It’s time for this month’s new theme here on Read The Dots: Rhythm Reading.

Each month we have a theme, introduced here on the blog. That sets the scene for the new membership video available only to subscribers, and the tips and tricks in the FREE Read The Dots Facebook group.

If you want to improve your skills when it comes to reading music, before you do anything else, please join me in the FREE Facebook group. There are daily tips, guides, news & advice.

I’d love to see you there!

But if you’re serious about taking your music reading to another level, then you should check out all the amazing benefits of becoming a subscriber of Read The Dots for less than you think.

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(I’m on a mission to help 1000 people get better at reading music in 2019, so however you prefer to get help, thanks for being part of this!)

I’ve got a theory.

A music theory.

Sorry… I deleted that in disbelief that I’d written it, then wrote it again cos I liked it too much!

So my theory is this.

People who try to learn to read music spend too long fixating on the WHAT and not enough time on the WHEN. I’ll explain more about what I mean by that in a second, but know that I believe that this is SO important a point, it could make a HUGE difference to your ability to not only read music, but SIGHT-read music!


You see, there are two components to learning to read music: the WHAT (what note is it, which pitch do I need to play or sing?) and the WHEN (how long does it last for and when do I need to do it?)

And it’s really easy to focus a LOT on the WHAT (look at that for a rhyme that shows up the madness of the English language!). Most people spend a long time looking at notes on a stave. They ask if it’s a line or space, and count which line or space it is and so on. And I get it. It’s obviously really important, and without some skills in this area, you will really struggle to read music.


But sometimes I think people don’t spend an equal amount of time learning how to read the WHEN. Sometimes I wonder if that’s because once you’ve learnt what 4 or 5 different note lengths look like (in fact there’s a video in the Members Area of Read The Dots called “The 5 Most Important Note Lengths), it feels like, well, you’re a long way there (clue – YOU ARE!), and so you best focus on the WHAT note it is again.

But it’s not just enough to recognise a small number of note lengths – you need to know WHEN to play them. And that’s where a bit of basic rhythm reading skills comes in. Because if you can start to be able to quickly work out WHEN notes need to happen, and also start to recognise some of the commonly used patterns, you’re going to be able to read that new piece of music a lot easier.


And I also believe that as you get more experienced in reading from music, even if you can’t necessarily read every note in a melody or whatever, there will be times when music does sometimes go to WHAT note you are expecting (if only it was always!). So if you can just know WHEN to do it, you will start to take some big steps into improving your reading and sightreading. This can especially be the case, for example, if you’re perhaps needing to sing a harmony in a community choir along with another section of the choir who are singing the tune.

The good news is that there are some simple tips that you can start to practice to help you count the WHEN. That means alongside your WHAT skill, you can begin to improve your fluency, and it’s all down to thinking of beats like gridlines on a map or a graph.



Sound complex and a bit maths-y? Don’t worry. I promise it’s not.

And you certainly won’t need a calculator or an abacus! In fact – can you count to 4?

You’re already half-way there!


Here’s a clip of one of the member videos about this very subject.

I hope it helps you.


So this brings us to this month’s theme…

Rhythm reading – what IS the best way to practice your WHEN as well as your WHAT?

I’m looking forward to talking to as many of you as possible about what works for you.

Want to continue the discussion?

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