Learn about Rhythm

Home - Fundamentals of Rhythm Table of Contents

Lesson 8: Sixteenth Notes

Practice PatternsLesson 8 Practice Patterns


In Lesson 4 we learned how to subdivide the beat into two equal parts, creating eighth notes. In this lesson we will subdivide the beat into four equal parts, using sixteenth notes.

How to Write Sixteenth Notes

When sixteenth notes occur by themselves they look similar to eighth notes, but they have two flags instead of one.

Examples of single sixteenth notes



How to Count Sixteenth Notes

When sixteenth notes occur in groups of four, they are connected at the end of their stems by two beams, as shown in the example below. When we count rhythms with sixteenth notes, the common words used for the subdivisions are “one e and a.” The letter e is pronounced just like the name of the letter, or how it would be pronounced saying the word “teeth.” The letter a is pronounced like the syllable “uh.”

How to count sixteenth notes in 2/4 time

Here is a review of the relative lengths of the note values covered so far in Lessons 1 through 7, as well as their relation to sixteenth notes.

One quarter note equals four sixteenth notes
1 quarter note = 4 sixteenth notes


One eighth note equals two sixteenth notes
1 eighth note = 1/2 of a quarter note = 2 sixteenth notes


One dotted quarter note equals six sixteenth notes
1 dotted quarter note = 1 quarter note tied to 1 eighth note = 6 sixteenth notes


One half note equals four sixteenth notes
1 half note = 2 quarter notes = 8 sixteenth notes


One dotted half note equals twelve sixteenth notes
1 dotted half note = 3 quarter notes = 12 sixteenth notes


One whole note equals sixteen sixteenth notes
1 whole note = 4 quarter notes = 16 sixteenth notes



Whenever you have patterns with sixteenth notes, subdivide every beat by counting “e and a” after every beat. Doing so will insure that you maintain a steady tempo and perform the rhythms accurately. This lesson of The Fundamentals of Rhythm introduces sixteenth notes in groups of four. In the next two lessons we will cover different groupings of sixteenth notes and sixteenth rests.

A good way to learn how to accurately play sixteenth notes is to start out with a quadruple subdivision metronome. Once you feel comfortable using the quadruple subdivision metronome, use the duple subdivision metronome, and once you feel comfortable with that one, use the standard metronome that clicks once for every beat.

Practice SuggestionsLesson 8 Practice Suggestions

Practice PatternsLesson 8 Practice Patterns


Lesson 8 Practice Patterns


Learn how to play sixteenth note groupings and dotted eighth notes in Lesson 9.

Write your own rhythms and music compositions! Get free blank staff paper at www.music-paper.com.

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.

If you like this site, please share it with others!
Like Kyle Coughlin Music on FacebookFollow Kyle Coughlin Music on Twitter
Like Kyle Coughlin Music on Facebook

Follow Kyle Coughlin Music on Twitter