Understanding rhythm is as important as knowing scales, harmony and everything else associated with becoming a competent musician. Rhythm is often overlooked for students of classical music and it is not uncommon to hear music college students clapping along to a metronome to improve an obvious weakness in their playing. There is a simple reason that drummers and percussionists have a better grasp of rhythm and timing than most other instrumentalists, they study it and practise it properly. It is all about sub-diving the beats into manageable chunks.
The rhythm exercise written out below is an example of what we are talking about. In this score we are practising our quaver (eight note) rhythms and syncopation. As this is a rhythm exercise, the notes that you play are up to you. Perhaps pick a particular scale or mode that you are comfortable with or just improvise until you find some nice sounding harmonies. The point here is that the bottom line is always playing the whole set of eighths (or quavers) so you will clearly hear any messy notes. We hope that you find this exercise useful and it helps you to improve your rhythmic playing on the piano.