15 Minute Rhythm Workshop

//15 Minute Rhythm Workshop

15 Minute Rhythm Workshop

Rhythm is arguably the most important component of music. It should stand to reason, then, that we should aspire to master rhythm before all else. As a classical guitarist, you are often left alone in your practice with little more than the metronome to keep you “honest” with your rhythm, so it can be very easy to develop a sloppy sense of rhythm.

At the CGC Summer School, all of the participants were thrust into ensemble settings, which immediately revealed how varied everyone’s rhythmic sense can be. So, in order to help the CGC community develop a better sense of rhythm, and the ability to read rhythms with ease, I will be developing rhythmic materials for the members.

Before I start, however, I would like to offer the general readership of Classical Guitar Corner a free 15 minute workshop on 6/8 rhythms. This will be useful for everybody, as I firmly believe that we can all benefit from solidifying our rhythmic skills.

Please find the free download and instructions below:

Classical Guitar Corner Rhythm Workshop Download



  • This set of drills and exercises should take you no longer than 15 minutes. I would recommend including everyday in your practice session for a week with the goal of becoming very familiar with the different rhythms, and very accurate with the execution of each one. Apart from improving your rhythm it will also help with sight reading.
  • There are 8 Rhythm Drills and 9 Mixed Rhythm Exercises. Drills are marked with numbers and exercises have “Ex.1” at the beginning of the line.
  • The rhythm drills are intended to be looped for 60 seconds each.
  • Before your play the drill on the guitar (all are on the open 2nd string) sound out the rhythms using the sounds written below the staff. These sounds are from the Kodaly method.
  • The rhythms are accompanied by smaller subdivisions that help keep your rhythm accurate. The subdivisions have accents marked that will help you identify where the rhythm fits in.
  • The 9 Mixed Rhythm Exercises combine the rhythms we have already worked on. Before you play them on the guitar say/sing the Kodaly sounds in the correct rhythm. I have not provided the sounds, nor have I provided a key for these sounds. This is intentional and forces you to reference the drills above, helping comprehension and retention. You can play each exercise up to three times, but then move on.
  • Set your metronome at 38 MM. Each tick of the metronome equals a dotted quarter note.


A bit more information for those who are interested:

The six/eight time signature

The 6/8 time signature is a compound time signature. This means that each beat is divided into three parts rather than two. There are two main beats each divided into three parts.

We count this as :   one – two – three  four – five – six”

Each of these counts is an eighth note, that is why it is called the “six eight” time signature. There are six eighth notes. The one and four are in bold above as they land on the beat and have more weight that the other divisions.

The Kodaly Rhythmic Sounds

It is very useful to verbalize rhythms before playing them on an instrument. This is because we are taking away the technical challenges of playing an instrument and just focusing on the correct rhythm.

There are many different ways to verbalize rhythm, one popular way is to use common words like “cat-ter-pil-lar” or “ap-ple”. It can be quite fun, especially for kids (or even just those young at heart) to find words that match rhythms, and it is a great way to learn. I have chosen to use the Kodaly method for rhythmic vocalizations on this site because I believe they are very well selected, and the fact that they can be transferred to any rhythm in any time signature makes them appealing. As many of you know, I like structured learning, so this work very well in the CGC context.


2017-07-03T19:24:16+00:0015 Comments


  1. Chris Miller July 3, 2017 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Even though I was unable to attend the Summer School as I am busy packing for our return to the UK. This little course hits a the sweet spot as (like all of us it seems) getting the right rhythm is a little difficult sometimes. I have not used the Kodaly system before so it is doubly interesting for me.

  2. Larry Marchant July 3, 2017 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this 15 minute workshop! Everything you mention, and describe, is very important. As you say, the information presented here is the foundation of classical guitar development. Concise and most valuable.

  3. Leonie McDonakd July 4, 2017 at 2:20 am - Reply

    How did you know that I’m struggling with rhythm at the moment??…. have just received music for a guitar school at the festival centre Adelaide and a lot of the music is by Paul Svoboda and has a LOT of syncronisation Leaders at the school are Slava and Leonard Grygorian Andras Tuske and Paul Svoboda … rather daunting!!!! ….thanks for the worksheet. …Leonie

  4. Steven Ouwerkerk July 4, 2017 at 2:29 am - Reply

    Dr. Simon Powis,
    Thank you, for your well thought-out and timely teaching for rhythmic fundamentals. The regimented inclusion to my practice sessions; will solidify a much needed pulse to my music communication. Your ongoing efforts and passion as an educator is profoundly appreciated.
    Kind Regards,
    Steven Ouwerkerk

  5. Trina Headley July 4, 2017 at 4:06 am - Reply

    So true. Mastering rhythm is the cornerstone of good music making. I am very pleased about this workshop. Thanks.

  6. Scott July 4, 2017 at 5:40 am - Reply

    VERY GOOD! Having been a piano teacher for 59 years, guitar is a new adventure for me. I want to revisit the PDF exercises from previous lessons. How do I do that?

  7. Steven July 4, 2017 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Thank You Dr. Powis,

    I’ll definitely be trying these drills tonight. Those dotted notes sure get me sometimes–especially when they are in the middle of a stack of undotted notes. Does anyone really hold those for the intended time? I think it might be impossible. And when the dotted note is preceded by a rest–don’t get me started.

    Yours Truly

  8. Peter July 4, 2017 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Thank you, sir
    It’s really useful for beginer. Rhythm make us confuse when we play guitar. It’s hard to keep it right while play note. I’ll try to practice this exercise. Thanks a lot

  9. Vincent July 4, 2017 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Hi Simon! I actually find this method much easier than the 1 e and uh 2 e…etc., that I’ve tried to use for some time. One question I have, and tried to “Google” unsuccessfully, is; how are 16th notes sounded out? The last few measures of the download include runs of 16th notes, but there weren’t specific sounding examples.

    Thanks! Vince

    • Dave Belcher July 4, 2017 at 11:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Vince,

      Usually 16th notes in the Kodaly method are “ti-ka-ti-ka” or something similar. Just follow the example of lines 6, 7, 8 that start on the top of the second page.


      Dave B (CGC team)

  10. Elias Bonya July 5, 2017 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    This is useful. I wonder if i could get a played article so I can help myself in following. I have problems with 6/8 time

  11. Joy Soobrayen July 6, 2017 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Thank you very much Simon for this valuable lesson on mastering rhythm. I’m learning a lot from it indeed. Thanks again.



  12. Mike Broso July 11, 2017 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    Hi Simon
    when I click on the download I get a ” blocked plug in ” Can you help



  13. Martha Kreipke July 12, 2017 at 1:10 am - Reply

    I received an email today from Strings by Mail. They have new practices tips on Rhythm.



  14. paul archer July 12, 2017 at 7:08 am - Reply

    Hi! Great little study – very valuable indeed. I am however confused by the different stress marks in the different drills. I cant see in the instructions how to use these. I understand how to stress beats 1 and 4, but there are other stress marks in different places in different bars/different drills. Could you elaborate and clarify please?

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