Is reading rhythm something that's held you back from playing a piece you love?
I've got a great story about reading rhythm - maybe you can relate to it.
My nightmare story about reading rhythm:
When I was about 16, I met a flautist who wanted to play a duet. They gave me the guitar part, I took it home and tried to learn it. I think it was a duet by Carulli.
After days of struggling to read the music, we had our first rehearsal.
Little did I know that this flute player's dad would be watching us and guess what - he was a violinist in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra!
We started playing together for about a bar when suddenly I realized that I had no idea how my part fitted together with the flute. "You have to COUNT!", yelled the flute player's dad right into my ear.
So I tried counting, but it didn't help at all - it probably made things worse! That was our rehearsal... and we never played together again...
But fast forward many years later and I started playing all sorts of crazy rhythms in many ensembles. Listen to the video below where my wife and I play 'From the Dreaming' by Australian composer Phillip Houghton (you can read a Q&A I did with Phillip here).
How did I manage to start reading and learning rhythms?
By using the method outlined here. This is from my eBook series on sight reading: click to find out more
Rhythms can be formed into groups - this is the secret to reading them quickly and effectively! Once you start to group rhythms, you learn that there aren't that many groups used in music.
In fact, within one piece you'll often find just a handful (or less) of rhythms being used.
How much easier will reading rhythms be when you start to see the groups?!
More than you can imagine.
Not seeing groups vs. seeing groups
Using the charts above helps reveal that there are just 3 different rhythm groups in the example below!
There are loads more methods to help you sight read fluently in my eBooks
Dr. Daniel Nistico is a passionate performer, author and educator who specializes in the performance practice of 18th and 19th century guitar music. Daniel's teaching and research aims to revitalize the concept of being a well-rounded musician, with emphasis on topics like harmony that can lead to deeper musical understanding and provide tools for composing and improvising.