Piano Sheet Music and Clapping Rhythm

teach yourself pianoRhythms can be improvised and easily changed if you know how to play the piano. Consider singing for a moment. Singing is holding some notes longer than others and cutting some notes shorter than others. This is a process that you do not need to learn because it is just part of singing.

If learning a new song using a written piece of music can help you understand the rhythm. Now if playing in an ensemble is your desire playing from sheet music will help the group stay in time with each other.

The first thing about rhythm that needs to be learned is the time signature. Written to the left of the bass clef and treble clefs the time signature is on the music's first line. Sometimes the time signature will change in the sheet music to different numbers and is written on the music where the change is to take place while playing the song.

The time signature is defined by two numbers. One number over a second number. The number on the top defines the number of beats in a measure. A measure is marked off by a vertical line on the sheet music staff. You will find the identical vertical line in both the bass and treble staffs at various points. Look for them in your sheet music.

The bottom number defines which note is one beat. For example, a 3/4 time signature means each measure will have three beats which could be three quarter notes. As you teach yourself piano learn more about playing the piano rhythms, you will come to understand that the time signature is sometimes just a suggestion rather than stamping your feet and playing the quarter note for each beat. The best way to begin is to tap your foot while you play one beat worth of notes.
Now we should look at the different notes and their value as written on the staff.

A whole note in 4/4 time is worth 4 beats, with a quarter note worth 1 beat. In this time signature 4 quarter notes is equal to one measure. Four quarter notes equal a whole note.

The rhythm of music is similar to math. Studies have shown that exposing babies to hearing music with rhythms that are complex do better later in life with complex math. To begin, lets look a few equations that are simple.

A whole note that is worth four quarter notes is also worth two half notes. A measure can be divided into eighth notes. The whole note, 2 half notes, or 4 quarter notes are equal to 8 eighth notes.

When a dot is added to a note, it increases the note by another half. That makes a dotted half note equal to 3 beats, or the same length of time as 3 quarter notes.

- Whole note is a circle with the center open.

- Half note is a circle with an open center with a line coming up from the right side of the circle.

- The quarter note looks like the half note with the center of the circle filled in.

- The eighth note looks like the quarter note with a little flag on the top of the line that comes up from the right side of the note. Two eighth notes can be tied together with a bar that runs from the top of one eighth note to a second eighth note.

Now identify the values of the notes by looking at the sheet music. Let's practice the sheet music rhythm by clapping your hands and tapping your foot. Make sure it is a steady beat.

The process is clapping your hands to the note value rhythm. When you see a whole note on the sheet music clap once and tap your foot 3 beats before you clap your hands again. If you see two eighth notes together you clap your hands once as you put foot down and clap again when you move your foot up.

Select a piece of sheet music and clap out the rhythm with your hands. Now clap out the rhythm one note at a time until you have finished a small section of the music.
After you clap out the rhythm well and repeatedly go on and play the note rhythm on the piano. Now you should be ready to play the composition from the sheet music.


This is a great process to use when you practice a particular piece of sheet music you want to learn to play. This method and piano lessons will train your mind to picture the notes and rhythm.