Top Resources for Learning to Read Rhythm

These are my favourite resources that I use when I teach reading, and the books that I recommend to my students when they want to work on reading rhythms. Each book has different strengths and so I recommend looking into each resource to find what works best for you. Or contact me if you need help choosing.




Teaching Rhythm

(J. Rothman)

Aimed particularly at beginning students on all instruments, but especially drummers, this book is a virtual encyclopedia of clear and easy-to-read rhythms in quarter time and eighth time.





Modern Reading Text in 4/4

(L. Bellson) 

This book has become a classic in all musicians' libraries for rhythmic analysis and study. Designed to teach syncopation within 4/4 time, the exercises also develop speed and accuracy in sight-reading with uncommon rhythmic figures. A must for all musicians, especially percussionists interested in syncopation.





Odd Time Reading Text For All Instruments

(L. Bellson) 


Now a standard in music education literature, this in-depth study takes the fear out of playing in time signatures other than 4/4. In a methodical manner, this book aids in rounding out any player's rhythmic and reading vocabulary. Perfect for all musicians wanting to play odd times with ease.






(T. Reed) 

Voted second on Modern Drummer's list of 25 Greatest Drum Books in 1993, Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer is one of the most versatile and practical works ever written for drums. Created exclusively to address syncopation, it has earned its place as a standard tool for teaching beginning drummers syncopation and strengthening reading skills. This book includes many accented eighths, dotted eighths and sixteenths, eighth-note triplets and sixteenth notes for extended solos. In addition, teachers can develop many of their own examples from it.





All-American Drummer

(C. Wilcoxon)

Charles Wilcoxon was best known as a teacher and for his numerous publications, which included snare drum method books and solos. He began playing in local movie house when he was eight years old, taught his first students when he was 12, and at 14 was touring with minstrel groups and movie orchestras. He finally settled at the Palace in Cleveland, Ohio where he played from 1922-33. Anecdotes abound concerning his teaching and the operation of his music store, the latter of which he started in the Great Depression of the 1930s. His most widely used works are The All American Drummer, Rudimental Swing Solos, Wrist and Finger Control and The Drummer on Parade.





Podemski’s Standard Snare Drum Method

(B. Podemski)


One of the standard texts in its field. A modern course in percussion studies including all standard and modern drum strokes, drum solo passages from world-famous concert and symphonic compositions, and striking exercises for double drumming. Also includes an analysis of the timpani---the instrument, tuning, correct method of playing, rhythm and beats. Excellent reading material.



Fundamentals of Rhythm for the Drummer

(Joe Maroni)


This drum method book can be used for private instruction as well as group lessons. Private teachers will find that this method is comprehensive and practical. Elementary band directors can correlate most of the material with any elementary band series. 

The exercises, summaries, and rhythm studies will develop stick control, coordination, rhythm reading ability, and confidence. The material will enable the percussion section to develop musicianship and provide musical accompaniment for the entire band.





Samuel Stokes' Reading Rhythms Webpage


This is by far the best series of reading rhythms pages I have found on the internet. Not only are these the best rhythm study sheets available for free, but Samuel wrote them in a bunch of different time signatures and with five different skill levels per time signature. Check them out!


Click here to visit Samuel's site





As I often mention, there is no substitute for a good teacher. If you have questions, or perhaps need clarification then I strongly encourage you to find a teacher and work through these ideas with them. You will develop much more quickly and will eradicate any bad habits that could develop if practicing without guidance. You can always contact me about lessons at my studio in Montreal, or on Skype. But this isn’t about me, it’s about the art of drumming, so find the best teacher you can and stick with it.    

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