Reading
rhythm is one of the hardest parts of handling notation.
To make it easy to manage, we have a counting system that turns
written rhythms into something verbal.
This explains how the rhythm sounds.

We
count a bar of 4/4 as “1 2 3 4”. Each number represents a
beat of the bar.
Suppose we then say that each of those numbers represents a note;
that “1 2 3 4” would be a bar of 4 crotchets.

Supposing
the bar starts with 2 quavers, followed by 3 crotchets.
That adds up to 4/4 and we can now count it as “1 and 2 3 4”.
The 1 represents a note on beat 1 and the “and” is the quaver
between beats 1 and 2.

Now
the bar starts with a minim;
put the “2” in brackets to show that there is not a new note
on beat 2, but a continuation of the note on beat 1. “1 (2) 3 4”

The
same bracket idea can be used for a rest.

Then we can combine all the parts of this counting system to explain any
bar of rhythm
using semibreves, minims, crotchets and quavers – both notes and
rests.

Dotted
rhythms start to get a bit more complicated but the counting system still
works.