Learn the basic rhythms.
As one of the top 5 ways to develop your piano rhythm, learning the basic beats found in any kind of music will help. The more rhythms that you listen to in fact, the easier they are to identify and emulate. We have for example, the standard four-beat rhythm that counts out to four beats per measure. Pretty common. Then we have the three-beat rhythm that counts out to three beats per measure. Again, pretty common. We also have the two-beat rhythm which is half the four-beat rhythm, but as you delve deeper into the world of piano, you’ll discover some rather interesting (albeit, a little tricky) beats to play. The five beat rhythm is an example. This pattern counts out five beats per measure, commonly found in non-European music.
Practice rhythms with your hands (clapping, clapping on lap, tapping foot).
Speaking of tricky rhythms, we find that clapping our hands or just tapping our feet is an effective method in developing rhythm — especially when the music that we play gets a little complicated. Bear in mind that music doesn’t have to be foreign to be complicated. Sometimes, music can be so “full” of “stuff” (notes, flags, sharps, and other twists and turns), we can get lost in trying to play it. Taking a few moments to clap out a rhythm however, helps us associate notes with a unique time signature — a time signature that could at any moment, change right in the middle of a song!
Count out loud if you have to.
This strategy follows the hand clapping and foot tapping strategy above, except that counting aloud helps strengthen the concept of rhythm in our minds. When we repeat 1 -2 -3 -4 over and over, that pattern sticks and flows from our fingers. It’s best to count aloud while looking at the music you’re playing. The relationship between the notes you see and the beats that they represent will become clearer as a result.
Use a metronome.
Metronomes are pretty much standard staples when it comes to playing music. You would be hard pressed in fact, to stay on beat without one! A metronome is programmed to produce a steady beat for a prolonged period of time, so they make perfect tools for strengthening adherence to certain beats.
Play the piano in your mind while doing something else.
Just for fun, you could use the sounds in your environment as a basis for a new rhythm. Imagine the sounds created in the office environment. A person typing… someone walking down the hall… a printer grinding out 20 sheets of music… you get the point. Pick any one of these songs and then play your imaginary piano to the rhythm of the sound that you’re hearing. Even if the rhythm speeds up or slows down, the goal in this little exercise is to keep playing the music on time, no matter how much the beat sways.