Now that you learned the beats and shapes of a note in sheet music, let’s show you how you can do to read this in practice. Our goal is to bring this knowledge to real life. We don’t want that you go away without developing your musical skills. See below some tips of how to put in practice what you learned.
When you play a piece of a song that has lots of shapes of notes, for example:
First, memorize how much time lasts a quarter note using a metronome (it will be written in the sheet music the “bpm” of quarter notes; so set the metronome to play in this beat). Now, let’s say that you want to know how much time will last that note that is marked as sixteenth note:
To hit this time, divide “in your mind” this quarter note of the song in 4 parts (clap your hands 4 times each time the metronome plays). The beat between each time you clap your hands will be the time beat of this note.
To discover the beat of this eight note:
Use the same division that you did before, but now let this note lasts the interval of two claps instead of just one.
To make this mark easier, try to count from 1 to 4 “in your mind” instead of clapping your hands 4 times. For example, you know that the metronome will be “hammering” the sound “beep, beep, beep…” in constant and programmed intervals of beats. This interval of beats corresponds to a quarter note, in this case. Between each “beep” you will count till 4 and restart this counting in each “beep”, in this way:
The beat of a sixteenth note, therefore, will be the time of your counting from 1 to 2 (remember that the interval of time between each number in your counting corresponds to a sixteenth note, because you divided a quarter note in 4 parts).
But the beat of an eight note will be the time of your counting from 1 to 3, because this corresponds to two sixteenth notes (this is the sum of intervals from 1 to 2 + the interval from 2 to 3).
The duration of a quarter note is the counting from 1 to 1 again, because a quarter note corresponds to 4 sixteenth notes. Let’s check how many intervals of sixteenth notes we have in the counting from 1 to 1 again:
- From 1 to 2
- From 2 to 3
- From 3 to 4
- From 4 to 1
We can clearly see that there are 4 intervals, totaling a quarter note, as we want to demonstrate.
This method helps a lot in our mental counting of beats, because dividing a beat in 4 parts is relatively simple of doing (if the time of the quarter note is not too fast). In this way, finding the beat of all notes and rests of a song will be easy.
This same method can be used to find the other shape of notes, because it is just to make more divisions. For example, to find a thirty second note, you only have to divide the interval between each “beep” in the metronome in 8 parts. Or, thinking in another way, it is just to use the half of time that you would use for a sixteenth note.
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