Don’t Have a Guitar but Have a Clock?

timing practice with clock

If you don’t have a guitar handy, but time to kill and are near a ticking clock, then here are 10 timing and rhythm exercises.

 

The basis behind this timing working out:

 

A clock ticks 60 times a minute, once per second in fact. This is the same as setting your metronome to 60 BPM.

 

You can (at best) make a little noise either clapping or clicking your fingers.

 

Let’s get down to business!

 

 

Timing Exercise #1: Simple – Quartet notes

Time length: 5 minutes

Start off by clapping (or clicking your fingers) once per click – Each clap is a quarter note. Try this for 5 minutes (that’s 300 claps!), make sure you get it in time with each click and that each clap is even and last the same length.

 

 

Timing Exercise #2: Double – Eighth notes

Time length: 5 minutes

Now let’s try 8th notes. So that is two claps per tick. Again make each clap count, make it even and just as good as the last! Try 8th notes for 5 minutes.

 

 

Timing Exercise #3: Division – Sixteenth notes

Time length: 5 minutes

How are we doing? Good I hope!  Next up is 16th or 4 claps per tick. At this point you should be able to feel the timing. Continue clapping 16th for 5 minutes.

 

 

Timing Exercise #4: Mix #1 – Quartet and Eighth notes

Time length: 5 minutes

Let’s mix things up a little. How about trying to clap, two bars of ¼ notes followed by two bars of 8th notes, then repeat. You’ll be doubling then halving ever two bars! You might need to concentrate a little harder on this as it can be tricky. Again 5 minutes for this one!

 

 

Timing Exercise #5: Mix #2 –  Eighth and Sixteenth notes

Time length: 5 minutes

Now try, 2 bars of 8th notes, then 2 bars of 16th notes, keep repeating this for 5 minutes.

 

 

Timing Exercise #6: Hard Mix – Quarter, Eighth and Sixteenth notes

Time length: 3 minutes

Getting harder now, let’s have a go at this: 2 bars of 1/4 notes, 2 bars of 8th notes, 2 bars of 16th notes, 2 bars of 1/8th notes, keep repeating this pattern until you’ve been doing it for 5 minutes.

 

 

Timing Exercise #7: Harder Mix – Quarter, Eighth and Sixteenth notes

Time length: 2 minutes

Instead of two bars, let’s try the above just with single bars. Hard! Give it a go!

 

 

Timing Exercise #8: Triplets

Time length: 5 minutes

Triplets are just three notes in the space of two. If we try to play 8th note triples over the tick, we will play three notes per tick. Make each clap even, equal and just as good as the last one. Give it a go for 5 minutes!

 

 

Timing Exercise #9: Shuffle

Time length: 5 minutes

Got the 8th note triplets happening? Try to not play the second one. You’ll be clapping a blues shuffle. Sound good huh? I do hope so!

 

 

Timing Exercise #10: Advanced – Try if you dare!

Time length: 2 minutes

This is really advanced – even I took a bit of time to get this together!

 

The first tick is now beat 2; the follow tick is beat 4. You need to find and feel where beat one and three are. Tough – right?! You bet!

 

Start by counting out loud, until you get the feel right and you’re not making a huge amount of mistakes.

 

Then try the rhythm presented in exercises 1 to 9. It will get harder and harder, but you will find going back to exercise 1 and doing over 4 ticks, rather than two will be much easier and your timing will improve greatly.

 

 

 

Improve your timing today

By trying all of these exercises out you will see your timing improve. This is a great way to practice without a guitar that will benefit you’re playing in a noticeable way. It’s worth trying this as often as possible – even if you can only complete one or two of the exercises out. Just a simple way to use dead time!

 

I came up with this in bed the other day; I woke up to hear my clock ticking and was struck by how I could use this common devise to improve my timing!

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