Counting, rhythms and syncopation

I have just completed the course, and have found that I still need a lot of work on my counting, figuring out rhythms and syncopation. Are there any exercises I can do to improve my ability to count, and especially to figure out what rhythm is being played so I can transfer that to a beat ruler?


I’ve found that the best way for “me” to do is to purchase the actual sheet music to the song you want to learn and then sit down with a headset on and just listen to the song over and over while following along reading the sheet music.

Once I have the relationship of the song portion (the ear), and the visual of the actual notes being played (the eyes) both engraved into my head, the “beat-ruler” then becomes ‘subconsciously visible’ to me and it’s much easier for me to just strap on my bass and add the last ingredient - the “heart”…

I know it sounds kinda silly and all, but it’s worked for me for many years - with not only my bass’s, but also with my guitars and banjo…

Good Luck @gipsj - Keep on Thumpin’!!


What @Lanny describes is a great way of learning counting and rhythm, @gipsj! Another approach could be to take “easy” or “simple” songs first and try to transcribe them yourself (i.e., don’t get the sheet music)! Maybe at first you don’t even need to figure out the harmonically correct notes, just their lengths and the rhythm in which they are played.

This may seem counter-intuitive, as I ask you to do what you are actually trying to learn… but it is a bit akin to being thrown into deep water, such that you then will figure out how to swim by yourself. In fact, your life-saver or support in this case is any software that lets you adjust the speed of the recording you are trying to transcribe, such that you can slow down the recording to also tackle faster, more complicated rhythmical patterns! There are other discussions in this forum (which I encourage you to find and read) that talk about various possible software solutions, but note that YouTube also has this option (check out the gear symbol at the lower right corner of the viewing window of a YT video!). As said, start with simpler songs and see how that works.

You could also try to find rhythmic reading exercises (such as the image below) and then just clap those along to a metronome (or pluck one string of your bass), such that you again can start slowly and then increase the speed.

Good luck!


Thanks for the tip. Looking forward to following up on your suggestions.