How to Read Music - Episode 4: Counting and Clapping

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This video is about counting.

We now know how to recognize and read different notes. But putting them together in a sequence,

ie actually playing a song from a sheet of music, can still be really difficult.

To make it a bit easier, a lot of us use counting and clapping to figure out rhythms before we even touch a keyboard.

That way, when we do start playing, we know exactly how it's meant to sound.

Now playing rhythms can be challenging because you're essentially counting two things at the same time —

the beat of the song, and the actual rhythm you're playing over that beat.

Counting the beat is pretty easy because it doesn't change.

We're gonna use 4/4 time, also called common time, because it's so common.

So we're just gonna count 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4.

Counting the rhythm can get a little trickier because it's not as steady or reliable.

To help out, we use different words to keep track of different rhythms.

As we said before, in 4/4 time, quarter notes last one beat.

So we just count them on the beat, as 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4.

Eighth notes, however, only last half a beat, so we need to add an "&" between the beats to track them.

So we count 1 & 2 & 3& 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.

Sixteenth notes have four notes per beat.

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a.

And with triplets, we count them as 1 trip let, 2 trip let, 3 trip let, 4 trip let, 1 trip let, 2 trip let, 3 trip let, 4 trip let

This is where clapping really helps us, because we have to keep track of

both the beat and the rhythm at the same time.

So what I like to do is clap and say the actual rhythm we're playing,

but track the beat by continuing to say 1 2 3 4 as I go.

1, 2, 3, 4.

1 & 2, 3 e & a 4

1, 2, 3 and 4.

1, 2 trip let, 3, 4 trip let.

By figuring out the rhythm ahead of time,

it's much easier to actually sit down at the piano and play the song.

If you want to get a little more fancy with clapping, you can tap the left and right hand part on your knees.

So I'll establish my left hand rhythm like this,

and then I'll add my right hand rhythm like this.

This can start to get a little tricky.

But, it's a good way to practice different rhythms and start to get in the flow.