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What are some of the biggest lessons any guitar player can learn from honing their rhythm guitar skills and what are you missing out on by focusing on the wrong thing?  Some guitar players do not focus on their rhythm guitar because they have misconceptions about it, or they do not have a strategy in their lessons to improve their rhythm guitar playing.  The biggest benefit you get from focusing on rhythm guitar exercises and analyzing the rhythm guitar in songs is that rhythm is the underlying musical element that is strung through all of your favorite songs.  Not focusing on this musical element will cause your playing to lack feeling, groove, and the ability to flow.

Top 3 Misconceptions About Rhythm Guitar

1.  Rhythm guitar lessons on youtube show you the strumming patterns for famous songs and that is good enough.

Learning songs is a common goal especially for beginner guitar players (common goals for beginner guitar players) but it is not the fastest way to learn a large repertoire of songs or even to become a better all around guitar player (article idea, how to become a great guitar player all around).  Without a firm understanding in what the rhythm guitar player is doing, how the rhythms affect the feel of the song, and why certain strumming patterns are used leaves you with a paint by numbers approach to guitar.  You will find that trying to memorize ups and downs does little to improve your timing, and guitar playing abilities.

2.  You need to learn a lot of chords to become a great rhythm guitar player

Again, this reason is missing the main root cause of poor rhythm guitar playing.  Knowledge of chords is a separate skill altogether and should be practiced on it’s own.  The left hand does play a roll in how the notes are articulated, and when the two hands sync up, the rhythm playing becomes more expressive.  However, the rhythm is not in the left hand, or even the right hand.  It is felt internally, and comes out through the body.  Rhythm is an internal feeling that must be cultivated by learning how to listen, and feel a groove.  This requires direct practice and is often overlooked by many guitar players of all styles, including students that take lessons on metal guitar.

3.  Learning single string exercises does little to improve your strumming

When the rhythm is internalized as stated in the reason above, that is when the strumming hand can learn to do it’s job even more effectively.  By practicing different single string exercises, including arpeggiating chords, the strumming hand learns to accurately pick the correct strings at the correct time.  Becoming a great rhythm guitar player requires a strong internal sense of rhythm, and then an accurate picking hand.  Being able to control the speed of each strum, the force of each strum, and the amount of strings picked, gives the guitar player the ability to express emotions more powerfully.  For example: Strum 4 beats on an E minor chord while counting to 4 and tapping your foot.  If you can do that successfully for 4 bars, congratulations.  Now this time, focus on hitting only the low E string on beats 1 and 3, and hit the other 5 strings on 2 and 4.  This ability to phrase the rhythm hand in such a way breaks up the sound of the guitar and gives better sense of depth and an entirely different feel to the strumming.

If you are looking for a way to improve your rhythm guitar playing but you do not work with an experienced guitar teacher, watch the video below on how to improve your rhythm guitar playing, how to learn how to count while playing, and what is really going on when you are learning ups and down strokes.  You will never look at learning rhythm guitar songs, or rhythm guitar exercises the same again, and you will really feel the groove.

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