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#940079 - 01/15/08 08:52 PM counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1228
I just had a terrific first lesson with my new teacher. Only wish I had made the move a while ago.

Since counting is my achilles heel, my teacher has started to work with me - for some reason ta tiri tiri ta is the thing that has registered with me.

Now I know there are zillions of music books around, but is there one that is easy to understand and explains ta tiri etc.. The book can be written for children, I just thought it would be easier to work on this as part of my practice session.

Thanks. \:\)

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#940080 - 01/15/08 09:41 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington

It's note value counting using syllables that match the attack, duration, and release. They totally avoid metric counting that is best used for ensembles of band, orchestra and choral with a conductor's assistance with baton.

The counting I teach is:

ti-ti (2 1/8 notes)
TA (quarter notes)
HALF NOTE (half note)
HALF NOTE DOT (dotted half note)

I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In" just sails along with such counting:
ti TA ti TA ti TA ti TA ti TA ti TA ti TA ti TA ti TA ti TA ti TA ti TA ti TA ti ti ti ti HALF NOTE DOT, HALF NOTE DOT.

(I saw 3 ships come sailing in, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day, I saw 3 ships come sailing in, on Christmas Day in the morning.)

It really, really works for pianists because we use multiple fingers, both hands, on 88 keys, and every impulse counts. (pun!)

Have fun! You are liberated now!


#940081 - 01/15/08 10:12 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
JerryS88 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 644
Loc: Ringwood, NJ
Musdan - you might want to check out Michiko Yurko's Blue Jello Counting Cards . She has devised a system of teaching rhythm in which each type of note is associated with a word, i.e. a quarter note is "Blue," two eights notes are "Jel-lo," etc. She describes how she uses them in her book "Music Mind Games," but you can also just purchase the cards on her website - they come with explanation and instructions (I purchased the reasonably-priced print-your-own PDF version for future use with students). She has very interesting ideas. When I was teaching piano, I regretted how I got my students bogged down in counting. It is a necessary skill, but I can imagine that using words like "blue jello" or "ta teri teri" could make the process much easier and more natural, especially when you consider how many other aspects of playing the piano require simultaneous counting or number associating - finger numbers, lines and spaces., etc. I don't see why you couldn't use "ta teri... etc." with the cards. They are actually fun to use.

#940082 - 01/15/08 11:29 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
Kreisler Offline

Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13837
Loc: Iowa City, IA
tiri tiri ta is used by Kodaly practitioners

a resource list is available here:
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


#940083 - 01/16/08 09:44 AM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 15462
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Really, any words that match the number of syllables with the number of beats or subdivisions of a beat. If you want to say "watermelon" for your 16th notes, that's fine (but that's a whole lotta watermelon!) The concept is that you have a syllable/sound that goes with each kind of note you have. This will help you keep the relationship between them even, so that your beat will be the same whether you play 8th notes or half notes. Kodaly was good for this, as well as Orff (Orff Schulwerk is the name of the book he wrote on this). There's a ton of information out there about it, but here's a start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orff_Schulwerk
private piano/voice teacher FT

#940084 - 01/16/08 11:47 AM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I think you have to carefully select the words that are carrying the striking movement for you on the key - syllables have different weighs and duration.

I say to always match the syllable with a mouth and tongue shape as though singing, not just your speaking voice, because your fingers are "articulating" just as though you were saying words. Sometimes you have to keep this going for several beats. How they connect is important, too. Choose carefully!

Which would you choose for 1/16's (4)


I feel that "Blue Jello" is cumbersome and heavy - whereas "TA titi" springs and lifts in readiness for what comes next.

Triplets are "Choc-o-late"
Dotted 1/8 + 1/16 is Looong-short/Looong-short/Looong-short

Tapping: Have fun!
LS LS choc-o-late TA
LS LS choc-o-late TA
choc-o-late TA choc-o-late TA
LS LS choc-o-late TA

I call this counting "Magic Counting" and within 2 - 3 lesson kids are counting perfectly which keeps the eye movement moving ahead to the next present movent. They have the instincts of a musician from early on.

The other preparation work I do is when they are working on music with co-ordination challenges, I teach T - L - R and mark it on the page. The 3 choices for hand coordination are Together/Right/Left.

That with a blue dot and a plus sign on the page to show where the beat occurs in the music is so magic. (Only use + if there is movement at that location.)

Cheating? I don't think so. Enabling, yes!


#940085 - 01/16/08 03:48 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I much prefer time names to using words for rhythm. The trouble with using words is that the rhythm can change depending on how you say them.

