Counting Building Blocks

We recommend reading our lessons on Note Values and 16th Note Groupings before starting this lesson.

In our Counting Snare Drum Rhythms lessons we worked through a method of applying counting that involved starting with the numbered counts then filling in the counts between. This is good for a beginner who hasn't yet memorized how note values are counted yet, but by learning a small amount of counting we can quickly learn a large amount of rhythms.

Because of the way music is written there are only set amount of rhythms available. Some of these rhythms are very common while some are far more rare. We can break these rhythms down into small 'building blocks' that we can either build rhythms from or break rhythms down into. We have already discussed how the beams used in note values are split into one or two beat sections and it's these small sections that our blocks represent.

You are going to start by learning 7 basic one beat rhythms along with two that last slightly longer. When you have learned these rhythms two example snare drum patterns are given for you to apply them to.

Where you see the '#' symbol, this means use the appropriate numbered beat. For example if the block was to start on beat 3 the '#' would represent a 3 count and if the block was on beat 1 the '#' would represent a 1 count. When learning these rhythms it is important to remember that they can appear on any beat of the bar.

All rhythms used in our first set are based on a time signature of 4/4 and don't include rests.


A crotchet.

Two Quavers

Two quavers

Four Quavers

Four quavers

Four Semi Quavers

Four semi quavers

One Quaver Two Semi Quavers

Mixing quavers and semi quavers

Two Semi Quavers One Quaver

Mixing quavers and semi quavers

Semi Quaver, Quaver, Semi Quaver

Mixing quavers and semi quavers


A minim.

Remember that a minim lasts for 2 beats. The second count will always be one higher than the first. For example, if the first count is beat 1 then the second will have to be beat 2.

Semi Breve

A semi breve.

In a bar of 4/4 you can only have one semi breve. This means it will always be counted like this.


  • Memorize all of the blocks of rhythm above and there counting.
  • Apply counting and play the snare drum two rhythms below.

Exercise 1

Counting task 1 Check Your Counting:

Click here for the answer.

The counting for this is: 1e+a2 + 3e+a 4 1 + 2e+ 3 + 4 +a1e+a2 3e+a4 1e+ 2e+ 3 +a4

Exercise 2

Counting task 2 Check Your Counting:

Click here for the answer.

The counting for this is: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +a1 2 3 4 + 1 + 2e a3 + 4e+ 1 + 2e+a3 4


Buy Me A Coffee

I hope you are enjoying this free content. If you feel like buying me a coffee to say thank you you can do so here.

Buy Me A Coffee