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Grade One Music Theory - Lesson 5: Time Names of the Rests (UK Version)

Click here to see this page with the note names in American English

Rest Shapes

In music theory, rests are symbols which tell you to stop playing, and how long to stop for. Rests come in different shapes depending on how long they last for, just like notes do. Rests take the same names as the notes of the same length. 

 

 Crotchets

Crotchet rest.

Crotchet rest in music theory

The crotchet rest is a kind of squiggle which isn’t easy to draw nicely. If you find it difficult, you might prefer to use another version, which looks like this.

Alternative crotchet rest in music theory

 

Quavers

Quaver rest.

Quaver rest in music theory

The quaver rest looks a bit like a number 7, with a circle at its tip. If you look again at the “easy” crotchet rest, you’ll notice that it is, in fact, a back-to-front quaver rest.

 

 Semiquavers

Semiquaver rest.

Semiquaver rest in music theory

The semiquaver rest looks a lot like the quaver rest, but it’s got 2 tails, just like the semiquaver note has.

 

 Minims

Minim rest.

Minim rest in music theory

The minim rest is a small, coloured-in block. The minim rest sits on the middle line of the staff.

 

 Semibreves

Semibreve rest.

Semibreve rest in music theory

 

The semibreve rest is the same size block as the minim rest, but its position is different - it hangs off the second line from the top. 

If you find it hard to remember the positions of the 2 and 4 beat rests, remember that that 4 is a higher number than 2, so a 4-beat rest is higher up the staff than a 2 beat rest. 

Semibreve rests are also used as “whole bar” rests. This means that the whole bar should be silent, even if the bar doesn’t contain exactly 4 beats.