How to Read Music: Counting and Clapping

above video appears in Soundfly’s free course, How to Read Music, which is a starter companion to our mentor-driven Mainstage course, Introduction to the Composer’s Craft, offering more in-depth instruction and resources around reading and writing music. To learn about all of our other Mainstage course offerings, head over to

To recap the video, when you’re reading rhythm in music, you’re counting both the beats in a measure and in the song at large and the rhythm of where the notes or drum hits land on top of that beat. The beat doesn’t tend to change very often, but the rhythm over the beat can change all the time.

This is where clapping can really help to figure out the rhythm of the music and internalize it, no matter what instrument you’re playing. Using the exercise highlighted in the video above, find a piece of music and try to clap out the rhythm while saying it out loud at the same time.

If you need a bit of refreshing, here’s a handy sheet explaining how we clap some of the various rhythms that can be constructed in a 4/4 time signature.

Brushing up on your reading and writing abilities doesn’t have to be intimidating! Explore Soundfly’s many composition-related courses, such as How to Read MusicIntroduction to the Composer’s Craft, Orchestration for Strings, and Theory for Producers to start demystifying music theory on your own time and at your own pace.

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