If you’re playing rhythm guitar, one of the most important aspects (as the name suggests) is keeping in rhythm. Now, this doesn’t just stand for playing the guitar; all musicians need to have some form of rhythm as it’s a fundamental aspect of playing music. Many tools can help such as using a metronome while practising or rhythm games such as Rocking around the Rhythm Clock created by Janice Tuck of the Fun Music Company.
Both methods are fantastic for teaching and improving rhythm but they require a little bit of forethought and planning and can also, in the case of the metronome practice can be incredibly tedious! Hence the birth of this blog post. To help students improve their rhythm by using music they hear almost every day by using these ten songs. These songs are not in any particular order. I’ve tried to go for songs that have an easy to find the rhythm and are in 4/4 time.
1. Ed Sheeran – Castles On The Hill
This song was the original inspiration for this blog post. A nice and simple drum beat keeps the rhythm in 4/4 almost as if it’s a metronome itself. Start off clapping along with the bass drum. The way the song has been mixed gives you the ability to hear bass drum and rhythm almost entirely throughout the song!
If you’re someone who is a fan of Ed Sheeran and loves listening to his music, he also features on my 5 Easy to Play Songs post.
2. Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Dani California
For those who like the pop-punk scene this song by Red Hot Chilli Peppers has a slightly faster 4/4 rhythm and is also disguised slightly more in the mix. You also have an easier way of clapping 8th notes as well. Try it out! 🙂
3. KT Tunstall – Black Horse and a Cherry Tree
This song is perfect for practising 8th note rhythm (1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &). Listen closely to the guitar muted strums to help.
4. The Chainsmokers – Closer
If you’re looking for something a little more challenging and less obvious why not try out this song by Chainsmokers – if you’re struggling with all the various synths and effects try listening to this cover by Walk off the Earth to help! – if not to make it easier to hear, it’s just cool anyway!
5. Jack Johnson – Upside Down
Just like Curious George in this video how about getting curious about the rhythm in this song. 8th and 16ths are pretty good here try it out and see what you can find!
6. Justin Bieber/Luis Fonsi – Despacito
Another popular song with my pupils recently and has already been included in one of my other lists this popular track by Justin Bieber can help you practice 8th notes rhythm. It’s also slow enough to try 16th Notes (1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a). There is a nice steady beat in this one to help you connect with either so if you get lost just listen for the 1, 2, 3, 4 in the bass drum.
7. Jessie J – Domino
Another perfect four on the floor drum rhythm to keep you in time, take a listen and see if you can keep in time.
8. Ed Sheeran – Shape of You
Another Ed Sheeran song that’s great for rhythms, it’s also a nice test as you’ve got to listen and keep in time during the chorus as the instrumentation completely stops. Giving you the chance to test yourself.
9. Rag’n’Bone Man – Human
Listen closely to the chorus to hear the 8th note rhythms and see if you can keep it up in the verse which only gives you the offbeat! Give it a go!
10. Mark Ronson – Valerie ft Amy Winehouse
8th Notes rhythm (or fast quarter if you’re Mark Ronson) are a-plenty here for you to practice. You also get the opportunity to test to see if you can keep rhythm when the tempo changes.
For those of you who are used to listening to music and have been playing for a few years might think…well yes doesn’t everyone know that you need to listen to music to improve your rhythm? It sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many never consider it. Try these out and see if you can find any others when listening to the radio or music around you!