was a bit too obvious and over-the-top.
  16. Patch

    Patch Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2004
    Montreal, Qc
    You can also try with some Funk music. It's a 4/4 but more syncopated. When you hear this type of music, you don't have the choice to move your foot, head, backbones! And it's a lot better than rap!!!
  17. proreverb68

    proreverb68 Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    If hes very young....using a hand drum is a fun way to get into that space.

    YOu might play a rhythm and have him/her...copy it on another drum.
    PLay some 4/4 and let them copy it...ride with it...then lay off and let them hold the beat while you add little things to it.

    You can then play something on the drum and see if they can match it on guitar.
    All kinds of variations. copying,leading,following..making phrases..simple at first and then lengthening them etc.
    My younger students love this little game.
    Rhythm can be worked on wihtou a guitar or with it.
    Either wasy its being worked on and will translate.
    Having a student play a few comping chords..or notes along to a james Zbrown repeating groove is another way to keep it alive.
    Remember that a teacher is also about helping the student stay inspired.
    Fun is a good way to accomplish that.
    Try something new...if it works youll see the smile and know your doing it right.
  18. amper

    amper Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Well, my daughter is now just shy of nine months old, and just the other day began to clap her hands, so I'm thrilled...

    But, the first thing you might want to talk about with your son is about the rhythm instruments he already possesses.

    His heart. The heartbeat is the most primal rhythm that exists.

    His walking pace. Probably the second most primal rhythm. It's so important that "Andante" is a standard tempo classification, derived from the Italian "andare" (to walk).
  19. onemind

    onemind Member

    Oct 28, 2004
    Oceanside, NY
    When both my sons were beginning musicians, I only insisted they focused ninety percent of their energy on listening. Playing was secondary for a long long time, listening, finding the beat, slowing down (quarter notes to start) Then eighth notes with the foot attached to the pick hand up and down tied together, all the while listening.
  20. bluesbreaker59

    bluesbreaker59 Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    out in the cornfields
    The same way I've taught my guitar students:

    Make them listen to:

    -AC/DC (this is where I learned rhythm)
    -Chuck Berry

    Make him play along with something like Highway to Hell or Johnny B Goode, those really helped me, and are easy 3 chord rock songs.

    I also recommend the Muddy Waters stop time beat.

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