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Empowering Kids Through Music

Counting Aloud

Raise your hand if you like counting aloud while you are playing. If you are a singer, wind or brass player, you are lucky. You can’t count aloud and play your instrument at the same time, but for everyone else, like pianists and string players, counting aloud is a tool that will transform your playing.

I have never had a student jump up and down excited when I suggest counting aloud a passage while they play. That is my clue that that is exactly what they need. They can’t do it, and therefore, would prefer not to do it. I remind them that the purpose of a piano lesson is to gain new skills. This is one of those skills.

If you can count aloud with ease while playing then you have the skill and you can decide when and where to count aloud to help you learn the music. But first you have to learn the skill.

When you go to count aloud the first time, it will be awkward and you may feel clumsy and inadequate. That is o.k. and normal for everyone. You have to stumble around several times to work it out. That is the learning process. That is how you gain the skill. Allow yourself to feel clumsy, but keep trying until you get it. If you find yourself getting frustrated, stop. Ask your teacher for help.

When applying counting aloud to your practice, try these ideas. Master each one before proceeding to the next:

1. Clap and count the rhythm of each hand alone.
2. Play and count each hand alone.
3. Tap and count the rhythm hands together. (Your right hand taps the right hand part while your left hand taps the left hand part).
4. Play and count hands together.

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