Tech Tip:Learning How to Count Notes

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The following tips for aspiring guitarists are courtesy of John McCarthy of The Rock House Method, publisher of video lessons for musicians at every skill level.



Don Rossi; Pittsburg, PA


Q: I have a tablature song book and I don't understand the time of each note. Which are 1/4, 1/8, etc.? It seems that they left out the time info. Please tell me how to count the notes within the measures.


A: Timing is a very important part of being a great musician. I always encourage my student to use the body clock by tapping your foot while practicing; this allows you to feel the rhythm and helps you to understand timing. The chart below will help you to start understanding the time values of each note. Practice this while playing any scale as follows.


  • Whole Notes – Tap your foot four times for each note
  • Half Notes – Tap your foot two times for each note
  • Quarter Notes – Tap your foot one time for each note
  • Eighth Notes – Tap your foot once for every two notes
  • Sixteenth Notes – Tap your foot once for every four notes


Yours in Music,
John McCarthy
Rock House