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How To Improve Your Playing In Time

By Matti Carter

Playing in time is a very important skill to master. Most beginners struggle with it, and even  advanced players have problems with it. Learning how to play in time can take time, and it can be frustrating to begin with. That is why you need to know some tips on how to practise playing in time. Here are some tips to help you improve your playing in time:

1. Doing Rhythmic Exercises

This is something that will improve your overall understanding of different rhythms, and it will most certainly help you play in time better. Once you begin to understand more and more complex rhythms, you will start to find the less complex rhythms easier to play. 

2. Ear Training

Anything that improves your musical ear will also have a direct impact on your ability to play music in the right time. It is difficult to define ear training in one sentence, because so many different elements are part of it. However, once your ear improves, you will be able to 

3. Use A Metronome While Practising

This is one of the most simple things you can do to practice playing in time. A metronome is a machine that makes a click noise on every beat, and it helps you play in a steady tempo. Metronomes can be bought in music stores, downloaded online or downloaded as an app on your smartphone. Some instruments also have a metronome built into them.

First you need to set the metronome to the tempo you want to play your song at. Then adjust the time signature so that it is the same as in the song you are playing. Make sure you set the metronome to a slow enough tempo, so that you are able to play everything correctly. Once you have mastered playing in a slow tempo, you can increase the speed of the metronome.

Important Note:

While using a metronome, you really need to make sure that you are playing correctly. It is not simply enough to just sit down, start the metronome and start playing whatever you can on top of it. No, you need to UNDERSTAND how the metronome works, and you need to KNOW when you are playing correctly and when you are making a mistake. When you know this, the metronome will work great for you. If you have no idea about how the rhythm of a song works, then it won’t make any difference whether you use a metronome or not. In that case, I suggest focusing on the steps in this article first.

4. Getting Feedback From A Teacher

Sometimes it is hard to know by yourself whether you are playing music the right way or not. It is good to have another experienced person next to you to analyse and listen to you playing. A good music teacher will be able to pick out your rhythmic mistakes and help you become a lot better at playing in time. 

© Matti Carter

About The Author:

Matti Carter is a piano instructor and composer living in Tampere, Finland. He teaches piano in a piano school he founded in 2016. He also writes instructional articles and publishes them online. If you are interested in taking piano lessons, or you have a music related question, feel free to contact Matti for advice.