How to Count Music with the Pie Game

The Pie Game is a helpful, if not somewhat goofy way to count music. It is especially useful for teaching new rhythms to younger band students, and counting through music before you sightread it. While somewhat juvenile, it is extremely easy to catch on to, and is even used by some professional musicians.


  1. Image titled Count Music with the Pie Game Step 1
    Begin learning the pie game with the simple rhythms: quarter notes, half notes, whole notes, and rests.
    • For every quarter note, you say "pie".
    • Half notes are "pie-i" (dragged out "pie").
    • Whole notes are "pie-i-i".
    • For rests, you say "mmm", and drag it out as long as the rest happens to be.
    • Learn the eighth notes: "ap-ple".
  2. Image titled Count Music with the Pie Game Step 2
    Now that you've learned the easy stuff, move on to more complicated rhythms.
    • A dotted half note is still said as "pie-i", but held out just a slight bit longer.
    • A dotted quarter note is still said as "pie", but dragged out to account for the dot.
    • A dotted eighth note will be "ap--" (the first syllable of "apple", but held out longer), or "app-plee", if there are two of them.
    • A sixteenth-eighth combination is said as "co-co-nut".
    • An eighth-sixteenth is "straw-ber-ry".
    • A dotted eighth-sixteenth is "pumpkin".
    • Four sixteenth notes are "huck-le-ber-ry".
    • A triplet is "choc-o-late".
  3. Image titled Count Music with the Pie Game Step 3
    Once you've learned all the rhythms, get into the habit of using it to get through new music. If you're a director, you may even find it helpful to write out a sheet with some lines to practice the Pie Game with.


  • You can make up different kinds of pie for other note combinations - be creative. The ones above are just a starting point.
  • This method is especially helpful for percussionists.


  • This method of counting can get a little silly, especially in classes of younger students. If you have an unruly band class, the Pie Game is not recommended.

Things You'll Need

  • Music

Article Info

Categories: Music Techniques