How can we read rhythm more effectively?

When we read ordinary text, we don't read every single letter. Instead, we recognise groups of letters as whole words, gradually expanding our vocabulary as we read more widely.


It turns out we can do this with rhythm too; there are some common patterns that we can learn to recognise rather than work out every time.


For example, there are actually only 13 possible combinations of 4 notes in duple time. Reading these patterns fluently frees up an huge amount of congitive resource (literally brain power) for other things.


The first edition of the Woodchuck Rhythm app teaches 7 of these 13, in an easy-to-read size; Part 2 will complete this set, and generalise to larger sizes. Part 3 will be about triple time, and Part 4 will explore more complex world rhythms and modern time signatures.



Below are some of the same rhythms scaled up into different sizes. They can be recognised as common words in the same way that we can read capitals and small letters.


This is the table of the upbeat patterns; there are only 7 possibilities! Again we can learn to read these as 7 items of vocabulary.

The illustrations are from the forthcoming “Woodchuck Rhythm Book”, which has more detailed guidance for classroom educators.