Articles, Blog

The “Secret” to Improving Your Rhythm and Time by Chick Corea

August 17, 2019

One really good exercise that I think
most musicians, a lot of artists, a lot of people use this, it’s a really good way
to check your own judgment to see how to improve your judgment. Because it’s your
judgment you’re working with. So one way to do that is- it’s an easy way to apprentice.
What you do is you find a recording of a passage or song or an artists, that has the kind of
time and rhythm that you like, you say “Wow, that’s cool. I wish I could be that-”
whatever. That fluent or that smooth or that swinging or that whatever. What ever your
concept is.You say,“Boom. I wish I could-” see languages,” it’s so hard to describe.
“I wish I could do that.” So, what you do is you take that as a model. And for the
first step in practice is try to duplicate it. Just mimic it completely. See if you can
find out by mimicking it, what the points in it are that you like, technically. You
can mimic it. I used to do that with Bud Powell’s music. And I tried to mimic his motion. So
I get the flow of his rhythm and so forth. That’s step number one. And then turn the
recording off and play it yourself and see if that has helped you get the groove and
improve. That’s one way to do it. That’s-I’m going to give you the ultimate exercise in
a second. But that’s one way to do it, when you’re on your own in your practice room.
Another thing that I wanted to say is another method that musicians use that is really great,
that I think is really valid, is that you record yourself. Use a sequencer or use a recorder
of any kind or video, use an actual video recorder. And record yourself playing something.
Something that you would like to judge whether- on what level it is. What you need to improve
and then play it back and look at it or listen to it and go, “Well that’s too much this
way and it needs more of that.” So now practice more of that toward whatever your ideal is.
Because the tricky thing is, only you’re going to know when you reach a point where you go,
“Oh yeah, thats pretty good.” Who else is going to tell you that? Who, that matters?
You’re not looking for admiration at this point. You’re looking for, you’ve got
to know. So you’ve got to start trusting your own judgment. Now the ultimate exercise
is not only in improving time, but improving anything that you’d like to improve as a
musician, is what I called, what is generally known as the apprenticeship system. Apprenticeship.
Now when you’re an apprentice, you find a “master,” to work with. It could be
anyone. It could be your next door neighbor who plays a little bit better than you. Or
a friend. Or whoever it is who’s got an ability that you think you would like to have
too. And you go play with him, you go work with him, you go collaborate with, you go
make music together and this is how anyone learns a trade, or anyone learns the piano,
or how anyone learns an instrument. You go and play with other musicians that can help
you understand the area that you’re trying to learn in and so forth. That’s called
an apprenticeship. Work with a band, work with another musician. Always with the idea
that you want to learn something and you’re there to assimilate what positive things you
see and learn from them. And that is the ultimate, “secret” of improving your time, your

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Benjamin Pearlman May 25, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Is matter of life or death

  • Reply Harrod Roach June 7, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    To me it similar to singing. There are many many singers in the world, some not so good, some good,some very good and some great. All of them listen to or hear other singers and more than likely have picked up something from that. The key is the great ones have there own distinctive sound. They are not imitating and when you hear them you know it them singing. They can all sing the same song but sound like themselves,not like the person that sung it before them.

  • Reply Craig Mitchell June 18, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Very valuable stuff (:
    Glad there are still jazz masters walking the earth to pass on their art ( :

  • Reply Philip Osodog June 30, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Great instruction!

  • Reply Anna Lisa Young July 18, 2016 at 4:58 am

    Thank you so much for this. I'm struggling with my own song right now.

  • Reply THOMAS TESTA August 6, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    love you, Judge Corea.

  • Reply Carlos Vinueza September 10, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Demasiado bueno para ser cierto… Gracias por compartir esto

  • Reply PeyCa October 18, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Thank you very much for this video! 😀

  • Reply sexypoetry November 3, 2016 at 9:49 am

    no more pasta?

  • Reply ternitamas November 27, 2016 at 5:16 am

    generally great musicians suck at teaching

  • Reply Doğukan Sezgin December 30, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Does he have a new york accent ?

  • Reply Kenny Bradshaw January 6, 2017 at 3:11 am


  • Reply Freebies In The Mail/Homeschooling-Mom February 20, 2017 at 4:36 am

    Thank you great advice.

  • Reply Mrius86 February 27, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Hearing a recording of myself playing guitar for the first time was absolutely TERRIFYING. Now I'm hooked and do it every single day. Only way to improve, really.

