Playing rhythmically

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Unfortunately this course has much more pages on how to play in tune than how to play rhythmically correct. It should be the opposite. It is when you play rhythmically you catch the audience. Playing dance music means keeping the beat. It is however difficult to describe in words what a good rhythm is. Here some good hints on how to learn how top play rhythmic:


  1. Practice together with CD's, records, mp3's or even the radio
  2. Play together with other people
  3. Play for dancers
  4. Find a good metronome
  5. Get a good feeling for playing
  6. Go out and play for people, visit bars, and other places where you may perform your music.

When you play it is important to keep a steady beat. But remember that making the rhythm interesting means making small rhythmical changes between every note. Giving the melody a feel and good phrasing. Using microagoical changes.



Practice with records, CD's or mp3's

Find a good record with some music that you like. If you cannot follow: use a computer program that can slow the music down, without changing the pitch.(There are several programs on the market that can do that.)

Don't stop when you have learnt the melody. Try to concentrate on phrases, and agagics. See if you can copy the small changes within the rhythm that makes the music to music.

Don't be afraid of copying a style. The better you get in your ability to copy other peoples styles, the better you will be to pick up the style of the people you are playing together with. The better you will get to make a uniform style.

Use a sordine on your violin and put on headphones in the start, in order to better hear the expresion of the musiscians you want to copy. Repeat the piece you want to learn over and over again. When you feel you have learnt it, turn off the CD, or mp3, and check that you can do the same expression, that you are copying.

Record yourself, and listen to for differences. And correct those differences.

Look at it this way: The more styles you learn, the more tools you will have in your bag when you are creating your own style when you are performing.

You may end up having another expression than the musician you are copying, but that should be you selecing a better expression. While you are learning you should copy as precicely as possible. Beeing able to copy will make yourself a better musician, when playing together. (See below)

If you are learning from a midi-file, remember that midi music is not music. It does not contain any phrasing making it live. Here you have to do the job yourself of putting feelings into the music.

Play together

When you are playing together with other you are forced to keep a good rhythm. However your orchestra, or group gets better if you talk about rythm and musical expression. Use the knowledge that you learn while practicing with records to adapt your ryhmical expression to the one of your fellow musician. Copy it if you can. I have earlier mentioned, that it is a good idea too look at the bowing of your collegue in order to follow his rythm. Teach your collegue violinist how to look at your bowing, so you can better strive towards a common goal of producing a unison rythm.

If you do not like what he is doing, you can better tell him first with words, then with an example, how you want it instead. Very few people like to hear about their own mistakes, it is better to tell people what to do, than what you should not do.

Lean back on the beat

The most common error when playing together is to play faster and faster. This is because if somebody is a little bit before the beat, everybody will hear that, and feel that they are behind, they try to catch up, but the if guy playing before the beat continues to do so, he will also be before the faster beat. When you play before the beat, everybody will here it, because often there is a small pause between every tone. If you lean back and play after the beat, the other people will not hear it in the same way, because now you are playing in their tone. The trick to lean back is to do it just over some chosen tones, where you want a special effect, where you want people to listen. Keep up with the basic beat inside you so you do not loose the pulse of the music.

Play for dancers

It is a privilege to play for dancers. Try to communicate with the dancers while you are playing. Can you feel that they like what you are doing. Try to locate the best couple on the floor and follow their movement.Music is communication. Music and dance grew up together.




Don't buy a traditional metronome. They are dull to play with. The best metronome I know is the program Band in a Box.It is more than a metronome, it is almost like playing iwth a band. If you are interested in Swedish traditional music, I have made a polska metronome (by using Band in a Box.)

I have made some online examples using Band In a box, and put them on my site here and here

Practice slowly

When you start playing a new melody. Practice slowly. Keep the beet, but do it slowly. Playing slowly in the start is the fastest way of learning how to play fast. Cut the melody into phrases. Practice phrases that are difficult by repeating these phrases only. When you feel confident that you now the melody you can gradually increase speed. Make sure that when you are increasing the speed, that you do it in steps. (So you do not learn how to play accelerando, you should always keep the beat when you are playing). You may have to practice the same melody several month until you can play it in it's real tempo.

Learn to play fast

It is good to be able to play fast. If you can play fast, you will be more precise also when you are playing slow melodies. You have to be very precise in order to play rhythmically correct.

Take a simple melody. For example "Soldiers joy". Increase the speed gradually until you can play it really fast. Be sure that you are relaxed when you play it. Don't force yourself.