Rhythm Resources

Rhythm Learning Sequence

I introduce rhythm skills approximately in the order listed in this Rhythm Learning Sequence document.


The flashcards below should be printed out on 8.5″ x 11″ paper.  You can then enlarge them (129%) onto 11″ x 17″ heavy weight paper using a photocopier.  After cutting the paper in half, the new and bigger flashcards should be 5.5″ tall.  You may want to trim off the extra paper on the right hand margin.

I also have all of these cards in a format where they can be printed directly onto 11″ x 17″ and thus use the full 17″ width of the page.  Please contact me if you would like to purchase flashcards in this format. The cost is $0.20 per card ($0.40 per page, which includes two cards) plus shipping. For example, a file that is 10 pages long will contain 20 individual cards for a total cost of $4.00 ($0.40 x 10 pages) plus shipping.

Simple Meter

Beat Unit = Quarter Note

Half, quarter, eighth note pairs; Quarter rests

Quarter, eighth notes; Eighth rests

Whole, half, quarter notes; Quarter & half rests

Dotted quarter notes & dotted half notes

Syncopations (eighth-quarter-eight)

Triplets (1 and 2 beats)

Sixteenth notes (basic)

Sixteenth notes: extension dots and syncopations

Beat Unit = Half Note

Whole, half, quarter, eighth; half rests

Halfs, quarters; quarter rests

Dotted half & dotted whole notes

Beat subdivision


Triplets (1 and 2 beat)

Compound Meter

Many people have difficulty understanding the concept of compound meter signatures.  Instead of the numbers representing beat unit as they do in simple meter signatures, the numbers in compound meter signatures represent the beat division .  To help illustrate this difference, I created flashcards which I call “Orff style” they are similar to the meter signature style Orff used in music such as Carmina Burana.  The “Orff style” cards feature dual meter signatures.  The meter signature on the left is the standard meter signature.  The meter signature on the right is the “Orff style” meter signature.  The “Orff style” meter signature indicates the number of beats on top and instead of a number below, it shows the note value that gets one beat.  The “Orff style” cards are the same set of cards as the ones with the same name, but without the “Orff style” indication.

Beat Unit = Dotted Quarter Note

Beat unit, beat division & borrowed division

Beat unit, beat division & borrowed division (Orff style)

Beat subdivision & syncopation

Beat subdivision & syncopation (Orff style)

Beat Unit = Dotted Half Note

Beat unit, beat division & borrowed division

Beat unit, beat division & borrowed division (Orff style)

Beat subdivision & syncopation

Beat subdivision & syncopation (Orff style)


Takadimi Flashcards

I highly recommend the TAKADIMI rhythm system. Learn more about it at takadimi.net

The pages of the files linked below print out to become 8.5″ x 11″ posters.  I offer them here even though I don’t use these myself for reasons I explain below.  Some teachers have found these posters useful for hanging in the back of the classroom (where students can’t see them!) so that teachers can use them as an aid to themselves while they’re still learning takadimi syllables.  Keep in mind however, that while the takadimi rhythm system works for any beat unit, these cards are only correct for the beat units noted on the links below.  With good sequential teaching and proper amounts of practice, I don’t think it is necessary (or desirable) for students to see these posters since they can become dependent on viewing the posters rather than actually learning the syllables and associated rhythm notation symbols.

Takadimi Rhythm Syllables: Quarter Note = Beat Unit

Takadimi Rhythm Syllables: Dotted Quarter Note = Beat Unit

Rhythm Composition/Dictation Flashcards

Composition/Dictation Cards; Simple Meter

Composition/Dictation Cards; Compound Meter

These cards can be used for students to compose rhythms.  They can also be used for rhythm dictation (the teacher dictates a rhythm and the students show the rhythm using these cards).  These cards should be printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper.  The notes should be cut so that the width of the paper is proportional to the length of time of the note.  For example, when cutting the simple meter cards, the whole note should be 11″ wide.  Half notes should be 5.5″ wide.  Quarter notes should be 2.75″ wide, etc.

7 Responses to Rhythm Resources

  1. Andy Laster December 10, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

    Thanks for your great website. I teach elementary music and I teach takadimi. The kids love it. I think its so much more expressive than other rhythmic solfege systems. I do, though, have trouble teaching the dotted quarter and eighth note rhythm (in simple meter). Ta _a-di are the syllables I’m using for this rhythm. Any tips? I’m specifically talking about 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.

    • Michael December 10, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

      Hi Andy,

      First, it’s important to introduce any of these concepts aurally first. When I’m teaching simple meter rhythms (meters in which the beat divides into groupings of 2), I always have students keep the beat using an down-up arm motion (‘Ta’ is always down; ‘di’ is always up). For young kids, you might also consider a side-to-side swaying – anything that has a large body motion, particularly one in which the weight of the body shifts. The basic procedure is that I chant a beat pattern on takadimi syllables, and then the student immediately echo, all while maintaining the down-up motion. So if I want to teach dotted-quarter eighth patterns, I’ll chant lots of patterns that incorporate that rhythmic pattern. If the kids can successfully repeat what you’re doing, then try doing the same thing, but with you chanting rhythm patterns on a neutral syllable (bah, perhaps). See if the kids can correctly translate this to takadimi syllables. If so, they’re ready to be introduced to the symbols that represent these patterns.

      You’ll notice that in the set of flash cards with dotted quarters and half notes, for many cards there is a corresponding card with the same rhythm that uses ties instead of extension dots. Since students are more familiar with quarters and eighth-note pairs (I have already taught them this), I have students perform the “tie” card first without the ties. Then I explain how to perform it with the ties (carry the vowel of the first tied note into the place where the second tied note would be). Then I show them the card with the same rhythm pattern, but one that uses an extension dot and let them know that it is performed exactly the same. The concept of the extension dot is somewhat difficult for some kids to understand. You might try suggesting that the dot is just the notehead of the tied eighth note, which has been shifted next to the quarter note? Or maybe just stick with the “tie” cards for a while first, before trying to introduce extension dots…

      Hope this helps!

  2. Susan Nguyen September 4, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    Thanks so much for the beautiful free flash cards!

  3. Rhenda Parker February 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Josh Markham presented a session at our GMEA conference in Savannah recently and gave us a handout containing your awesome resources. Please forward the price of your flash card sets. I would love to purchase as many as financially possible and get started right away. Thank you again!

  4. Kwestin April 22, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    Thank you for the card using the takadimi method! I’ve used it ever since I left Ithaca College so many years ago! I think it is a great method. Thanks!

  5. Ms. Poraczky March 14, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    THANK YOU! These are so great, free and sharp looking! Thank you for this amazing resource on many different levels…
    M. Poraczky

  6. Scott Davis November 6, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    I love your cards. I would like the largest ones. What is the cost for the sets, all and/or individual sets.

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