Rhythm Exercises – Part 3 (Advanced)


In this article, our third in the “Rhythm Exercises” series, we’ll be looking at some advanced and challenging rhythmic exercises. These are really meant to test your rhythmic understanding and execution, so if they’re too difficult, don’t worry. Start off with our Part 1 and Part 2 rhythmic exercises, master those, and then build up to the exercises presented below. As always, be sure to use your metronome while performing and practicing all of these exercises. If you’re one of those students who thinks that the metronome gets in the way, that just proves how much you really should be using it. The metronome is the indicator as to whether or not you can play in time.

Ready? Let’s go on to ROUND 3!

Rhythm Exercises #9: Review of Rhythms

At this point in our rhythmic exercises, you’ve encountered a wide variety of rhythms. This first advanced exercise will challenge your ability to work through a longer rhythmic example that incorporates a little bit of everything. As we’ve been stressing all along, the only way to really master these exercises with precision is to be able to count and subdivide when playing/clapping these rhythms. Start slowly and gradually increase your tempo.


Rhythm Exercises #10: Quarter Note Triplets

Quarter note triplets follow the same logic as eighth note triplets – 3 in the space of 2. In order to play quarter note triplets you need to fit three notes evenly in the space of two quarter notes. Let’s take a look at how quarter note triplets work mathematically.

Just as we can tie two eighth notes together to equal a quarter note, we can tie two eighth note triplets together to equal a quarter note triplet. The basic idea is that if you can play/count eighth note triplets through an entire measure of 4/4 time, then by simply playing/clapping every other eighth note triplet you will be playing/clapping the quarter note triplet.


When we count quarter note triplets, we again say “1 – trip – let, 2 – trip – let,” etc, remembering of course that eighth note triplets are twice the rate of quarter note triplets.

Now try playing, clapping, and counting the exercise below which uses quarter note triplets.


Rhythm Exercises #11: Dotted Eighth Notes

As we’ve already learned, the dot on any note has a very specific function. The dot increases the original note’s value by half. For example, a whole note gets four beats. A dotted whole note gets 6 beats. Why? Because the dot increases the whole note’s value (4) by half (2), and 4 plus 2 equals 6. The same is true for the dotted eighth note. The eighth note gets half a beat. And half of half is a quarter of a beat. So a dotted eighth note is equal to 3/4 of a beat, or three 16th notes.


Now let’s try a rhythmic exercise that uses the dotted eighth note rhythm sprinkled in with some other rhythmic figures.


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Welcome Paul Buono

Paul Buono has returned to the JazzEdge family as an instructor.  His professional piano/keyboard experience includes national and international touring, university professor, musical director, pit

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  1. Rhythm?! If I can’t feel it then everything falls apart. Rhythm forces me to have an ongoing linear thought process- dragging an anchor, though without it i wake up in the Indian Ocean. I’m thinking of rhythm n bass line n treble n another rhythm n the tune n chords n on n on. But For some reason, RHYTHM is the most burdensome n yet rewarding at the same time. Do u eventually begin to FEEL? hope so.

  2. watched “the voice” for kids. a long lanky 12 year old performed “nut bush” by Ike n Tina turner. when asked how she learned to dance w/such non stop energy she said

    “you-tube”. said she loves James Brown. she was spectacular.!

  3. some 40 +- years ago I was the student director of a band. – there were a number of syncopated phrases thru-out the piece-

    I overheard an off hand comment by a trumpet player to another student: “I’ve got the music down pretty well, I’m just having trouble w/the rhythm”.

    luckily i wasn’t engaged in the conversation
    as my mind went dark, completely blank. out the door was the best move I could make.

JPC glossary / key

  • RH – right hand
  • LH – left hand
  • HT – hands together
  • CM – contrary motion (to move in opposite directions)
  • Harmonically – to play as chords (all notes together at once)
  • Melodically – to play as a melody (single note) – arpeggiate
  • R7, R3, R37 – chord shells (Root-7th, Root-3rd, Root-3rd-7th respectively)
  • bpm – beats per minute. Refers to the metronome setting