Basic Rhythm FAQ and
Useful Singing Tips and Exercises!

Basic Rhythm Sense is certainly an important criteria for singing, and is one of the most basic factors, together with pitching, that decide whether you sing well or not.

Here on this webpage, I will lay out many tips that answer the FAQ (frequently asked questions) regarding rhythm and singing, as well as how to correct some of the common mistakes we make in our beat and tempo when singing.



For those who wish to check out other singing tips and FAQ, do click on this link provided now.

Feel free to also send in your questions about singing by using the ‘Contact Us’ Form that is provided for you on my website.

Ok, here are the various basic rhythm tips and related FAQ for your reference:

Question ONE:

When I sing, I always do not know when to start singing and when to stop. I am usually late and the song starts off without me. What should I do?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

It sounds like you do not have any idea as to the timing or beat of the song that you are singing, and on which beat you should begin to sing.

A simple way to correct this problem would be for you to first catch the kick drum parts in the music of the song. By listening to the kick drum, we are usually able to know which is the first beat of each bar, and use this to guide you when we sing.

If there are no drums in the music for the song, listen to the piano or guitar playing, and try to catch the accents in the playing. Some chords or notes are played louder, and others are played softer. Usually, the first beat of each bar is accented and we can use this to guide us when we sing.

You should also try to tap along to the music when you are singing, and see if u can achieve a steady tapping rhythm with a regular tempo or beat. This will be the beat for the song, and will be useful to you as a singer.

Once you have this steady basic rhythm, you can count how many beats or taps it takes from the kick drum parts, before you start singing. This will give you a clearer idea of how long to wait, and how many taps it takes before you open your mouth to sing.

Of course, this is a tedious process, and the easier method would be for you to develop a good sense of body rhythm for singing (Refer to Question Three below).

Check out my recommendations for good rhythm training books and hopefully some of them will be able to help you in your quest for better singing rhythm!

Question TWO:

What are the basic time structures for songs, and why is this important for me to know when I sing?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

There are many beat or time structures for the songs that we sing, but the most basic ones are a simple 4-beat or 3-beat rhythm.

Songs can usually be sub-divided into bars, and each bar usually either has 3 or 4 beats. It feels a bit like a repetitive rhythm, repeating itself over and over again.

For example, when you dance a waltz, you can usually count “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3…” for many many times throughout the dance. This means that a waltz has a 3-beat rhythm pattern, and each bar has 3 beats!

If you were to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, you would be able to count “1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4…” throughout the song, and this means that this nursery rhyme has a 4-beat rhythm pattern, with 4 beats per bar.

So the next time you sing, try to tap either 3 beats or 4 beats, and you should be able to find a beat structure that fits the song well.

Once you know this basic rhythm for the song that you are singing, you would have a better idea of the 1st beat of each bar, and this is important for singing.

Usually when we sing, we accent the first beats of each bar, or at least we give it greater dynamics in our singing or emphasise our body movements. It also guides us in knowing when to start or stop singing, and the first beat of each bar gives us a good idea as to how long to wait before we start singing each phrase.

It is something like a reference marker that resurfaces regularly every now and then throughout the song, and from this marker, we are able to gauge how long to wait before we start singing each phrase.

This is why it is important for us to know the basic time or beat structure for the songs that we sing!

To check out some important ear training exercises so that you will be able to develop a better sense of listening needed for great singing!

Question THREE:

What is body rhythm or groove, and how do I develop it?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

As a singer, I am sure you always hear people mentioning the words ‘groove’ or ‘body rhythm’ when you talk about basic rhythm for singing.

Groove is something that can be felt, and it varies from song to song. It is related to the feel of the song, and depends heavily on the rhythm structures of the music that you sing to.

Body rhythm is also something that relates to groove, and it refers to how we can feel the rhythm of a song using our body, and this is reflected in our movements, whether we bob up and down, or we sway left to right during a song, or even how we move on stage.

To develop body rhythm or groove in our singing, we need to first develop our basic rhythm sense, and be really sure about the time and rhythm structures for the songs that we sing. (Refer to Question One and Two above)

Once we have this, we can then start to improvise or make slight changes to the way we sing and the rhythms that we use, so that it is still within the basic rhythm structure for the song, and yet still sounds unique and interesting!

We would also be able to move better to music, and let our audience see us totally in sync with the music for the songs we sing, with our movements falling to the correct timing or beats and sometimes even synchronizing with the accents in the song.

This takes a lot of training and good rhythm sense, and it is important for us to start with basic rhythm training to get a good foundation before we can present good body rhythm or groove onstage.

Try to listen to the singers that you love, and learn to analyze why is it that you love their singing. Could it be because they have a great sense of groove or rhythm?

Question FOUR:

How does clapping help me to improve on my basic rhythm sense?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

There a number of ways to clap in order to improve on our rhythm sense. One way is to clap along with the main beats of the song, meaning, to just clap “1, 2, 3, 4” to a 4-beat song.

You can try this by clapping to Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ song, especially during the chorus, clapping whenever she sings ‘Ella.. Ella.. Eh.. Eh.. Eh…”! This is because these words are sung on beat, together with the main beats of the song.

A second way to clap in order to improve on your basic rhythm feel is to clap the melody of the song while the singer is singing. Just follow the singer and the words that he or she is singing, but instead of singing the words, just clap the basic rhythm out.

This will make you more aware of the rhythm structure of the song, and also when to start singing and when to stop. This will also let you understand how long to wait before starting to sing each sentence.

Of course, one main reason why clapping will improve your rhythm sense is because it involves a different part of your body – your hands – instead of you just using your mouth to sing.

If you are able to coordinate your clapping while you are singing, and clapping the rhythm of the song that you are singing, while you are singing the lyrics, then I am sure that you would have improved on your rhythm sense tremendously.

Some of my students are quite unable to clap and sing at the same time, and you can actually try clapping the main beat of a song, while singing the words to it. This will help you to keep a steady tempo and develop your sense of body rhythm too!

If you need to work on other basics of singing apart from rhythm, check out the link provided now.

Question FIVE:

I usually move out of sync with the music of the song that I am singing, and my movements are not in sync with the beats. Can you help me?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

For starters, you can try a simple movement exercise. Just sway from left to right, counting “1, 2, 3, 4” while you are swaying. Can you do this?

Everytime you count “1, 2”, you can sway to the left. Everytime you count “3, 4”, you can sway to the right.

If you are able to do this easily and steadily, then you would achieved a steady sense of basic rhythm and beat.

Now, try to count the beats of a song that you sing, and while counting the beats, try to sway left and right according to the beat of the song.

It will feel as though you are a pendulum, swaying left and right and keeping time for the song while it is being played or sung.

Once you are able to sway like this, you can try just taking one step to the right with your right leg, and closing your legs by pulling the left leg towards your right.

Then, step to the left with your left leg first, and close your legs by pulling your right leg towards your left. This is called the ‘sidestep’, and it is another basic movement that you can try while singing.

With this sidestep movement, try to move together with the beat of the music, keeping time with your steps and making sure that each step coincides with the main beats of the song.

If you are able to do this, I can say that you would have achieved a basic rhythm sense and are well on your way towards improving your sense of body rhythm!

Well, I hope that these tips on basic rhythm and beats have answered some of the FAQs that may have been at the back of your mind.

You can certainly send me your queries using our ‘Contact Us’ form and I will do my best to answer your questions either on this website or in a private email conversation!

You can also check out some good rhythm training guidebooks and CDs by clicking on the link provided. Hope that they will be useful to you!

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