How to Count Triplets

Triplet notes can be a little tricky when you are first learning how to count and play them. Today I want to share some simple tricks and techniques that I use to count triplets so you can have some new fun with your flute.

First, let’s make sure that we all know what a triplet is. Here is a picture of several triplets in a measure. 

Notice how each set of three notes (or each triplet) is joined together in the same way that two eighth notes are sometimes joined, with one bar.

Each of these “sets” is one triplet. A triplet is equal to one note, in other words it can take the place in time of just one note. This could be a quarter-note, an eighth-note, or even a sixteenth-note.

The key thing to remember is that whatever note it is replacing is how long the triplet lasts.

Practice makes perfect.

Now that sounds kind of confusing, so let me give you an example. Let’s say that you have a quarter-note triplet. So the length of the triplet is equal to one quarter-note.

The first note of the triplet lands right on the beat and the other two come just after it, but before the next beat.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering how exactly to count that in a measure. The answer is that there are several different ways you can use that each work. Let’s go over a few of those ways now.

  1. Simply use Triplet: Since the word triplet has three syllables, it is a perfect word to use when counting. If the triplet was on the third beat in a measure you would say 1-2-tri,pul,let-4. In this example each note of the triplet would land on the corresponding part of the word.
  2. Use Pineapple: this is another three-syllable word so it works just like the “triplet” word when counting. The only difference is you would say pine-ap-ple instead.
  3. One last and common way to count triplets is to use the the beat it lands on and then laa-lee. So if the triplet was on the third beat in a measure you would say 1-2-3, laa, lee-4 (3-laa-lee is the triplet)

Get fancy! Now you have all the tools you need to count triplets. Practice makes perfect. Have fun!

Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller



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