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How to Count Rhythms

The best way to learn rhythms is to perform them while counting the beat. When there are four beats in a measure, we will count the words “one - two - three - four” for every measure. Counting aloud helps us to feel where the beat is at all times, and it helps us to play each note at the proper moment. The examples below show a measure of quarter notes in the time signatures we have learned. The beat numbers are printed below each staff. Always count every beat!

Counting the beat in 2/4 time

Counting the beat in 3/4 time

Counting the beat in 4/4 time



Counting the Beat Ensures Accuracy

In every lesson of The Fundamentals of Rhythm, there are several patterns that have the beats written in the music. These examples will help you figure out how to perform the rhythms. It’s good practice to write the beats under some of the other patterns to help you learn the rhythms, too. When writing the beats underneath the patterns, remember that the first thing in a measure is always beat one!

To ensure that you are performing the rhythms accurately, listen to, and play along with the recordings, as performed by RhythmBot.

Back to the Fundamentals Table of Contents
On to Lesson 1: Quarter Notes and Quarter Rests

Get the Book

The Fundamentals of Rhythm, book by Kyle Coughlin

Fundamentals of Rhythm book

If you would like all of this information in book format so that you can put it on your music stand and practice it wherever you go, get The Fundamentals of Rhythm, by Kyle Coughlin. The book includes all of the lesson information and practice exercises found on the website.


Use MetronomeBot for a fun online metronome!

MetronomeBot, the talking online metronome

The online metronome that counts the beat, subdivides, and offers encouraging practice tips.

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