Beginner Rhythmical Exercises

Read, Write and play rhythms on the guitar

Play along exercises and guitar lessons

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Rhythmical exercises in the course

Learn how to read rhythms with simple video lessons

Playing rhythms on the guitar is easy to understand. All you need to do is pair the rhythms with up and down strokes. As long as you do this you can always work out how to play any strumming pattern.

Before we dive into playing some beginner rhythmical exercises using easy to follow video lessons, let’s first ensure we understand the basics of notated rhythm.

These are the basic rules.

  • All rhythms are named after being in the time signature of 4/4
  • When a note lasts a whole bar of 4/4 is called a whole note as it lasts for all 4 beats.
  • A note that lasts half a bar of 4/4, or two beats, it is called a half note.
  • When a note lasts one beat it is called a quarter note since there are four of these in one bar of 4/4.
  • A note that lasts half a beat is called an eight-note since there are eight of these in a bar of 4/4.

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Strumming exercises 1-5

The pendulum movement

If you play rhythms that contain whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and 8th notes then your strumming hand/arm needs to work as a pendulum at 8th note pace.

No matter what length of notes you are playing, as long as the shortest is the 8th note, move at an 8th note pace.

When you start seeing the connection between rhythmical symbols and up and down strokes you are learning how to read music.

As well as learning how to read rhythms, the pendulum movement will keep you in time so make sure your right hand never stops moving, like this:

Down Up Down Up Down Up Down Up
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

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Strumming exercises 6-10

When you can play the super basic rhythms in example 1-5, you need to start adding rests. As you play along with example 6-10, make sure the pendulum movement is never interrupted.

Do not mute the chord with the strumming hand. Mute with the fretting hand.

Here are the final five exercises.

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Strumming exercises 11-15

The last exercises shown here contain more rests and some ties. Simply play along with each video to understand the notation.

Do not, under any circumstances, interrupt the pendulum movement. Keeping it going is what will keep you in time as well as reading this correctly.

When you feel comfortable playing all these, try another 30 at intermediate rhythmical exercises.

Remember, these are simple reading exercises, designed to get you to understand how to play using rhythmical symbols.

To get good at playing rhythm guitar, you must learn songs and whatever rhythmical lessons that comes with the song.

For the beginner, there is lots to cover, below you find some lessons from the beginner course where this is discussed in more depth.

Guitar Lessons

Strumming a G chord (Free Preview)

The first thing we need to learn is how to fret an open position G chord.

In the video lesson, I’ll reveal that there is more than one way to fret this simple chord.

Go to Strumming a G chord.

Muting When Strumming

Today we take a look at how to mute when you strum. You’ll discover how different chords will require different muting techniques.

Use the chords G, Em, Am, C, and D over each example as demonstrated in the video lesson.

Go to Muting when strumming.

Strumming At Different Paces

To ensure you can clearly see the difference between 8th notes and 16th notes, let’s practice all examples shown in the video lesson to a metronome.

Being able to read rhythms is an essential skill. Ensure you fully understand everything in this step.

Go to Strumming at different paces.

16th note Strumming Exercises

Today we look at reading and playing a bunch of 16th note exercises.

This is something you will do a lot of when playing the guitar so learning how to read and play them well is imperative.

Go to 16th note strumming exercises.

More 16th Note Exercises

Let’s take a look at some more 16th note strumming exercises.

These are not very musical, but they’re great for your strumming technique.

Go to More 16th note exercises.

Practice 16th note rhythmical exercises

OK, let’s challenge ourselves with some difficult 16th note rhythmical exercises.

Practice these and you will find strumming much easier.

Go to Practice 16th note rhythmical exercises.

Related Pages


Beginner Chord ProgressionWhat do you need to know in order to play real songs?

What exercises should you practice to warm-up and improve your technique? How do you understand and change the key of a song?

Go to Beginner guitar exercises.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

Not only will learning songs help you with switching between chords and improve your rhythm playing. Songs also hold the key to how music works theoretically.

Go to Beginner guitar course.

Beginner Acoustic Songs

You can learn how to play these beginner songs on the acoustic guitar.

Ain’t No Sunshine, The Drugs Don’t Work, One More Cup Of Coffee, Redemption Song, Rewind, Robin Hood, Talking About A Revolution, Time Of Your Life, and Wonderwall.

Go to Beginner acoustic songs.

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Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

Go to Monthly subscription.