How to easily count cross-bar ties in sheet music

It may suprise some to know that while I've been playing music for over 5 years, and have been reading rhythms from sheet music for about 4 of those, I still have trouble with counting ties across bars. Shifting into a bar which does not have a note on it's first beat throws me.

For example:


X:1
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:C
AA- AA z2 AA- | AA A2 A2  AA |

When faced with such a problem my instinct is to brake it down into simpler components. At first it can look like the second bar is inherently dependent on the first, and thus you must consider both simultaneously. While this is true of the note durations, If the rhythm is considered alone the task can be simplified.

If you notate the same rhythm without the tied notes it looks like this:


X:1
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:C
AA2 A z2 AA | zA A2 A2  AA |

And in absolute time:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

When considered in this way you should see that the rhythm of the second bar effectively begins with an 8th rest. With this in mind the rhythms of both bars can be approached separately. It turned out that part of the trouble I was experiencing originated from having the second bar start on a rest.

Bar 1:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Bar 2:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Once you are comfortable counting and clapping these two separately it becomes much easier to put them back together as a whole. First you can practice clapping the whole rhythm. Then once you've learned to do that it's straightforward to play it on an instrument.

Exercises