Problems with rhythem and timing


New member
i've been learning to play the piano for 9 months now.i have this big problem of not being able to master my rhythem and timing.i can't even get my timing right and as a result , most of the time i tend to play out of timing.i find this a MAJOR problem which i think is really hindering my ability on the piano.i would juz like to know how many of u musicians out there have encountered this problem before when u first started playing the piano or any other it normal for a person who juz started playing the piano have GREAT difficulty in mastering rhythem and timing.
i'm not trying to boast here but i'm really impressed by myself cause i can improvise and have a great touch on the piano which i think only a talented person is able to do. so i would juz like to know , is it normal for someone to encounter great difficulty in rhythem and timing , something so basic and yet essential in music while he/she can excel in other more advance areas in the piano? if possible i would like to know more about ur experiences.

i really need some advice from u musicians out there cause i dun think i can get a single "peaceful" piano lesson without my teacher getting really pissed off wif my rhythem and timing. =)
some music educator start with Rhythm aka beats. Like clapping your hands along a piece of music. If you ever seen a kinder class, you know what I mean.

I have also seen dancers who have difficulty with identifying the beats/bars thus their movement is always not in sync.

You can try to train with a metronome. Not to play fast but be able to identify the beats/count. After a while, you should be able to keep in time better.
Are you learning classical/ pop/ jazz piano?

Don't be discouraged. You only started 9 months. Timing can be an issue with new pianists - you first need to feel the rhythm/ timing, then your brain needs to process it and tells your fingers to move, and your fingers will then have to move in time.

James suggestion is good - clapping to music gives you the feel; the metronome also helps. In the end, it is more practicing so you fingers do what it is supposed to do. If you are learning jazz/ pop, my suggestion is don't advance too quickly into improvisation, even though you can do it. Play in strict timing without fancy things. It is important to get timing right - otherwise improvisation can just become a mess. It may be boring, and even though every part of you wants to improvise, you must resist and keep the timing. Play simply. Keep practising and you'll get there!
my teacher said a metronome is a waste of money and it breaks apart easily.what she recommended was a simple rhythem machine to keep track of my timing.yes i tap my hands and feet to the beat and timing of the piece but i think i'd fare better wif a rhythem machine cause my teacher got so pissed off wif me but it's juz dat i could not coordinate my left hand tapping and my right hand playing.but when she used her organ as a rhythem machine , i managed to get it right. =)

oh btw...i'm playing classical piano
oh so you're james eh? u're the one who recommended Soul'd Out and Bryan to Zatan , my boss at Southeast CDC for our Jazzpiration by the Beach event right? i've tried calling u once but u were juz too busy concening those 2 bands dat u have recommended.
anyways glad to know that u are james. =)
hi DoubleBlade

ya, me james. hee..hee

you are learning classical and your teacher recommended you to use a Rhythm machine? hmm..hmmm.. unless the Rhythm you are using is just Rim Shot on 1 - 2 - 3 - 4. Would be weird to play classical pieces to Rock, Latin or Disco beats heee..hee..

Get one of those electonic metronome. Cost about $30- $50. Mine lasted forever. Think it would still be working if I had not lost it.
haha...anyways the reason why i dun really find a metronome feasable is because when ur playing the piano , you can't hear the sound of the metronome which should go "tick tock".so i guess it kinda defeats the entire purpose of keeping ur timing in check....well at least a rhythem machine produces some "sound" when practicing. =)
DoubleBlade said:
my teacher said a metronome is a waste of money and ...

I really think a metronome helps when playing piano. Say the timing is 4/4, you could set the inbuilt bell to ring on the 1st of the 4 beats. It sure helped when i was learning to play the piano. I believe once you get the hang of the rhythm thing it'll stick with you and you won't have such problems. Besides, if you use your feet to keep the beat, how are you going to hit the sustain pedal to connect the notes? I guess it's the same when learning all instruments, start slow, increase the speed slowly through hours of practice, practice and more practice. Good luck!
DoubleBlade said:
when ur playing the piano , you can't hear the sound of the metronome which should go "tick tock"..

i think almost ALL classical pianist train with a metronome. Try to use it, it will train your hearing too! Sometimes, you just need to concentrate and know what you are listening for.

Could you be playing the piano too loud?

1. If you get a rhythm machine, you need an amp/speaker to power it.
2. Get too used to Rhythm and not able to play without it.
3. Not listening to your own playing and hear mistakes.
Oh i have a tip. It does help if you record yourself playing with a tape recorder or something. You'll be able to hear which parts of the song you aren't keeping in sync with, so you can focus and make corrections :) Hope this helps.
yeah in fact i think that is the best solution besides getting a metronome for solving problems associated wif rhythem and timing.
besides a lot of the greatest pianist in the world use this method to improve their style of playing. =)
I believe the "rhythm machine" is an electronic metronome. An electronic metronome is usually softer than a mechanical one. Can't hear the metronome? That's unusual. If the metronome is placed on top of your piano and not too far away, it is usually very loud. After using a metronome for a while, you should be able to "hear" the beat in your head without using it.

Initially, keeping time will be a conscious thing. You need to constantly remind yourself when playing. Sorry, no shortcut my friend. Practise is the only way.

Good opportunity to get your ears tuned to classical music now. Listening is just as important a skill as playing. I can't emphasise this enough! Your ears also pick up what you play, and then this "feedback loop" tells you whether you should change your timing faster or slower.
i do listen to classical music thou.i appreciate the works of the various composers that once walked on the face of this Earth (especially Franz Liszt).anyways , i doubt i would be able to play those famous compositions now as those are for the more advanced players. =)
You will get there! Your determinism is already an encouragement to many, if I can speak for the pianists that frequent this forum. 9 months into learning piano and you sound like you really want to get it right. Keep it up!

No one really reaches the stage when he achieved mastery over the instrument.

A pianist once said, "“If I don’t practise for a day, I will notice it. If I don’t practise for two days, my critics will notice it. If I don’t practise for three days, the audience will notice it.”

So keep practising!
Cheez said:
A pianist once said, "“If I don’t practise for a day, I will notice it. If I don’t practise for two days, my critics will notice it. If I don’t practise for three days, the audience will notice it.”

yeah even an hour a day is already considered good enough for an average student.but i feel dat there is a voice at the back of my head telling me that an hour is still considered not's something like an urge i guess everytime i lay my hands on the piano , i just can't stop practicing on it until i get so tired out especially when i get new pieces to work on , i get so engrossed in it that i tend to neglect my surroundings around me.
i guess my Piano is the only girlfriend i have so far. =)
An hour a day - good enough. Don't push too hard. Playing is meant to be enjoyable. But you seem to be enjoying it very much. Keep it up!
there are some digital metronomes (like the one that i have) which allow headphones to be plugged in. That would definitely solve the problem of not hearing the beats. Don't get too stressed about it. Lots of people have problems with their timing and control no matter what instrument they play.