Academy 1

The count-in in music

The count-in to music is an important aspect of making music together. But how do you count in correctly? What should you pay attention to when counting in? And what are the benefits of counting in to music at all?

1, 2, 3, 4 or still 5 and 6? – Tips and tricks for counting in

In sports, people often count to 3 to start. In music it’s different. But once you understand how to do it, it’s easy.

How do I count into music correctly?

To count into a piece of music correctly, you need to know the time signature of the piece. The time signature determines how many beats a bar has and what kind of note value lies on each beat. You will find the time signature at the beginning of each piece of music, here for example a two-four time signature:

There are many different time signatures. We would like to concentrate here on the four most common time signatures and explain to you how to count into them correctly.

The four-four time signature

Four-four time is the most common time signature and has four beats. Each beat corresponds to a quarter note and the first beat is accented while the other three beats are weaker. When you play or sing a piece in four-four time, you count 1, 2, 3, 4. The emphasis on the first beat helps you to stay in rhythm better.

Three-four time

Three-four time has three beats and each beat corresponds to a quarter note. Here, too, the first beat is emphasised, while the other two beats are weaker. When you count into the three-four time, you count 1, 2, 3.

The two-four time

The two-four time has only two beats and each beat corresponds to a quarter note. When you move into two-four time, you count 1, 2. The emphasis is on the first beat and the rhythm is often fast.

The six-eighth time

Finally we have the six-eighths beat, which consists of six beats. Each beat corresponds to an eighth note and when you play or sing a piece in six-eighth time, you count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. The emphasis is on the first and fourth beat.

What should I keep in mind when counting in?

Once you have understood the theory of counting in, you have taken an important first step. And if you want to count your whole class into a piece of music, the following tips and techniques will help you:


In addition to counting, you can also illustrate the basic beat of the music with movements. For example, you can clap along or indicate the beats in the air by moving your hand or index finger from top to bottom with each beat. This helps the children not only to hear the rhythm, but also to grasp it visually.

The right tempo

To ensure that the children play or sing at the right tempo, it is important to count them in at the right tempo. First imagine the piece of music or the song quietly in your head and then count the beat to the melody in your head. This will give you an idea of how fast or slow the piece should be and you can adjust the counting accordingly.

Pupils count in

You can also give the task of counting in to your pupils. Have them count each other into the music to improve their skills and understanding of the time signature.

What is the point of counting into the music anyway?

Counting into the music helps the pupils to recognise when the piece of music starts. When making music together, this helps to ensure that all the children start at the same time.

Now you are ready to master counting in with flying colours!

You can use your newly acquired knowledge about counting in every lesson series when making music together:

The Morning Mood – Edvard Grieg

A Little Night Music – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The Strings – with Arcangelo Corelli

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