Writing Rests #3 – Half Rest

Writing Rests - Half Rest - UltimateMusicTheory.com

Welcome to the Ultimate Music Theory Blog Series on How to Write Rests.

  1. Writing Rests Blog Series #1 - How to Write a Breve Rest
  2. Writing Rests Blog Series #2 - How to Write a Whole Rest

In the third blog in this Writing Rests Blog Series, we explore How to Write a Half Rest.

This Series explores how to write the rests properly by hand.  It is not about when we write particular rests.  If you have any concern, either as a Student or as a Teacher, about what rests should be used, Ultimate Music Theory has lots of ways to help:

  1. Teach Rhythm and Rests - This online course is perfect for giving you confidence as a Teacher.  You will discover how to easily determine the division of rhythm & rests.
  2. Complete Music Theory Course - This online course is a great "refresher" course for Teachers and is perfect for Senior Students who wish to prepare for entrance to any Post-Secondary School for Music.
  3. Ultimate Music Theory Certification Course - Want to take your Teaching to the next level of Excellence? This online course will do that.  Join the hundreds of UMTC Certified Teachers around the world who have expanded their Studios and their Teaching Confidence.

The Dolmetsch Online Music Dictionary indicates that a Half Rest is a minim rest, a rest half the value of a semibreve rest (whole rest).

UMT Writing Rests Blog 3 Half Rest - Where We Learn This

Writing Rests Blog #3 - Half Rest

Rests are an important part of music.  I like to discuss with my Students that sound and silence are both a part of their music.

A Half Rest is also called:

  • a minim rest (in England)
  • a pausa di minima (in Italian)
  • a demi-pause (in French)
  • a halbe Pause (in German)
  • a media pausa or a silencio de blanca (in Spanish)

As Students start to learn about rests, we introduce Basic Beats, Scoops and Pulses.  A "Scoop" is the visual reminder of 1 Basic Beat.  (2 Scoops joined together = 2 Basic Beats; 3 Scoops joined together = 3 Basic Beats, etc.)

A Half Rest is a specific rest value used to indicate one Half Note Basic Beat of silence (for example, one beat in 2/2 time, where one Basic Beat = one half note).

A Half Rest can also be used when the Basic Beat is a Quarter Note, and one rest is required for the Strong + weak pulses (S + w) or the Medium + weak pulses (M + w).

If this sounds like I am speaking "Martian" to you, please check out the Ultimate Music Theory Online Courses!  Professional Development is there for you if you are ready to learn.

UMT Writing Rests Blog 3 - Half rest Computer versus by Hand

The Norton Manual of Music Notation states that "Rests should be drawn to resemble those found in engraved music as closely as possible".

Engraved Music today is typically music that is written using a Computer Program.  It is pretty easy to write a Half Rest by hand so that it looks just like the Half Rest that is written using a program like Finale.

How to Write a Half Rest by Hand

A Half Rest is a long, thin rectangle that is written to fill the bottom half of Space #3.  If you compare the width of the Half Rest, it would be approximately the same width as a Whole Note.  The Half Rest must always sit on Line #3.

When I mark Theory, a common Boo-Boo is when a Half Rest is written to fill Space #3 (like a Breve Rest).  This is incorrect.

Use your Ultimate Music Theory Student Whiteboard to practice drawing that thin rectangle that sits on Line #3 and fills the bottom half of Space #3.

Remember when we talked about the "Party Space #3" for Rests (Writing Rests Blog Series #1 - Breve Rest)?  Here is another example of a rest that is connected to the Rest Party Space #3! Pretty cool, eh?

Work with your Students so that they learn to write this Rest correctly.  This is important!  "Close Enough" is not appropriate in Theory.

UMT Writing Rests Blog 3 Writing by Hand

Writing Rests Blog Series 3 - Memory Jogger

Memory Joggers are a fantastic way for Teachers and Students to learn ways to remember the rules.

Theory is full of rules, and often it is hard to remember every single one of them.  I'm dyslexic and often struggle by questioning my own memory.

I love that Memory Jogger that a Whole Rest looks like a Hole in the Ground (Walk along Line #4 and fall into the hole) and that a Half Rest looks like a Hat.

Writing Rests Memory Joggers

How To Write a Half Rest Without a Staff

When a Half Rest is written without a staff, we write a small line below it.  This identifies that the Rest is written to sit on Line #3.

It doesn't matter whether you are writing in the Treble or Bass, or in ANY of the 5 C Clefs, a Half Rest is always written sitting on Line #3, filling the bottom half of Space #3.

When we write the Half Rest without the lines and spaces of a staff, we add the small line below it to give the rest a placement.

UMT Writing Rests Blog 3 - Half Rest without a Staff

The Writing Rests Blog Series

This Blog Series will be focusing on how to write rests, and not on WHAT rest to write.  Each Blog also has a matching Worksheet (with a corresponding Answer Sheet).  To get these resources, join the Ultimate Music Theory Membership!

Thank you for reading!  I look forward to seeing you in the Writing Rests Blog Series #4 - The Quarter Rest Blog.

And, if you missed it, please remember to check out:

  • Writing Rests Blog #1 - Breve Rest
  • Writing Rests Blog #2 - Whole Rest

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Shelagh McKibbon-U'Ren


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