In this WebRhythms lesson, you’ll learn about 8th rests. The exercise you’ll be working on in this lesson will include audio play-along tracks in five different levels that you can use to track your progress!


Reading music is a lot like reading English. In English, letters are placed together to form words. Our eyes take in the visual picture of the words, and our mind interprets those pictures into different sounds and along with the sounds, different meanings. With music, note values are combined to form visual figures that work much like words. Musical figures are also interpreted by our mind and turned into rhythms and these rhythms–depending on musical context–have different meanings. As we learn more of the common musical figures, we are increasing our “rhythmic vocabulary”.

In this lesson, we will be mastering several new figures. We will cover one that uses silence: the eighth rest. In part B, we’ll explore the group of four sixteenth notes. And later, we’ll look at two figures that combine one eighth note with two sixteenths.

What does a composer do when he wants a musician to play a note on the “and” of a count, but not on the “number”? Well, one solution is to throw away the first eighth note in a group of two eighths (the rhythm covered in the last lesson) and replace it with an eighth rest. Since the eighth rest has the same value as an eighth note, any eighth note could be replaced by an eighth rest. Since the eighth note stands alone on the second half of the beat, it is written with a flag instead of a beam.In 4/4 meter, there are four counts per measure, and the quarter note is the note value that equals one of the counts. In other words, the time value of a measure is equal to four quarter notes.

At the beginning of every piece of music, there is a time signature that consists of two numbers. One number is placed on top of the other, but keep in mind that the time signature is not a fraction. Each of the two numbers represents a different piece of information.

Figure B sounds the same as the quarter note when you play it on a drum. But, keep in mind that rests actually signify a certain duration of silence and for this reason, the two figures are not quite the same. If you were playing a wind or string instrument, then you would stop the sound when you came to the rest. Since most drums do not have a very long duration, these figures sound pretty much the same and you don’t need to worry about stopping the sound. If you want to have some fun, try playing these exercises on a suspended cymbal. You can then observe the eighth rests by reaching up and grabbing the cymbal with your hand in order to muffle the vibrations and create the required silence.


In performing this exercise, be certain to keep the speed of the number counts even. Also pay close attention to the fact that you want the “and” counts to split the number counts exactly in half. The more accurately you make your counts, the more solid your playing will become. This lesson’s exercise mixes the pattern of two eighth notes with the quarter note and the quarter rest from the last article. Remember to play on the beat if you see a quarter note, don’t play on the beat if you see a quarter rest. Play on both the downbeat and upbeat when you see a PAIR of eighth notes – then split the beat when you see a rest either before or after a single eighth note.

It might also be a good time to review the helpful hints that we talked about in the last lesson:

1. Keep your counts steady.

2. If you can’t play it, you’re too fast.

3. Play each exercise several times (25-50 should be enough).

4. Count out loud.

5. Keep your counts short and crisp.

6. Keep your eyes in front of your hands. In other words, “look ahead”!

Reading music with WebRhythms is easy! Once you’ve mastered this, you’re ready to move on to the next lesson!


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