Counting Rhythm


Quarter Notes:

1 2 3 4

Eight Notes:

1 e 2 e 3 e 4 e
1 e 2 e 3 e 4 e

Sixteenth Notes:

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

To make vocalizing rhythms more comfortable, you can assign some simpler-to-say nonsense syllables to each of the 1-e-and-a’s. I like to teach students to divide each beat into 4 syllables I made up: doom-ba-tek-ah. Naturally, you can make up your own syllables. Just be consistent and use ones that are rhythmic and easy to vocalize.
“Doom” is the beat where you'd be counting 1, 2, 3, 4. Just vocalizing the beat you’d say, “Doom-doom-doom-doom.”
“Tek” is the “and”, or eighth note, between each beat. To count all eighth notes you’d say, “Doom-tek-doom-tek-doom-tek-doom-tek.”
Finally, you can add “ba” and “ah” for the 16th notes between the “dooms” and “teks”. To count sixteenths you’d say, “Doom-ba-tek-ah-doom-ba-tek-ah-doom-ba-tek-ah-doom-ba-tek-ah.”