  • Reply Fogtown _king March 12, 2017 at 3:14 am

    Great advice!

  • Reply Phil Maturano March 27, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Apparently chick doesn't have a clue about how to teach this stuff and frankly not many people do.

  • Reply Javier Olmedo March 29, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Count in time while playing to a metronome, voila.

  • Reply nch March 30, 2017 at 4:34 am

    Wow he lost a lot of weight

  • Reply He's Real Close April 2, 2017 at 1:33 am

    A whole lot of nothing.

  • Reply gugl acownt April 6, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Those grandpa shoes though

  • Reply ulf gjerdingen April 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    yup. hang out with the cats is the way to go. stop playing candy crush and get out there! 😀

  • Reply Jo J April 28, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Cool cat!

  • Reply Rich7714 May 16, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    3:25 – this can be a real problem if you live in the countryside, & don't have many musicians around to help you, & play off of!

  • Reply tony herbet June 7, 2017 at 3:47 am


  • Reply Di Dxpeo June 13, 2017 at 3:22 am

    195,850 of white ppl and asian ppl watched this video, some of them liked it.

  • Reply Julian Gonzalez Fernandez July 1, 2017 at 12:17 am

    Thanks Mr Chick for show your especial vision of music and your fucking allsome caricaturesque explain!!!
    Big Master***

  • Reply don milland July 8, 2017 at 8:21 am

    be born as musical genius like Chick helps too

  • Reply Kike Purizaga July 10, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Sr, What have been your influences as a composer ?, and, have these determined your style as a pianist?

  • Reply Mez Drums July 13, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Sage words

  • Reply Tony Canaris July 20, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    I am left-handed bassist who. I started off in the beginning stopping during my singing and playing bass which haunted me for years until i got better singing and playing . I copy artist like macartney. Bee gees doobies. Chicago .etc. sings and plays at the same time

  • Reply Alert Palle August 22, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    who gave him the name CHICK??

  • Reply BlasJohnny August 28, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Thank You great information

  • Reply Ozou'ne Sundalyah August 30, 2017 at 5:02 am

    Wow, this is so awesome Sir Master Chick! I've been doing a lot of what you have said intuitively as I have always heard stuff in my head before I started playing the Piano. I had the presence of mind to record myself via 8-Track/Cassette e.t.c. and indeed I learned quite a lot from my own playing on these recording sessions. To hear you articulate this is most exciting indeed! You and your Music have been of great inspiration to me & I have learned a lot and still continue to learn so much more. Thank you so very much for sharing this with us Sir. Perhaps I will have the honor & privilege to hear you play one of my Compositions: "Reminds Me of Chick!" Blessings to you, your family and team as always.

  • Reply jack brandt September 14, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Well at least he didn't mention Xenu or suggest hooking up to an E-meter.

  • Reply Arlene Corwin September 25, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Grateful, grateful, grateful!

  • Reply Chris Russo October 4, 2017 at 3:10 am

    Governor Coumo with a perm!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply onthelibrarycomputer October 5, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Al Di Meola has a good short video on here about keeping time where he talks about playing against the time at the 2:33 mark :

  • Reply Vito Corleone October 13, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Michaels jack sons rhythm is so good. His dances are like a visual of the rhythm he's dancing to. RIP God

  • Reply Madness Recovering October 24, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Was that a boom mic at the top of the screen towards the end? Haha would of been funny if he walked over and batted it away..haha good vid though.

  • Reply Drummer J.L.H. October 28, 2017 at 12:59 am

    Chick,  When you're playing 'fours' with a drummer and if the drummer is really playing complex rhythms, how are you keeping time in your mind, so as to always come back in on one (if that's the intent), after the 4 bars the drummer plays?  Thank you.

  • Reply BlasJohnny November 9, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Your So Right

  • Reply David Wilcox January 2, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Awesome piece of advice!

  • Reply frank triolo January 2, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    I believe Miles called him a "muther". That was an understatement.

  • Reply Noobie747 January 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    What if I don't like performing arts and just want to work in a studio environment yet I want to improve my rhythm?

  • Reply Taiwo Bamisile January 14, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    yes sir, you are definitely correct. thanks for the advice!!

  • Reply DJ STACKTRACE January 15, 2018 at 1:36 am

    He is a natural teacher.