Take 'watermelon' for example. You don't really say it with 4 equal syl1ables. Most people stress the first syllable 'wa' and lengthen it slightly. So the natural rhythm might be:

Dotted 8th, 16th, 16th, dotted 8th

Using time names is more accurate and consistant.
Pianist and piano teacher.

#940086 - 01/16/08 03:52 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 14318
Loc: Canada
Time has its place. Syllables have their place. But I would opt for syllables for the reason that Chris has mentioned. I would want those syllables to end in a vowel, because a consonant, especially something strong like T or K will give a staccato feel, and that can find its way back into the music. I like additionally to have a sense of the meter and go with the flow of it when counting or establishing the rhythm. Do others include meter and if so, how?

Betty, I remember your ta's and diddles. Children might do better with less abstract things, is that part of it too?

#940087 - 01/16/08 05:21 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
currawong Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 6162
Loc: Down Under
I use the Kodaly time names for simple time - ta, ti-ti, tikitiki, ta-a, ta-a-a-a (don't use Betty's "half-note" thing for the simple reason that we tend to use crotchet, quaver, minim etc here), but for compound time I find it doesn't work so well, that is, it's easy to distort ta ti and not get the right rhythm, so I use words for the most common combinations:
humpty dumpty, tiddely pom (apologies to AAMilne)
This results in lots of cute combinations like "humpty pom", "humpty tiddely" \:\)
Du holde Kunst...

#940088 - 01/16/08 05:23 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
It's just a sound, it's better that it doesn't have another connotation, I think.

I don't use watermelon or the blue jellos - they are cumbersome. Watermelon stops the rhythm from continuing as does blue jellos.

The TA's and ti's and diddles are almost sound effects and can be done in a slightly closed mouth.

I mean it, the kids take off with the rhythms effortlessly constructing long phrases of intermixed counting. I teach metrics too, but later. The TA's really help get the steady beat across.

This is a good thing! Agility on the spot!


#940089 - 01/16/08 05:38 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1810
"This thread reminds me just how tedious and boring teaching beginning piano is."

New Casio PX-360 digital piano, 1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

#940090 - 01/16/08 07:46 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Really, is it now?

I had private interviews at which I give an orientation lesson to the keyboard with several new beginners last week (3 children around ages 7 - 8) and all went home playing 6 children songs well, including Happy Birthday and BINGO melodies.

This week is 1st lesson time, and the first one came today with 3 of the songs, memorized, and was going home from lesson to play with her friends, who all wanted her to teach them what she learned today. She was joyful at the thought. Today she also "composed" a little at lesson, simple thoughts of questions and answers. She can find all letternames on the keyboard, learned the fingers that work for black key scale work.

She is estatic, her mother, and little brother were happy for her, and I'm estatic, too. Such a teachable child who was really getting it!

I see another on Saturday morning, and then the 3rd starts next Wednesday. Their interviews were delightful, too. So, I'm pleased to meet them, and have this opportunity together.

Please show me just how "tedious and boring teaching beginning piano is." Well, not for me it isn't!

The cartoon is not charming. I am!

With tongue in cheek, giving a raspberry isn't so easy! I hope you understand the humor in this!

Betty :p

#940091 - 01/16/08 08:49 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
Dramaqueen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/07
Posts: 70
Loc: Canada
My teacher uses words to help me as well. I find it a lot easier to get the flow of the beat. Some that we use....

Ta tiri tiri
Manitoba peanutbutter (16th notes) - I know not everyone is from Canada but I have to say it works wonderfully, especially for 4 octave scales!

Beautiful Butterfly for triplets

and then when there is a quick run that I might be having problems with we often find words or sentences to help with timing and emphasis. My favorite one was used in a Bach Invention; "Harry Potter is dead" (not true, I know) \:\) My kids thought I was slightly crazy when I would sing this out as I played but it really worked!
Currently preparing for Grade 9 RCM
New private piano teacher
Kindermusik Educator
Just bought: Kawai GM-10k

#940092 - 01/16/08 11:14 PM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1269
Loc: California
I prefer using what might be called a 'neutral' syllable system such as "tahn tuh-tuh tahn" etc... I don't like using actual real words because it shifts the focus. I don't want kids thinking about 'blue jello' or 'watermelons' but rather on feeling the beat. I've taught rhythm this way for 25+ years and love the results.
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

#940093 - 01/17/08 09:43 AM Re: counting rhythm ta tiri tiri ta
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1228
Many thanks for all suggestions. I've learned a lot from reading all that has been posted on this forum.

Had know idea that there were so many methods that can be used in learning to count. Wish I were six years old again and you were my teacher and that I had learned to play those many years ago. Oh well - you can't go back, you can only go ahead, has my mother used to say.




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