Music is language, so let’s start thinking about it as one. How often do you have to think about a word before you speak it? I’m betting the answer is not very often.
Don’t you think it would to be your own great advantage to think of musical phrases that way?
Rhythms work in a very similar manner as words. They may as well be words. There are many common occurrences. If you get to know them, you won’t have to think before you can play them. This should be the goal for any player.
At first, when students start to learn the many variations of 16th notes they have to count out every subdivision of the beat. This is totally natural.
To be effective at remembering songs, sight reading and jamming you must be faster. Breaking things down will slow you down.
To do this effectively you’ll have to memorize the sound of each of the variations. Eventually, you won’t need to count them. When I see……. I hear da-dada
When I see example 1 ….. I hear daaaa-dada
When I see example 2: I hear dada-daaaa
When I see a bar like this:
It’s kind of like reading, “I ate the best tacos for lunch today”. Ok, we it doesn’t literally say that, but you get the idea. It’s a series of words that make sense. It’s a series of rhythms that make sense. Ya dig? And btw, there really are amazing tacos on the corner near my Brooklyn apartment. Just saying.
This is a long term project. Be patient. Knowing what the end game is though can make the travel less painful. Think of it like traveling through the northeast countryside in the fall as opposed to cornfields. Ok, that was a little dramatic. Memorizing rhythms isn’t that fun. But, the avenues it will open up will be so much fun!!
Music is a listening art. Listen to music as much as you can and try to pick out familiar rhythms. It’s like finding Waldo for musicians. Warning: Don’t let Waldo use your bathroom. He will ask, but don’t trust that dude.
When I transcribe a song or sight read a chart, I don’t have to think 1e-a. I immediately know the sound.
Down the line this means that instead of needing to analyze each beat of a measure, you can look at the whole bar as a sentence.
It’s much better to think of music as sentences. After all, the music is trying to express something. If you simply looked at only the words in a paragraph you would never really know what is being said. To stare at one tree is not to see the forest.
There is a great app called the Rhythm Trainer for iPad and iPhone. This allows you to work on your rhythm skills while on the go.
learn more about rhythms as language