  • Reply dank_asian_snacks January 15, 2018 at 3:51 am

    who wanna be my master?

  • Reply Stu Art January 15, 2018 at 6:18 am

    buy a metronome. done

  • Reply Peter Kauffman January 15, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    He lost some weight and looks great.

  • Reply Shuzies January 16, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    Great……….Thank You

  • Reply john.davis.drums January 17, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Lol chick killin that game with them Velcro shoes

  • Reply Hexspa January 25, 2018 at 2:57 am

    Thanks Chick. Anyone wanna check my music channel? Mutual support if you sub 🙂

  • Reply Thomas Minot January 27, 2018 at 10:11 am

    The only secret of his I want to know is how to look that good at 74.

  • Reply Impromptu January 29, 2018 at 2:08 am

    An alternative version of this approach involves playing along with a recording:

  • Reply GuitarUniverse2013 January 29, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Steal from the best. If you’re a guitar player, transcribe Benny Goodman clarinet solos. once you have transcribed them, note for note, analyze in two ways:
    1.) what are the intervallic relationship between any two notes?
    2.) Compare the note or note with the cords or harmony if you will, so that you can see exactly what’s happening. Now it takes some doing, and the suggestion presupposes that you have a fairly good handle on Music Theory.

    Just a quick tip on music theory. it’s a given that you have to know how to read in at least treble and base clefs. take any note, say, the D above middle C. Now if you’re in a key of C, that individual note is the root of the I chord, right? Right! But what is that same note when played against an
    A-flat major seven chord? or B-flat dominant seventh chord with a sharp 11?

    I wonder why he didn’t mention anything about working with the metronome? Maybe it’s more of a feel thing he wants you to get first?

  • Reply Christopher Sewell February 12, 2018 at 7:30 am

    This is no real secret here, which I'm sure is he used air quotes. If you're trying all three of these things, it's only a matter of time.

  • Reply J Nada February 13, 2018 at 2:15 am

    "Get the groove and improve".
    I should frame that epic line.

  • Reply Suq Madiq February 15, 2018 at 8:00 am

    You had me at improve @ 4:08

  • Reply Wimpi Handoko February 16, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Ok, let's just play…

  • Reply jennifer86010 February 16, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Most student musicians don't have the ability to critique themselves, while most experienced pros don't have the humility to critique themselves.

  • Reply jennifer86010 February 16, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    3:20 Bach walked 250 miles just to study with a great German Organ Master. Bach paid him by being his servant for half a year while he lived and studied with him. Bach said "Anyone else who had put in as much work as I, would have received the same results." Bach was being modest, because he put in a lifetime of continuous, passionate work. God didn't give Bach the gift of music. Bach earned and built his musical talent, note by note – a hungry apprentice who became The Master.

  • Reply dinogee February 17, 2018 at 4:07 am

    But how do I improve my hair game to be like Chick?

  • Reply Jazzkeyboardist1 February 17, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    cool.. does fred stoller do your voice? comedian was on Seinfeld a few times

  • Reply Kingfish179 February 25, 2018 at 8:47 am

    This guy looks like a mix between Steven Pinker and Mick Jagger.

  • Reply tdrum21 February 26, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Amen! Great content & thoughts here

  • Reply Doug Zander March 2, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    I stepped upon the platform
    The man gave me the news
    He said you must be joking son
    Where did you get those shoes

  • Reply Sid kingsley March 6, 2018 at 2:16 am

  • Reply spareplanet March 8, 2018 at 1:28 am

    As a player/composer, Chick is elite! Terrible teacher, tho

  • Reply Jackson Elmore March 15, 2018 at 3:10 am

    I hate playing perfectly in time, but I also hate straying too far out of time, how do I find the median?

  • Reply Junior Richards March 15, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    The single most imprtant thing is to record yourself and critique what you played

  • Reply KAFUCA6174 March 17, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Dude…can I ask you a question… are you still a member of the oppressive.disgusting cult of scientology??? if so…SHAME ON YOU ! Listening to your music now would be like listening to hitler if he he been a musician….same thing!

  • Reply Robert Hardt March 20, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    Chick could nail a Pacino impersonation

  • Reply Robyn Jamison March 27, 2018 at 7:32 am

    I had no idea you were available on the web. You were my first jazz piano hero and continue to be my favorite jazz pianist. Thank you!

