Music is a language. Like all languages, music incorporates a set of characters and symbols to communicate meaning. 

Quarter, half and whole notes are three of the basic note types we use in music to communicate the duration of notes. Think about them like basic units of time, almost like seconds and minutes. 

In order to read music comfortably at the piano, you will need to be able to understand how these three different rhythms work together. Check it out!




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What are notes?

You may have looked at some piano sheet music and seen some confusing combination of circles, dots, and lines. Those circles, dots, and lines are all called notes. In music, we use notes for two main purposes:

Notes give us information about the pitches we will be playing. Notes that are higher up on the staff sound higher in pitch and notes that are lower on the staff are lower in pitch. Any type of notes can be in any position on the staff.Notes give us information about the duration of the pitches we will play in a given piece of music.

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Musicians use a combination of open and closed circles with and without lines attached to them to communicate these different durations. 

Let’s looks at some of the most common notes on the staff:

Quarter note symbol
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Eddie Bond is a multi-instrumentalist performer, composer, and music instructor currently based in Seattle, Washington USA. He has performed extensively in the US, Canada, Argentina, and China, released over 40 albums, and has over a decade experience working with music students of all ages and ability levels.