Learn piano online - Counting

Learn piano online, count your way towards brilliant articulation. I was handed a copy of the programme notes to the performance Ensemble Koschka was about to begin. According to it, Liszt’s Liebesträum, No.37 was an inspiration for the Elvis Presley’s song ‘Today, Tomorrow and Forever’ in the film Viva Las Vegas.

I was curious to know if that was true, so I looked up ‘Today, Tomorrow and Forever’. Found it on a certain video sharing website. Carefully listening to it, a subtle resemblence in the melody is noticeable in small portions of the song.

Not unlike science in which modern day scientists build upon the knowledge of their predecessors, the same is true for music.

Counting the beats
Learn piano online, counting and articulation

As her hands danced gracefully on the piano, sashaying from one key to the next, how does Alyssa know at which exact moment to prance away from a key and proceed to play the next?


  • What? - Count the beats
  • Why? - Absorb rhythm, tempo and timing

  • How? - Out loud initially. Silently later on

She counted the beats. Silently of course, for experienced performers it is instinctive. For beginners, most teachers recommend counting out loud when you are practising.

Being an obedient student I heeded my own teacher’s recommendation for years, as I learnt more songs and as my musical senses became more developed I found that I could count silently and still play well enough.

The problem with counting out loud when practicing is; it expends energy causing fatigue. You want to be able to practice as much as you can with what little time you have, therefore being economical with your stamina is important.

The point is, count out loud at first. As you gain more experience and have acquired a good sense of the music you are playing, counting silently works just as well.

Whole notes, minims, crotchets, quavers, semiquavers and demisemiquavers each have their own duration of how long they are to be played. The duration of notes are known as beats.

They set the pace of a composition. If a song is fast paced semiquavers would be packed close together in a bar. A slower paced song would have crotchets and minims scattered within a bar with ample space distancing them from each other.

4 beats make up a whole note. 2 a minim, 1 a crotchet, ½ a semiquaver and so on, learning to count the beats when practicing or even when you are actually performing helps you to get the tempo, rhythm and timing of the song you are playing right.

Basic arithmetic comes into play, in addition to all the Italian words you had to learn to understand the playing instruction commonly found in classical pieces.

Funny isn’t it how learning the piano forces you to apply math and a foreign language. I became a fan of a Korean movie while learning to play Pacheibel’s Canon in D because it was featured in it.

Counting the beats of the notes in a musical phrase leads toward accurate articulation of a song on the piano - which in itself is a testament of a successful interpretation of a composition by the pianist.

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