How to sing with rhythm or how to sing in time with music is a more common question than one would think. The first thing to realize is that having rhythm and singing in time, are not the same thing. You can have rhythm and not be able to sing in time. What? Let me explain.
Almost everyone (roughly 96% of the population) can distinguish the patterns of rhythm, commonly known as ‘having rhythm’. And the other 4% can arguably develop the ability to distinguish rhythm. But that is a different subject.
The point is, having rhythm or keeping time does not necessarily mean that one can sing rhythmically or sing in time. There is a pretty big difference between having rhythm and singing in time.
Having rhythm is simply the ability to feel the pattern of rhythm, or beat. If you can dance to the rhythm of a song, you have rhythm. If you can tap your foot to the beat of a song that is having rhythm, sometimes known as ‘keeping time’. But again, that is not singing in time.
Rhythm is a recurring pattern in time. There are forms of rhythm all around us. Rhythm governs our very existence from the grand pattern of night and day to the thub thub pattern of our hearts beating.
This all happens in time. There are 365 nights and days in a year. That is the pattern of a year. The normal resting heart rate of adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). The pattern of one minute in regards to a heart rate is anywhere between 60 to 100 beats in any given minute.
You’ve probably already worked out that 60 beats per minute means that there would be one beat every second. 120 beats per minute would be 2 per second.
80 bpm would be just over 1 beat per second. 50 bpm would be just under 1 beat per second and so. The amount of beats in time based on 1 minute.
This is known as “tempo”, from the latin word for “time”. A songs tempo is the amount of beats per minute.
When a song is playing and you are tapping your foot to it, you are recognizing the rhythm and pattern of beats per minute and joining in.
If you are tapping your foot to Don’t Stop Believing, Rumor Has It, Call Me Maybe, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, It’s My Life, or I Will Survive, you are tapping your foot 120 times a minute as they are all around 120 bpm.
That is having rhythm or keeping time with the song. But that is not singing in time.