Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M.M. Ed.


Music Education

Committee Chair

Amchin, Robert A.


Musical meter and rhythm; Music--Instruction and study


This qualitative study examines the effect of two different syllable counting systems on four sixth-grade band students. The goal of this study was to see the differences and similarities between rhythm learning and performance between these students in four related case studies. During a series of five lessons, students spent time with the researcher individually exploring rhythm reading and performing on their instrument. Two of the students were taught to count rhythms with the "takadimi" rhythm syllable system as developed by Richard Hoffman, William Pelto, and John White. The other two students counted rhythms using the traditional "l-e-&-a" system of counting most familiar to instrumental teachers in the United States. Subjects' experiences in counting rhythms using these systems were compared and contrasted to find what similarities or differences existed. Lessons with each student were also videotaped, and the lessons were transcribed to ascertain trends and differences between each teaching setting and rhythm system. This was also done to have a complete record of each teaching period. The researcher also kept a journal for reflection after each lesson in order to better understand and reflect on student learning. Data collected from the videotape transcripts reflected that students made mistakes that fell into six categories: (1) holding a note or rest too long, (2) playing a note or rest too short, (3) wrong syllable used, (4) unsteady pulse, (5) stops and hesitations due to rushing, and (6) incorrect rhythm. Analysis of this data resulted in identifying specific problems arising from the two rhythm methods used. Results showed that there were no apparent differences in achievement between the two approaches to learning rhythm. The students, regardless of method, generally made the same types of errors when counting and playing rhythms; they made fewer errors when they counted a rhythm before playing it rather than playing it first. The limitations of the study and suggestions for further studies are given.