Select Page
FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites

Learning some basic piano rhythms is an excellent way to practice the piano. What’s even better about this particular topic is that you don’t actually have to be at the piano in order to practice basic piano rhythms. Rhythmic training can be practiced at any level – easy, medium, or quite difficult. In this article we’ll start with some easy rhythms and concepts. We’ll start by explaining a particular rhythm and then give you an exercise to practice that highlights that rhythm. For best results, be sure to work with your metronome and gradually increase your speed.

Basic Piano Rhythms: Whole and Half Notes/Rests

We’ll start with two rhythms – the whole and half note, and whole and half rest.
The whole note is written by drawing only a note head with no stem (treble clef, below). A whole note receives 4 counts (or beats, in music-speak). The whole note means that you play the note on the first beat and hold for the next three beats. The whole rest (bass clef, below) also receives four counts/beats of silence. It is written by drawing a darkened rectangle below the 2nd-from-top line of either staff.

basic piano rhythms 1

The half note is written by drawing a hollow note head with a stem (treble clef, below). A half note receives 2 counts/beats. The half note is played on the first beat and held for the next beat. The half rest (bass clef, below) also receives two counts/beats of silence. It is written by drawing a darkened rectangle above the middle line of either staff.

basic piano rhythms 2

 

Now practice playing – or clapping – this rhythm using whole and half notes/rests:

basic piano rhythms 3

Basic Piano Rhythms: Dotted Half Notes/Rests

The dotted half note is written by drawing a note head with a stem and a dot to the right of the note (treble clef, below). A dotted half note receives 3 counts. The dotted half note means that you play the note on the first beat and hold for the next two beats. The dotted half rest (bass clef, below) also receives 3 counts/beats of silence. It is written by drawing a darkened rectangle with a dot to the right of it on the middle line of either staff.

basic piano rhythms 4

Basic Piano Rhythms: Quarter Notes/Rests

The quarter note is written by drawing a darkened note head with a stem (treble clef, below). A quarter note receives 1 count. The quarter note means that you play the note on the first beat and release by the start of the next beat. The quarter rest (bass clef, below) also receives 1 count/beat of silence. It is written by drawing a squiggly line that intersects the lines of the staff.

basic piano rhythms 5

Now practice playing – or clapping – this rhythm using dotted half and quarter notes/rests:

basic piano rhythms 6

Basic Piano Rhythms: Practicing

As stated above, you do not need to be at the piano to practice reading and playing rhythms. You can practice clapping these rhythms anywhere – at work, in the shower, in the car, on the bus, at the gym. You can practice clapping any of the above rhythms to a steady beat while counting.

As one final exercise, we’ll leave you with the exercise below which features all of the rhythms above.

basic piano rhythms 7