Intermediate Rhythmical Exercises

Another thirty rhythmical exercises!

In the intermediate course, we use these videos as a first step, mainly to ensure you can read rhythm. We mainly study actual songs strumming patterns and learn about rhythm when playing melodies.

Saying that, a good place to start is to just make sure you can read and play different rhythms. That’s what the video lessons on this page are all about.

The first fifteen exercises are identical to the exercises you practised in beginner rhythmical exercises. Now, we add more chords.

The last fifteen exercises are new and use 16th note rhythms. This means the right hand’s pendulum movement has to change pace.

Strumming pattern 1-5

In the video below, the chords played are G and C, but why stop there? Try the same exercise but change the chords to D and A instead, does it feel different?

An important skill to develop is independence between rhythm and chord playing. Experimenting with changing the chords every time you practise these exercises will get you better at that as well as playing rhythms.

Strumming pattern 6-10

Again, it’s the same rhythm as before but the chords have changed. It’s now G D and C. In your own time, try other chords as well.

When you take the intermediate course, all this practise planning is done for you, all you do is take it step by step.

Strumming pattern 11-15

The last basic strumming patterns and it should now be evident what a difference it makes to start changing the chords around.

The act of writing and playing your own patterns is unbeatable for improving your rhythmical understanding.

Try this: Don’t think too much about it, just write a random rhythm, try different chords, who knows, you might come up with something you could develop into a song!

16th note pace Vs 8th note pace


In bar one, you can see how the back beat is played with an upstroke for the 8th notes. In bar two, you can see how by playing the 8th notes with only downstrokes you keep the 16th note pace throughout.

As you can see in the image here, 8th notes can, theoretically be played using either down and up strokes, or just down strokes.

However, if you play down up, you’d have to change from 8th note pace to 16th note pace. It is very likely that doing so will make you slow down or speed up the song.

To play this well you need to decide what pace you are strumming and just like you decided on an 8th note pace in the first fifteen exercises, now it has to be 16th note pace.


We study all this in much further depth in the course, you need plenty of real examples from actual songs to get good at both playing and reading rhythms.

The following fifteen exercises are merely created for you to get started.

16th note pattern 1-5

These exercises are a sight reading, hand synchronisation and technical exercise all in one. The first ten are relatively easy, the last five are definitely not!

One of the best things you can do to further develop is to write your own 16th note exercises. The more you get involved and put into your rhythm practise, the more you will get out of it.

16th note pattern 6-10

If the first five was easy, these next five exercises are a bit more tricky. Don’t worry, as long as you understand what all rhythmical symbols mean in terms of up and down strokes you will be OK.

Take your time, work out the pattern by playing along, compare your up and down strokes with the symbols and try different tempos.

16th note pattern 11-15

These final rhythmical exercises are definitely not as easy as they look! Expect to spend some time on these before they start to sound natural and you can achieve high BPM settings.

The final exercise uses a grouping of three: Play a 16th, wait for two 16th and then loops this formula. The consequence of such a pattern is that we get the feeling of moving across the beat, this is called a ‘cross rhythm’.

To further get yourself into this concept, try grouping 16th notes in five and seven as well. Taken to its extreme, rhythmical grouping becomes a new tempo. In Jazz this is exploited a lot, sometimes even disguised as a secondary tempo.


These exercises were only the beginning. To become great at playing rhythms you have to start writing your own exercises, honing in on whatever rhythm or combination of rhythms you struggle with.

To change the chords around when playing such a rhythm is vital for maximum development.

You also need real song examples so you can see how some patterns loop better than others, how a verse builds to a bridge or how you get a sense of release in a chorus.

All this is catered for in the intermediate guitar course.