What You Will Learn
  1. What rests are
  2. The symbols used for quarter, half, and whole rests

Quarter, Half, and Whole Rests

Rests are used to indicate a period of silence. Each note value has a rest that corresponds to that value.

Quarter Rests

A quarter rest is used to indicate one beat of rest in time signatures like 4/4 where the quarter note gets the beat. The symbol for quarter rests is shown below:

Quarter rest

Rests should be counted just like notes. They have rhythmic value even though nothing is played for the duration of the rest. Here is an example of how quarter rests are counted in 4/4:

Counting quarter rests in 4/4

Half Rests

A half rest is equivalent to two beats of rest in time signatures like 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4. It is indicated by a small rectangle that rests on the third line of the staff:

Half rest

Below is an example of counting half rests in 4/4:

Counting half rests in 4/4

Whole Rests

A whole rest is used in several different ways. It can be used to indicate four beats of rest in a time signature like 4/4. When used like this, it is equal to four beats. The whole rest looks similar to the half rest, but it hangs from the fourth line of the staff.

Whole rest in 4/4

The whole rest is also used to indicate an entire measure of rest in time signatures other than 4/4 even when the number of beats is greater than or less than four. For example, the whole rest is used in the following example to indicate a full measure of rest in 3/4:

Whole rest in 3/4