In this lesson, you will learn how to count quarter notes within 4/4 time. This will lay out a foundation for learning other sub-divisions of time, including: eighth notes, eighth note triplets, sixteenth notes, sixteenth note triplets, and 32nd notes.
This first line of sheet music includes four quarter notes in one measure. The counts are listed above each note, so you would simply count these: one, two, three, four (re-starting at one for each measure).
The second exercise includes two measures of quarter notes (separated by a vertical line). This demonstrates how quarter notes are locked to each measure, and NOT to each line or row. It's important that you understand the difference. Always focus on the "notes" and how they relate to the "measures".
Exercise three has four measures of quarter notes. This is similar to the earlier exercises, except that the notes are indicating a variety of drum set voices. As explained in the drum notation chart article, notes in different vertical positions represent different parts of the drum kit.
Now, even though these notes have different vertical possitions, they are still quarter notes. As you can see, they have solid notes in the measure with a single stem coming up from each. You'll learn in future lessons how other sub-divisions have a different appearance.
If everything makes sense after you watch the video lesson at the top of this page, you can move on to learning other sub-divisions. Take a look at the eighth notes drum lesson next. It will explain how quarter and eighth notes relate to each other, so you can begin to count beats that incorporate both.
A lot of drummers get intimidated by the concept of learning how to read and follow drum notation. And while the lessons on this website are helpful, you might be looking for more guidance. If that's you, check out the Drumming System.