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Counting

March 31, 2015

 

When I teach guitar students to read music, we often begin with counting drills. For instance, I'll say, "play the high E string open" (meaning no left hand fretted.) "This way we only worry about the timing of the picking (right) hand." We play and count whole notes, half notes, quarter notes - one line at a time. We then mix them up so it's more like the rhythm to a song. Once the student gets comfortable, we move on to eighth notes and sixteenths. Triplets are also introduced a this time, eventually mixing them up as well. Does this sound more like a drum class? Actually, I would teach piano and violin the same way. Even voice students should know this. Not only does it make overall music reading easier, it helps with improvisation ideas too. When you move onto moving notes around on a page, the rhythm part is easier because we have already drilled various rhythmic combinations. If I have an adult student that refuses to read from a book, I still insist they learn rhythm. If you're playing with other musicians, a lot of times the leader may say this is a "shuffle beat." What's a shuffle? See why it's important!