Lesson 8: Rests & Time Signatures


Just like there are different shaped notes for different lengths, there are also different shaped rests for different lengths for when you are not singing (taking a breath!)

   Note              Rest           Number of Beats    UK/Aus/NZ     US
quaver quaver rest 1/2 beat Quaver Eighth note
crotchet crotchet rest 1 beat Crotchet Quarter note
minim minim rest 2 beats Minim Half note
semibreve semibreve rest 4 beats Semibreve Whole note

The 2-beat rest looks similar to the 4-beat rest -but the 4-beat rest is so heavy (with all those beats) that it fell off the line in the stave and hangs down from it. (It's actually on a different line -but you get the idea!)

Time Signatures

The time signature is written after the key signature and usually consists of 2 numbers on top of each other.

Time Sig

The most common time signature is Four-Four - which is also sometimes written as a C (for Common time)

Time Sig C

The upper number is the number of beats in the bar while the lower number is the length of the beat (4 for a crotchet or quarter note)

Four-Four time has four beats in each bar (in simple down-beat songs.)
(ONE-two-three-four, ONE-two-three-four, ONE-two-three-four)

Four Four time

And Three-Four time has three beats in each bar.
(ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three)

Three-Four Time

The first beat of the bar is usually a bit stronger than the other beats (shown in capitals in the examples above).

If you are writing the time signature on your music, notice that you do not draw a line between the numbers (like a mathematical fraction.) There are plenty of lines already on the stave - just write the numbers.


It must be time for some more sight reading. This one is pretty difficult so you may need to come back a few times to win!

Hint - Think about singing a major scale 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

If you need to go up from the pitch, think about singing 1-2-3 on the scale. If you need to go down from the pitch note, think about singing 8-7-6 (8 and 7 are closer together in pitch than most people think)

Good luck!