Learn to Read Drum Music – Part 4 – 16th Note Groupings

Howdy drummers! Welcome to Part 4 of my Learn to Read Drum Music series. This section is a continuation on Part 3, so click the link to go there, or back even further if you’re a beginner:

If you recall from part 3, we introduced theĀ Sixteenth Note, what it looked like, how to read it, and it’s corresponding rest. In this section, we will go deeper into the 16th note and discuss the different groupings and how they look:

Combinations of 8th and 16th notes


If we exclude dotted notes (We will get to those later), there are three additional groupings of 16th and 8th notes that we have not yet seen:

8th Note and two 16th Notes:

8th note and two 16th notes

The first grouping is one 8th note followed by two 16th notes. You can tell that the 8th note comes first because it only has one beam. The next two notes have two beams, which means they are 16th notes.

To count this grouping, we use: 1_+a, 2_+a, 3_+a, 4_+a
16th Note Combination 1 Counting

Two 16th Notes and One 8th Note:

Two 16th Notes and one 8th Note

The second grouping is a combination of two 16th notes followed by one 8th note. It looks very similar to the first grouping, however you can see that the first two notes have two beams instead of one. This is how you can tell that the first two notes are 16th notes. The next note that follows only has one beam, so it is an 8th note.

To count this grouping, we say: 1e+_, 2e+_, 3e+_, 4e+_

16th Note Combination 2 Counting

One 16th, One 8th, and One 16th:

16th, 8th, 16th

The final grouping is the trickiest. It starts with one 16th note, then is followed by one 8th note, and finishes with the last 16th note. You can see this by the double beam on the first note, followed by a single beam on the second note. The last note also has a double beam making it a 16th note.

To count this grouping, we use: 1e_a, 2e_a, 3e_a, 4e_a

16th, 8th, 16th counting

All 16th Note Groupings


Below is a quick cheat sheet of all of the different 16th note groupings that we have looked at so far. You can always refer back to this picture if you can’t remember how to count something. I would suggest saving this image directly to your computer so you can refer back to it whenever needed.

Groupings of 16th Notes

16 Note Reading Review


OK, by now you should be able to recognize the 16th note, how to count them, and all of the different combinations of 16th notes and 8th notes available.

Let’s do some final reading on sixteenth notes to test all of your skills. If you’re stuck, click here to see the example with the counting written above.

Siteenth Note Reading Final Exam


So how’d you do? This is probably the toughest part of reading drum music. Once you get this stuff under your belt, everything is going to be much easier. In the next post we will be covering a different topic to switch up the flow of things!

Let me know how things are going with your reading in the comments below!

Happy Drumming!

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