How to count Rhythm?

If you never learned a musical instrument in school, you probably never have learned how to count rhythm.  Because what you did since Kindergarten, was just to sing along in a group with others during the mandatory singing classes. Perhaps you learned the different note length symbols, and that was it. Singing is wonderful and easy in class, because others sing along with you: it is no problem being in sync with the group. But if you are on your own (e. g. learning a musical instrument) things get much more complicated. You have to be in charge of the timing.
Even so the salt of rhythm lies in the emphasis of notes (loud, soft or even missing), the basic ability is to be in synchronization with the rest of the music.

An important means to accomplish this task is: Counting. You probably remember that there are two major time signatures around: three quarters and four quarters per measure. And, that you have to restart counting when reaching the three respectively the four. So it does not seem to be too complicated if you only have to count to four.

Counting Quarter Notes

You just count: One, Two, Three, Four, One, Two, Three, Four, One, … .
What about a note, which is double as long, a half note?
Counting Half Notes

You still have to count the note, but less intensive. And of course you have to hold the note over the whole duration and not let you disturb by the counting.  The continuous counting is necessary to keep your basic rhythm. Well, continuous counting that is still easy enough.

This simplicity probably let you forget about caring about counting. But what a mistake: How do you count this measure?

How do you cont this measure?

We need other symbols than only numbers to be able to count eighth notes. The syllable used to count an eighth note is the “and”. In the counting hints depicted below a “+” is used.

Counting Syncopation

Now, you may be tempted to count all the notes as One and, Two and, Three and, Four and, One and, Two and, etc. Because it is simpler to stay in a continuous mode, than only to count the numbers and sometimes also the “and’s”.  But it will get harder to count this way if you move on to sixteenth notes and if the tempo gets faster. Besides that, you loose the primary rhythm, which is based on the numbers.

It is not always easy to count in your mind. At the beginning it is even advised that you count out loud until you feel comfortable. This means you have to learn the melody and the rhythm separately (you cannot sing and count at the same time). All musicians to that if they have to learn a new complicated score.

To ease the process of learning how to count, Listening Singing Teacher has the ability to display the counting hints. Furthermore, there is the option to hear the actual counting, the numbers and the other syllables (“ee”, “and”, “aa”) with the option “Rhythm Count”, to hear only the primary numbers or no counting at all. If a number is here only because of the primary rhythm count, the number is displayed softer and played softer. In addition you can have the teacher kicking the baton every time a rhythm action is required by you. With visual feedback during the clapping exercises Listening Singing Teacher helps you to learn how to count and stay in rhythm.

See also Rhythm and Conductor.

Or watch the video Learn to sing with feedback - Rhythm Counting

 


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