Reading the Beat Format teaches when each sound begins and ends and how beats can be divided into smaller values, or fractions; it's all math!!!


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Beats Format
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Additional Information

  • Why use the Beat format?
  • When should the Beat format be introduced?
  • Should the Beat format be used for all songs?
  • Assessments
    • Primary grades k-2
    • Upper Primary grades 3-8
  • Teaching Tips

Reading music is the ability to make associations between symbols and sounds. Turning a visual image into sound. If we learn to read these images in it's most simple form, it would be when sound begins and ends. Counting the beats introduces how time has been divided into sound segments. How these segments can be divided in halves, quarters, eighths and so forth. Equal divisions can also be shown as rests, where silence can also be counted. Keeping a steady beat is the foundation of elementary music education. Through counting the beats, this is reinforced with each song. Music You Can Read maintains a steady counting of the beat, sounding divisions only when they occur in the music.

You can begin using the Beat format on the first day, or after the concepts of beat and time have been introduced. Before counting the beats of each song, you should warm up and reinforce the beat divisions using the outline below, while tapping the knee.

Example in 4/4

Count beat divisions:
1. Chant four beats. (1-2-3-4) Demonstrating that each number occurs when your hands tap your knees.
2. Adding the beat divisions. (1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&)
Showing how the beat is divided into two equal parts with a number on the bottom (hands on knees) and the "&" at the top (hands in the air).
3. Adding the beat divisions. (1-ee-&-uh-2...) Showing how the 1/2 beats are divided into two equal parts with the "ee" occurring half way up and the "uh" occurring half way down, between the numbers and the "&".

If there is a difficult passage, or new division, you can have them imitate the divisions as you demonstrate. When you read the music, always ask if the passage you demonstrated can be found. In kindergarten, you can begin to introduce the time signature by asking, " what is the largest number we counted to? Does it tell us this on the music?" From first grade through eighth, you should always review the time signature before counting the beats.

Counting the Beat format is critical to nonreaders, and developing a team atmosphere. It something everyone can understand and accomplish. For introduction and reinforcement of steady beat, divisions of time, and sound, and instant success at associating known numbers into sound divisions, counting the beats is your best tool. Counting the beats while following the Rhythm format helps students to transfer the counted divisions into chanted rhythms, that sustain the sound throughout the division. Developing the note associations to numbered divisions will lead to counting the beats from the Music format, once this is mastered, the Beats format becomes a valuable resource for practicing NEW or DIFFICULT passages.


After counting the beats, ask the students what was the highest number we counted? (4) Which number did we start on? (4) Where are the other beats? Count the beats again and challenge the students to find the missing beats. Repeat until the missing beats are located at the end of the tune. Count the last measure and add the pickup beats to complete the measure. Ask the students to identify the total number of beats in each measure, or the highest number counted between each barline. Demonstrate how the pick-up beat feels as if you are being "jump-started" and the feeling of being lifted up as you start from a pick-up beat. It "get's you going."



  • What is the highest number we counted?
  • Where is this number on the staff?
  • Is it the top or bottom number?
  • Why does the first and last measure not have all the beats (pickup beats)
  • If the note has 1/2 under it, how many beats does it have? (1/2/3/4)?
  • How many beats are in each measure?
  • How many measures are there in the whole song?
  • How many total beats are in the song?
  • Are any of the beats divided into halves? Where?
  • How many ti's make one ta?
  • Are there any repeated sections? Where?
  • If we called this section (staff) red, what could we call this section (staff)?


  • Where does the music tell us how manyeats are in each measure?
  • Why does the first and last measure not have all the beats (pickup beats)
  • Are there any divisions of the beat? Where?
  • What does the dot mean?
  • Which note will count as a beat?
  • Does the beat divisions change? Where?
  • How much of a beat does the slash (/) receive?
  • How many measures are in the song? Multiply this by the number of beats in each measure.
  • How many total beats are in the song?
  • Are there any additional tempo markings? Where?
  • Are there any additional rhythm markings? Where?
  • Where is the toughest passage? Can some one clap it for us?
  • Are there any syncopated beats? Where? Why are the called syncopated?
  • Are there any repeated sections? Where?


1. Let the ADD or ADHD student use a pointer as the class counts the beats.
2. They may pick a helper if not able to maintain moderate a steady beat.
3. Mimic the tapping of the beat while pointing to the notes.
4. Slow the pace allowing the greatest number of students to achieve success.
5. Once mastered, increase the pace.
6. After the pitches are known, return to the Beat format and count the beats "on pitch."
7. Practice difficult passages first.
8. Challenge the class by posting each class's total number of readings to master the tune.

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