READING MUSIC WITH WEBRHYTHMS:
LESSON THREE, PART B
Welcome to WebRhythms – an easy step-by-step method for learning to read rhythm, created by Vic Firth artist and educator Norm Weinberg. Starting at the very beginning, you’ll progress through 20 lessons, where each introduces a new topic. By the end of the series, you’ll be a master at reading rhythm!
In this WebRhythms lesson, you’ll learn about 16th notes. The exercise you’ll be working on in this lesson will include audio play-along tracks in five different levels that you can use to track your progress!
Now let’s take a look at a group of four sixteenth notes that are beamed together to form a full count. When sixteenths stand alone, they have two flags, and when they are grouped together with beams, they have two beams that replace the flags. This way, you can read them at a glance and easily see the difference between eighth notes (which only have one beam) and sixteenth notes. A single sixteenth note is exactly one-half the value of an eighth note. So, there are two sixteenths to every eighth, and because they are twice as short as eighth notes, they move at twice the speed.
It then follows that there are also four sixteenth notes to every quarter note. The trick is to make sure that each sixteenth is dividing the eighth perfectly in half.
Example A shows the proper way to count this grouping: the number, the syllable “e”, the “and”, and the “a”. Together, they sound like this: “one-e-and-ah”. When there are several groups of four sixteenths in a measure, they might sound like this: “one-e-and-ah two-e-and-ah three-e-and-ah”, and so on. When you count this figure, be sure that all the number counts in the measure are moving at a steady interval.
Example B shows you that the number count and the “and” count fall on the first and third sixteenth notes. The “e” and the “a” fall in between the eighths in order to divide them accurately.
In performing this exercise, be certain to keep the speed of the number counts even. Also pay close attention to the fact that you want the “and” counts to split the number counts exactly in half. The more accurately you make your counts, the more solid your playing will become. This lesson’s exercise mixes the pattern of two eighth notes with the quarter note and the quarter rest from the last article. Remember to play on the beat if you see a quarter note, don’t play on the beat if you see a quarter rest. Play on both the downbeat and upbeat when you see a PAIR of eighth notes – then split the beat when you see a rest either before or after a single eighth note.
It might also be a good time to review the helpful hints that we talked about in the last lesson:
1. Keep your counts steady.
2. If you can’t play it, you’re too fast.
3. Play each exercise several times (25-50 should be enough).
4. Count out loud.
5. Keep your counts short and crisp.
6. Keep your eyes in front of your hands. In other words, “look ahead”!
Reading music with WebRhythms is easy! Once you’ve mastered this, you’re ready to move on to the next lesson!