Lesson 24: Rhythm Review – Whole, Half, Quarter, Eighth, Sixteenth, Dotted Notes

Category: Lessons, Reviews

Its been a long time since I’ve talked about rhythm and the time values of notes. So perhaps a mini-refresher lesson is in order. (I know it is for me.) So far we have learned about the following notes:

  • whole notes
  • half notes
  • quarter notes
  • eighth notes
  • sixteenth notes
  • dotted notes

I’ll go over these one by one during this lesson so that we can move on to more complex rhythms during the next lesson.

OK, lets start with WHOLE NOTES.  The whole note looks like a white circle with no stem; the simplest note there is. The whole note is worth 4 counts.

Next, we discussed HALF NOTES. The half note is white with a stem. It is worth 2 counts. That means in the same time that you play one whole note, you could play two half notes.

QUARTER NOTES are worth one count. It is a black note with a stem. You can play 2 quarter notes in the time it takes to play a half note, or you could play 4 quarter notes in the time it takes to play a whole note.

The diagram below displays the whole note, half note, and quarter note, and how they would be counted in a piece of music.


Now it gets a little more difficult. An eighth note is worth half a count. This means two eighth notes can be played in the same time as it takes to play a quarter note. It makes things a little more difficult to count, but you can use the technique discussed in Lesson 14 (Figuring out rhythm). The eighth note is a black note with a stem and a flag. The flag can either be a fancy flag that is not attached to it’s neighbor, or they can be connected together with a bar (see the image below).  These two notations are equivalent, however the notation on the right is used more often when there are multiple eighth note runs. It just looks cleaner, and it can be easier to read.


So the SIXTEENTH note is worth half of the value of an eighth note. This means that 2 sixteenth notes could fit into an eighth note, and 4 sixteenth notes could fit into a quarter note. Again, it is more difficult to count than the other types of notes, but to help count these notes you can use the technique discussed in Lesson 14. The sixteenth note is a black note with a stem and two flags (as shown above). Like the eighth note, the flags can be (and often are) connected together if more than one sixteenth note occurs in a row.

Now for the DOTTED NOTE.  A dot can be slapped onto any note: whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, etc.  Putting a dot behind a note changes the duration of the note by increasing it by half of its original value.  For example: A whole note is worth 4 counts;  A dotted whole note would increase the duration of the note by half of it’s original value (+2), so a dotted whole note would be worth 6 counts. A dotted half note would be worth 3 counts. A dotted quarter note would be worth 1 and a half counts. (This is where it gets fun.) A dotted eighth note would be worth 3 quarters of a count, and on and on it goes.


Lesson 14 does not cover how to count dotted notes.  Keep you eyes peeled and your ears tuned for the next lesson where I will explain how to count out the most common dotted notes and commonly-used rhythm patterns that use dotted notes.

Posted on August 25th, 2009 by sharlene

1 Comment

  1. adriana Says:

    need to put a list of the notes and rests!!!!~

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