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Lesson 9: Sixteenth Note Groupings and Dotted Eighth Notes

Practice PatternsLesson 9 Practice Patterns


Sixteenth notes often appear in groups of four, as demonstrated in Lesson 8. We can also tie some of those sixteenth notes together to create different rhythmic combinations.

Tying together the first two sixteenth notes creates a rhythmic grouping of one eighth note followed by two sixteenths.

Example of one eighth note and two sixteenth notes

If the last two sixteenth notes are tied, a rhythm of two sixteenths followed by an eighth note is formed.

Example of two sixteenth notes and an eighth note

By tying together the middle two sixteenth notes, a syncopated pattern of sixteenth - eighth - sixteenth is created.

Example of a sixteenth followed by an eighth note followed by a sixteenth note

Dotted Eighth Notes

Lesson 2 and Lesson 5 covered dotted notes. Remember that a dot placed to the right of a notehead is an indication to tie half of that note value to the existing note. Therefore, a dotted eighth note equals an eighth tied to a sixteenth, or three sixteenths tied together.

How to subdivide and play dotted eighth - sixteenth rhythms

If we tie the last three sixteenths together, the result is a sixteenth - dotted eighth rhythm.

How to subdivide and play sixteenth - dotted eighth note rhythms

The patterns in this lesson of The Fundamentals of Rhythm focus on all of these groupings. As always, when sixteenth notes are involved in rhythmic patterns, subdivide every beat by counting “e and a” after every beat, and use a metronome!

Practice SuggestionsLesson 9 Practice Suggestions

Practice PatternsLesson 9 Practice Patterns

Practice patterns for dotted eighth notes and other groupings of sixteenth notes

Learn how to play sixteenth rests in Lesson 10.

To learn how to play sixteenth note groupings and dotted eighth notes with practice patterns and audio examples, get the book The Fundamentals of Rhythm, by Kyle Coughlin.

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The Book

Kyle Coughlin’s book, The Fundamentals of Rhythm, is a step-by-step method book with clear explanations of beat, tempo, meter, time signature, note values, and many other rhythmic concepts. It includes 22 lessons with more than 450 practice patterns to help you learn the fundamental aspects of rhythm. Audio recordings of the patterns (performed by RhythmBot) are available on this website. The book is available in both print and PDF editions, and can be used by any musical instrument. Learn more about the book here.


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