This site is written by

victoria Williams Music Theory

Victoria Williams

LmusTCL BA Mus (Hons)

Learn more...

ISM Member Logo Colour


Join over 19,000 others and become a member of - it's free!

join for free

We have 2521 guests and 2 members online

Video Courses by MyMusicTheory

Please note: this website is not run by the ABRSM and is a completely independent business.

Get the MyMusicTheory Course Book
Next UK ABRSM theory exams
Wednesday 4th March 2020

Browse by Music Grade: Grade 1 | Grade 2 | Grade 3 | Grade 4 | Grade 5 | Grade 6 | Grade 7 | Grade 8 | DiplomasWhat Grade am I?

bs1Download this Grade 1 Music Theory Course or get the Printed Book Version

Buy Grade 1 Theory Past Papers

Get some help!

5. Time Names of Rests (US Version)

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

Click here to see this page with the note names in British 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. 



Quarter rest.

Quarter rest in music theory

The quarter 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 quarter rest in music theory



Eighth rest.

Eighth rest in music theory

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



Sixteenth rest.

Sixteenth rest in music theory

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



Half rest.

Half rest in music theory

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



Whole rest.

Whole rest in music theory


The whole rest is the same size block as the half 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 stave than a 2 beat rest. 

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



now on amazon topbanner normalamazon logo