How to Read Music – Lesson 12 – Rests

A rest is a timed pause, or silence in music.

Just as we learned about in Lesson #9 (Rhythmic Values) every note has a specific rhythmic value. The same is true for the rests. They even share the same names. Whole notes are equivalent to whole rests, half notes equivalent to half rests, quarter notes to quarter rests and so on. Just like their counterpart note rests each have a specific rhythmic value.

Rests may also be lengthened by the dot as learned in Lesson #11 (Dots & Ties). Just like the notes, the rest will lengthen by haf of it’s value if it has a dot attached to it.

When learning to read music, to avoid confusion, it is important to know two things about the whole rest.

First, you need an easy way to remember and distinguish the whole rest from the half rest.  Think of the whole rest as weighing more. The whole rest has 4 beats, so it weighs more than the half rest, which has 2 beats. Since the whole rest weighs more it hangs down from the line.

Finally, regardless of the meter, the whole rest may be used to signify a whole measure of silence. For example, in 3/4 you may still use a whole rest to signify the whole measure is silent, even though the measure is only 3 beats long. The whole rest will equal a whole measure of silence in any time signature, or meter.

To help you remember this information, you can download the free rest poster.

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