How to Read Music – Lesson 17 – Eastman Counting System (Simple Meters)

The Eastman Counting System is a method of counting rhythms using a mixture of numbers and syllables. We will begin learning this system with the simple meters.

The 3 basic rules for counting any rhythm are:

1. Say the number of the beat on the beat.

2. Say “and” on the division of the beat.

3. Say “e” or “a” on the subdivision of the beat.

In an example of 4/4 there will 4 beats and each beat equals a quarter note.

So 4 quarter notes will be counted as 1, 2, 3, 4.

When counting simple meters as we learned in Lesson 15 the beat will divide into 2 equal parts.

If we have a measure full of eighth notes it will be counted as: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +, because we use the syllable “and” (+) to show the division of the beat, which in this case will be the eighth note.

The next level of counting will the subdivision of the beat, or the next level smaller than the division of the beat. This will be 16th notes in 4/4. So a measure of 16th note will be counted as: 1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a.

In the video above there is also an example of a more complicated rhythm that combines all three levels and shows you the correct counting using this system.

To help you remember and more easily see this information visually, you can download the free Eastman Counting System Simple Meter poster.

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This entry was posted in Bars, Eastman Counting System, How to Read Music, Measures, Rests, Rhythm, Rhythm Counting, Rhythmic Values, Simple Meter. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Ray Linville

    Leon,
    I like the videos you’ve posted but for the “Eastman” counting system you’ve used the traditional counting system labels. The syllables in the Eastman system are 1-ti-te-ta-2-ti-te-ta, etc.

    • leonharrell

      Hi Ray,

      You are correct. I am using a hybrid of the two systems, but i have found that more people are familiar with the traditional syllables for the simple meters. I apologize for the confusion and will try to clarify this in the future videos on rhythm.

      Thanks for your comment and let me know if you have any questions,

      Leon Harrell