|Rhythm is something that young students can feel, but at times don't seem to understand. That can also be said about adults. We have all known people who, when asked to hum, Silent Night, come out with something sounding a lot more like La Bamba.
To maintain proper time-keeping and rhythm we teach students to count beats and measures. But sometimes that doesn't work either. There seem to be, hidden in the most unlikely places, rhythmic land mines. When we get to them we forget our training, we forget how to count, our fingers turn to spaghetti and the result is horrendous.
So, how do we overcome this?
Replace the counted beats with rhythmic phrases that we can sing or say to ourselves.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with singing to yourself as you practice. If you are playing a song you know, sing the words. If you are working on an exercise, make up words to help you with rhythms. Suzuki students have an entire litany of phrases that they play Twinkle to, and that is appropriate. Don't make the mistake of thinking only 5-year-olds should do that. I still say the word "Mexico" as I play triplets.