Lesson 5: Time Signature, Quarter Note, Half Note, Whole Note

Category: Lessons, Music Theory

Piano music is divided by bar lines into small sections called measures.  These concepts are demonstrated in the image above.

Piano music also has numbers near the beginning of the music.  These numbers are is called the time signature.  The time signature is related to the rhythm of the music. Each time signature contains 2 numbers: the top number tells you the number of beats or counts in each measure.   The number at the bottom tells you which type of note gets the beat.  A 4 at the bottom means that the QUARTER NOTE gets one beat.  The 4/4 time signature is a very common time signature.

The QUARTER NOTE  is a black note with a  stem.  It receives one count, or one beat.  The HALF NOTE is a white note with a stem.  It receives 2 counts (1-2).  The WHOLE NOTE is a white note with no stem.  It receives 4 counts, or 4 beats (1-2-3-4).  In the image above, there are 4 counts in each measure.

This lesson introduces you to the basic rhythmic components of music.  Look in the worksheet section for downloadable practice worksheets.

Posted on October 31st, 2008 by sharlene


  1. Trishuna Marion Says:

    This helps me to better understand the difference between a quarter note and a half note.

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  3. angela saal Says:

    short and to the point. very clear. thanks

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