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Quarter Rest and it's Silent Family

A quarter rest and it's silent family, is part 10 and 11 of a 31 part series on musical notation and basic music theory. The notes in music can be so much richer because of the silence and rests that surround them.

"Less is more" - Miles Davis

*Sometimes the less notes we play can make the ones we play more memorable.

What happens when we stop playing or singing during a song? Does the music stop? Of course not, however we do need music symbols to tell us to stop playing, while still keeping time in the music.

A whole rest marks 4 beats of silence. It's worth 4 like a whole note, but you're just silent. For example, a singer can have 4 beats of silence in their sheet music, yet the drummer has no rest in his sheet music and doesn't stop playing.

Whole Rest and Half Rest

The half rest is worth two beats of silence and looks like this:

The way I used to remember the difference between whole and half was that the whole rest hangs down like it's heavy and the half rest stands up because it isn't.

NOTE: In this video I accidentally refer to the rests as notes. These are rests!


Quarter Rest and Eighth Rest

This rest is worth the same amount of time (1 beat) as a quarter note. We just stay silent for one beat whether we are playing or singing.

An eighth rest is worth 1/2 a beat and looks like this:

We don't have to worry about beaming rests together because 2 eighth rests are equal to a quarter rest.


A sixteenth rest is 1/2 of an eighth rest. Remember notes and rests get their names from their relationship to the whole note.

Again, we don't need to worry about beaming sixteenth rests because 2 sixteenth rests are equal to an eighth rest.

*The chart below is a great one to memorize. It shows the relationship of all the notes and rests that we have covered. The 32nd note or rest has three beams or flags.

Often beginning singers, musicians and composers don't add enough rests in their music. If you don't have some silence, a composition or song can sound very flat or static. It can't grow or build dynamically if notes are always being sung or played.

Sometimes it's the notes we don't play that make the other notes sound amazing!!!

Continue to Part 12, Measures and Musical Bars

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