Does anyone actually count while playing?


Platinum Member
I can feel phrases, but I can also count.

You SHOULD be able to count when you play, once you can, you don't need to.

It's like showing your work in school. Eventually you don't need to, but if you don't you'll eventually get caught up and wish you had.

For new students it's a must. Also, It shows how comfortable you are and how your independence is.. Have you ever tried having a conversation while playing a beat? or a complicated beat? next time read an article out of a magazine out loud while playing. It's harder than you thing. I personally can't do vocals and play as it's like adding in another limb.

The times I do count are in my bands songs where we have some odd times in 7, 13, etc and there are several back to back measures in different time signatures. Once I play it hundreds of times I don't count. and at that point my freedom increases and I am much more relaxed.

So like you said, it makes it harder, because it is... Try slowing it way down while doing this stuff. Like ultra slow. it will come. When you start doing modulation and weird subdivisions it can really help with the learning process too... You don't need to count all day but when you can, and you take it away it makes everything that much easier to play.


Senior Member
Hey guys, first post on the form, though I've been lurking a while.

A few things came to mind with this. The first is that I've recently been trying to get more comfortable using 32nd note singles in my playing, and I've noticed that the lack of a counting convention (that I know of) has made it more challenging for me. Though it's hard to actually say it out loud at tempo, sometimes I just count "1 2 3 4 5 6 sev 8" per quarter. Otherwise, you're going by feel.

This may sound weird, but an old favorite of mine is the album Cargo by Men at Work (from my youth). There's a song called "It's a Mistake" that I find challenging at the into because the guitar (? maybe some kind of synth) part is just hitting the &'s but it's all alone so my brain wants to put it on the quarters. Counting it is the only way to get your mind straight until it becomes second nature from playing numerous times.


Junior Member
I usually count parts that are odd time signatures or for parts that have hits that are not on just the downbeat


Platinum Member
Beatles Baby You Can Drive My Car. Unless you know where they begin in the measure, they are very deceiving.
Aha! I'm glad you bring this one up.

I've been playing this in a band the past couple years and I'm really curious how you count it in. I let the guitar player start and hear the first note he plays as the & of 4. Then the drum fill starts on 3 of the second bar.

I mean, this works for me. But I'm curious how others count it in.