Method Spotlight: Basics in Rhythm

It goes without saying that rhythm training is essential to all musicians, yet it can still be a struggle for some students. Garwood Whaley, President and Founder of Meredith Music Publishing, developed a method to solve all your rhythm woes. Sheet Music Plus had the opportunity to interview Garwood Whaley, creator of the Basics in Rhythm method, and find out what makes it so successful!

Question: Why did you decide to write this book?

I wrote this book as a way to help my wind ensemble students improve their rhythm reading. Since rhythm is fundamental to ALL music, and is an absolute must for good sight-reading, it was important for me to provide them with a tool that they could use during rehearsals and on their own.

Question: How did the method develop?

I was very frustrated that my students could not transfer, or even play, a rhythm or rhythm pattern from one piece to another. I tried everything I could but nothing worked. I finally started writing short rhythms based on the works we were performing and had them clap and count those rhythms out loud. I discovered that by both clapping and counting, they were able to play rhythms at sight and transfer them from piece to piece. But I wanted something more, something that would develop their rhythmic ability to an advanced level and that would provide them with excellent rhythm skills for the rest of their lives. So, I wrote a series of exercises from very basic to very advanced and began daily rehearsals clapping and counting rhythms. The exercises became Basics in Rhythm that each student had in their music folder. (This became our “textbook” like other academic classes.) My students newfound rhythmic excellence made my life much more enjoyable!

Question: Did you test different methods of teaching rhythm to determine what was most successful?

Yes, I tried lots of approaches but none of them provided students with the ability to transfer rhythms from piece to piece. I discovered that learning rhythm alone and without having to deal with pitch, tone quality, fingering, etc. was what was necessary. Once students mastered rhythm alone, they developed a rhythmic “vocabulary” that could be applied to any musical context.

Question: What’s unique to Basics in Rhythm that you won’t find in other teaching tools on rhythm?

My book includes FREE online audio exercises and covers ALL basic note values and rests sequenced “from simple to Stravinsky.” It helps to master syncopation, triplets, dotted rhythms and changing meters and it improves memory retention with our rhythm syllables. It’s perfect for individual or group, vocal or instrumental instruction.

Question: For what age range(s) is this book appropriate?

During my many clinics throughout the United States and Canada, I’ve met hundreds of music educators who have used my book at all levels from middle school through professionals needing help with rhythm.

Shop for Basics in Rhythm on Sheet Music Plus!


About Meredith Music

Meredith Music Publications was created in 1979 by President and Founder Garwood Whaley and was created on the premise that performance and music education are inextricably linked. Meredith Music’s publications are written to be both instructive and musically rewarding. The publication of its materials is guided by three important principles – that music and music texts must be:

  • artistic and educationally creative
  • intelligently and attractively presented
  • reasonably priced

These principles govern the selection and presentation of all music and texts chosen for publication by Meredith. The highest degree of artistic excellence and quality remain fundamental to Meredith Music Publications as it continues to expand to meet the needs of today’s students, educators and performers.


“KUDOS to Garwood Whaley for yet another valuable contribution to the pedagogical library of effective/efficient tools for better ensembles. Basics in Rhythm is certain to become a requisite for every young artist who seeks to develop the highest level of musical proficiency.”
Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, President, Attitude Concepts, Inc.

“Having known Garwood Whaley for well over 40 years, I can attest to his expertise in all aspects of music education. His legacy of work will surely endure for years to come.”
William Platt, Principal Percussion, Cincinnati Symphony (retired)

“This book does what it claims, but goes well beyond that for some of us. I purchased it on the recommendation of a friend because I have poor sight-reading skills and he said it would improve them. It not only did, but improved my skills on my own instrument as well.”
Mike Tarrani

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