My good friend Tomlin invited me over for a guest seminar to teach rhythmical concepts to his students. I thought this would be a great opportunity to bridge the gap between drummers and melodic instrumentalists (in this case, harmonica players). This video is just a snippet of my seminar and the full video is up on tomlinharmonicaschool.com . If you're a harmonica player of any level, consider subscribing to his course. He's an amazing teacher!
I feel that rhythm, these days, is one of the last things on many instrumentalists minds. Yes, I understand I'm saying that from a drummer's point of view. But, some of the world's best sax players, bassists, guitarists and pianists have way better rhythm and groove than most drummers I know. If you can't clap a rhythmic figure independently to a steady pulse, then you need to work on your rhythm. Starting with the basics. Find a metronome, start it at 70bpm.
Tap your feet with the heels. I always think you 'feel' the beat stronger if it vibrates off your heels and up your legs. Tap quarter note time. So, 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -
Once you're comfortable with this, start saying 1 'and' 2 'and' 3 'and' 4 'and' 1 'and .....
You are still tapping your feet on the 1234, not the 'ands'
The 'and' is the eighth note inside each quarter note. Get comfortable and clap quarters along with your feet. Then double time! Clap 8th notes! This is clapping on 1&2&3&4&.
Your feet are still tapping on the quarters. Don't let the two copy each other!
Once you're comfortable, clap the off-beat! The 8th notes in between. So all the 'ands'... feet still independently stomping the pulse on the quarters.
So it'll sound like Stomp-clap-stomp-clap-stomp-clap-stomp-clap
Let's take it up a notch...
Find yourself melody that you like. A simple one to start and tap the quarter note pulse with your feet. Then clap the rhythm of melody with your hands. The more you do this, the more solid you will become rhythm and groove. Do this with your favourite jazz standard heads, bass-lines, orchestral tuttis, pop tunes... it's all the same! And do this to a metronome! They're free on so many app stores. EVEN GOOGLE has a built in metronome in the search engine! No excuses!
I know it's not very exciting as an exercise, but this is the start to achieving better rhythm. Strive for rhythmic independence and you'll become a better musician no matter what instrument you play!