Sight Reading Rhythms

Now that festival season is coming to a close, I hope that I can get my students back on track with their technical exercises and rhythm drills. 

We all know the importance of good counting.  We also know that some students have a natural ability for rhythm and other do not.  Last summer while teaching Piano Artistry Camp at the Charlotte Academy of Music, I discovered that some students who I thought had excellent natural rhythm were really just hard workers. 

At camp, each student had a binder with rhythm drills.  We took turns clapping and counting rhythms.  I had thought that since the students were playing advanced music that they would be able to sight read intermediate rhythms correctly.  Bad assumption on my part.  We went all the was back to elementary level rhythms before they could successful clap and count the rhythms correctly on first sight.  So while the students could correctly learn the more difficult rhythms during the week between lessons, they were struggling on the sight reading front.

My solution to this was to give every student successive sheets of rhythm drills and sight read rhythms each week in their lessons.  The rhythms that they struggled with they practiced over the week at home.  The ones that were sight read correctly got a star sticker.

A good source of counting work sheets is

I would like to review the Rhythm Clapback/Singback series by Boris Berlin and Andrew Markow that is published through Frederick Harris Music.

I have a few of the Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests books and have found those to be useful as well. 

Playing correct rhythms is just as important as playing correct notes.  Our students deserve a strong foundation in this area.