  • Reply GODALKANJE - Glasbeni kolokvij April 4, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Could anyone type down the word he is saying for me "it is called ___________ship" please. Sorry, but I am not native speaker and I can't figure it out. Thank you. (3:44)

  • Reply Balisani L.A. April 8, 2018 at 5:24 am

    Utterly useless – not surprising coming from this (talented but nonetheless a) crook.

  • Reply dave d May 4, 2018 at 4:14 am

    Master Class called "How to state the obvious".

  • Reply downhill2400 August 11, 2018 at 4:16 am

    Just bought my first Looper. The first thing I noticed is that I can do exactly what you're talking about. I can make a loop then playback to see how it sounds. So, I'm checking rhythm and fingering technique (guitar) at the same time! Great advise here. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Pippo Agostino August 20, 2018 at 11:16 pm

    Grazie,Grazie, غرازي, شكرا لك, あ り が と う, danke, merci, go raibh maith agat, M'ainim, a big arm thank you, Pippo Agostino

  • Reply Kevin Andrews September 27, 2018 at 2:13 am

    If you google "how to play better music" you'll find all kinds of bullshit. I know Chick's advice here is really simple, but it's great hearing a master tell it like it is.

  • Reply Chase Brady October 2, 2018 at 3:58 am

    Great video!

  • Reply Ron Markus October 14, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    So much of music is subjective, I play things that sound/seem totally insignificant until I hear the piece again later and I am amazed that I actually like it. I mean, I always thought that it was just some exercise in temporary insanity.

  • Reply Ted Stryker October 20, 2018 at 6:23 am

    I thought he spoke Mexican

  • Reply Connor October 29, 2018 at 6:20 am

    That guy for me is him but yaaaaaa rigghtt

  • Reply Morrie Louden November 8, 2018 at 5:18 am

    Love you brother Chick!

  • Reply Cretaceous Steve November 9, 2018 at 2:50 am

    What if you suck so bad that nobody wants to be near you though

  • Reply blackwaterthreat November 20, 2018 at 4:58 am

    "Get a teacher". Wow, what a "secret".

  • Reply Rob Amaral December 5, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Right on Chick.. 'that's it man'… and 'amen on the MASS accent (still) 🙂

  • Reply alexfithero December 30, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Come to new mexico

  • Reply Antoanela Udila January 9, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Binenteles ca il ador il admir muzical

  • Reply Luka Henigman May 6, 2019 at 3:53 am

    General good life advice

  • Reply Reiko112233 May 22, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Loved this. Thank you.

  • Reply Emanuel Magalhães Fróes May 23, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    you say with your authority priceless obvious things. Everything one needs

  • Reply jasonjjj27 May 26, 2019 at 9:29 am

    I still consider myself new, but trying to become intermediate on skill level. When i play something I count in my head 1 2 3 4, or 1&2&3&4& ect, but I'm having a problem with that because of the speed. It works for slow songs, but when the rythm is too fast I can't keep up and it just becomes crazy……So I guess my question is…………..When you play how to you count? Do you count in your head or just go by the feel? Because when I try to play without counting in my head I can't keep a steady rythm. Thank you for anyone who has any tips for me on this matter. 🙂

  • Reply Eds Vlogs June 9, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    this is applicable to comedy also

  • Reply Dr Apellido June 30, 2019 at 2:11 am

    Hi Mr. Chick I would like to be your student, my biggest dream is to be a jazz/blues musician

  • Reply Federico Rubin July 10, 2019 at 12:36 am

    Those are really precious advices

  • Reply Refuso Againo July 17, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    Who is it that hates using the volume input? At max I get about 45 decibels out of this it's unwatchable.

  • Reply Refuso Againo July 18, 2019 at 12:03 am

    I do some of those things now that I'm in my 60s and trying to learn piano again. I was forced to learn the Conservatory piano system only up to grade II when young. After piano, I played trumpet in a band for six years before getting a job that paid bills. One drummer was fantastic, making the previous five years almost a waste by comparison. I also learned to always 'play over your head' or with musicians that are better than you if you want to improve. So far, I only have the dog to test my progress. She gets up and leaves when I make mistakes.

  • Reply HigherPlanes July 23, 2019 at 4:34 am

    Why do music rooms always have oriental rugs?

  • Reply Kris Guitar August 15, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Shocking audio

  • Leave a Reply