Rhythm – Counting Different Music Notes


in Music Technique, Rhythm

Rhythm is a weak point for many musicians, including myself. This is especially true when you don't play music for awhile. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for new students is the time value of notes and how long they are held. Let's explore.

An Example of Rhythm with Different Note Time Value

In the following example of a 6/8 time signature the red and blue shown on the clap line are the total time that each of the notes are counted or held during playing.

On the clap line “Hold” is getting your hands together, the “arrow” (–>) is to continue holding. So in practice:

In the first measure when you clap on beats 1 and 2 and 3 where you will hold your hands together for counts 3, 4, 5, 6.

Then when you clap again on count 1 of the 2nd measure you hold for counts 1 , 2, and 3. The colors show how long that note is held as you count the rhythm.

On the Keyboard

At your piano this example you would play a note 3 times and on the third time hold it for 3 more counts (total of 4 counts).

Then play a note again and hold for 2 more counts (total of 3 counts),

Play two notes and the last is held for one more count (total 2 counts).

The variety of notes is to get you in the rhythm of counting six beats, but using the time value of different notes. Studying the time value of notes is so important that it needs to become second nature in order to play.

I often suggest reviewing the exercises from 8 pages in our rhythm workshop everyday for a week or two just to make sure you get it down cold. You can't hurry your way through this step, it's better to fully understand and impliment than to continue to struggle with it.

On Your Own

Open up any sheet music and look for a varity of notes. Now clap the rhythm for a few bars.

If you're not getting it right away that's ok, just do it 10 times. Then again for the next couple of days or until it starts to feel natural. Then find a new passage and do it again.

You'll find that pretty soon it's going to get easier and faster.

Next you'll have to deal with rests. That's coming up in another post.

Featured Music Resources

Learn Guitar Online with Videos: JamPlay Guitar

Previous post:

Next post: