The Complete Guide to Rhythm and Counting

On this page, The Complete Guide to Rhythm and Counting, you’ll find all the rhythm videos on PianoTV. These are the videos that entirely focus on rhythm.

Rhythm is the lifeblood of music. You could get all the notes right, but without the correct beat, it won’t sound like much.

When you’re learning how to read notes, be sure to put equal weight into learning how to read rhythms. Though rhythm counting might feel tedious at first, it’s an absolutely necessary skills.

A Guide to Rhythm: Basics

The first stop in your guide to rhythm is learning the basics. This is a very comprehensive video that starts from absolute basics. If you’ve never read music, or if it’s been years and you need a brush-up, this is the place to start.

This video takes you through all the basic counts, from quarter notes to whole notes. It also includes some counting activities at the end, so you can practice by yourself.

In the guide to rhythm basics above, we learned simple counting and 4/4 time. This video talks about 3/4 time, and how it feels and plays different.

This tutorial on 3/4 time also includes a piano tutorial, so you can apply the knowledge you gain!

Next up in our guide to rhythm: 8th notes. 8th notes are another type of beat that are sometimes confusing to learn. This is because they move quickly and deal in fractions (an 8th note gets 1/2 a beat).

In this video, we talk about how to count 8th notes, and how to hear them as well.

A guide to rhythm: Beyond Basics

Now that you’ve learned how to count in basic time signatures, such as 4/4 and 3/4, it’s time to venture into new and exciting time signatures.

Meet 6/8. 6/8 is the time signature of lullabies and boat songs, because it has a natural sway to it. In order to understand this tutorial, you’ll need to understand how 8th notes work (above), so make sure you’ve got that down first.

Triplets are another slightly more complex aspect to rhythm and counting, and they can be played in different ways, depending on what type of notes are triplets. So quarter note triplets might be played differently than 8th note triplets.

We talk about these differences and more in this video on triplets. Though triplets aren’t super common, you’ll still come across them plenty of times, even in the early stages. For example, this Minuetto tutorial, for people who have been playing piano for several months, uses a triplet.

And if you ever want to learn Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, which is nothing but triplets, you’ll need to master this rhythm.

Guide to rhythm: More complex rhythms

So you’ve got the basics down, and you can count quarter note beats and 8th note beats. The 6/8 time signature no longer throws you off, and triplets are no big deal.

Now it’s time to get into even smaller, faster rhythms: Enter the 16th note. 16th notes, as their name might suggest, are twice as fast as 8th notes. That means a single 16th note only gets 1/4 of a beat. This can be confusing, and it requires a different way of counting.

All of this, and more, is discussed in this video.

Dotted notes add even more complexity to rhythm reading – but don’t worry, if you understand how 8th notes work, these should be a breeze to understand.

In part 1 of this video, we’ll look at some of the simpler dotted rhythms, such as quarter notes and half notes, and talk about how to count them.

Once you’ve got basic dotted rhythms worked out, it’s time for us to move on to more complex dotted rhythms. In this video, we’ll look at dotted 8th notes, 16th notes and beyond.

The idea of how dotted notes work is the same – only, as the notes become smaller in rhythm, the counting units must also shrink.

Guide to rhythm: Other rhythm videos

A question I get asked a lot is, “How do I play piano with the metronome?” The short answer is: By playing something easy and uncomplicated first. You don’t want to first pull out the metronome when you’re in the middle of something complex, because you won’t be able to focus on it properly.

Instead, the metronome is best approached with something easy, like scales, so you have extra room in your brain to focus on it.

For other ideas, be sure to check out the video!

In this (more than a little) silly video, we’ll use the natural rhythms of fruit to learn complex patterns. Ever wanted a simple way to play dotted 8th notes? Say “co-co-nut”. Confused about 8th note triplets? “Blue-ber-ry pie”.

If none of this is making any sense, do check out the video. The video also comes with a free PDF of all the different fruit rhythms. Who knows – maybe this’ll be the thing to simplify counting for you!

Every time signature, from 4/4 to 6/8 and beyond, has its own unique assortment of strong beats and weak beats. In this video, we’ll talk about those beats, as well as listen to a musical example of each.

This is an extension of rhythm beyond counting. When we talk about strong and weak beats, it’s so that we can learn to feel the rhythm more strongly.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed this complete guide to rhythm – there’s lots of content here, and it covers all the basics. Of course, rhythm is a large and diverse topic, so I’ll continue to add to this section as time goes back. Stay tuned!