Welcome to Renate's Baton. This blog is mostly for and about my choir, The York Region Community Choir.

But, While I'm holding the baton, I'm in charge. So, if I want to talk about other parts of my life, I will. :)

The choir itself is a community and I'm discovering that we have a lot in common with one another besides our love of music and singing.

When I go off on a tangent, there is always a crowd coming along. Join us!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Keeping time, singing together, counting

Hello Everyone!

This week, I only introduced the topic of counting, and even here I'll just begin to show what's involved. As usual, I'll give you links to stuff online that will help you too.

At choir, I mentioned that in 4/4 time we count quarter notes 1  2  3  4
eighth notes are 1+2+3+4+
and sixteenths are 1e+a2e+a3e+a4e+a (one- ee- and- ah).

So, that's basically how we name the beats. 

I can name a specific beat to tell you when to come in at the beginning of a song. 

For example, in True Colors you start on the + (and) of 3. So, you wait for beats 1+2+3 then sing +4+1  3  (You with the sad eyes)

Notice the whole bar and half note and quarter note rests at the beginning. You can count those in your head and then sing: 1  2  3  4  1  2  3  You with the.

If you're just looking at the rhythm to learn the song you count the rests too and whatever parts of the previous beats will help you: 1    2    3    4   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Look at the next 2 lines after sad eyes. Count the phrase like this: 
1 + 2 +   + 4 + 1 + 2 
(don't be dis-cour-aged oh I realize)

To make sure you hold discouraged and realize long enough, you can think of it as:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 +

For the next phrase, you come in on the + of 4.  You have just an eighth note rest to take a quick breath and then you come in.  
+ 1 + 2 + 3+
(it's hard to take cour-age)

Then, you have sixteenths: 
 +a1  +a3 + 
(In a world  full of strangers)

Here comes the phrase we had trouble with:
 1 + 2 + 3 +  +a1 +  + 3 + 4 + 1+  + 
(you can lose sight of it and the darkness inside you makes you feel so small)

Notice the eighth note rest on beat 4 of bar 12. The word it is short. 

See how cool counting is! I can tell you exactly where I want you to look on the page. 

There are some good lessons online.

Here is one that reviews the value of notes and rests, and shows the values very clearly in a chart and gives you examples of rhythms to listen to. 

Here is a site with links to worksheets with good explanations. Click on and read the first 4. Very cool. I highly recommend these. 

We'll talk more about counting, and look at different time signatures too. 

Yours in harmony, 


  1. Awesome, thanks Renate! Can you talk a bit about cut-time? It always confuses me!

    1. Yes. Will have to do cut time and more. Just quickly, cut time is 4/4 cut in half, so it's 2/2. 2 half notes in a bar. It looks the same as 4/4, but you count it 1212121212. It makes it twice as fast.