Whole and Half Steps
Half Steps - A half step means to move one note upwards or to the right or to move one note downwards or to the left. Let's say you are on Middle C, the next note to that will be a black key (C# or Db), that's a half-step. Let's say you are on E, move one note up or one note to the right, that note will be F.
Whole Steps - A whole step is two half steps added together. To simplify, it is two notes upwards or to the right or two notes downwards or to the left. Let's say you are on C, go two notes to the right, first note will be a black key (C# or Db), second note will be a white key which is D, that's a whole step. Let's say you are on E, first note will be a white key (F), second note will be a black key (F# or Gb), that's a whole step. Here's more explanation on half-steps and whole steps.
Sharps and Flats
Sharps - To sharp a key you must move one half step upwards or one note upwards. So if you're on the key of C move one note upwards, in this case it is a black key, that will be C sharp. The symbol used for sharps is #. There are five sharp notes: C# - D# - F# - G# - A#, here's an illustration on the keyboard.
Flats - To flat a key you must move one half step downwards or one note downwards. Let's take the key of C as an example again, move one note downwards and you'll land on a white key, that's C flat. The symbol used for flats is like a small b. There are five flat notes: D - E - G - A - B, here's an illustration on the keyboard
Remember: A note can have many names, it can be a sharp or a flat depending on what key you are on. So C sharp is also D flat, F sharp is also G flat and so on. Notes also have a natural position, this means you shouldn't sharp or flat the note.
Notes and Beats
Whole Note - A whole note looks like a black circle with a hole. It gets 4 beats.
Half Note- A half note also looks like a black circle with a hole but it also has a stem. It gets two beats.
Quarter Note - A quarter note looks like a half note but the hole is shaded in. It gets 1 beat.
Eighth Note - An eighth note looks like a quarter note with a flag. It gets 1/2 beat.
Sixteenth Note - A sixteenth note looks like an eighth note but has two flags. It gets 1/4 beat.
Remember: Where there are notes there are also rests. A rest means silence or an interval in a music piece. The rest is equivalent to a particular note value. So a whole rest is equal to a whole note, meaning you will pause for 4 counts. A half rest is equivalent to a half note, which means you will pause for 2 counts and so on. Here's an illustration of the symbols used for rests from Cinderzelda.Com
Measure and Time Signatures
Measure - A measure is the vertical black bars, also called bar lines, that divide a music staff. Here's an illustration of a measure.
Time Signature - It indicates how many notes and what kind of notes in a measure. The time signtaures used in music are 4/4, also known as common time, and 3/4. There is also 5/2, 6/8 etc. The number on top is the number of notes per measure. So in 4/4, the number 4 on top means there are 4 notes in one measure. The number on the bottom indicates what kind of note. So in 4/4 again, the number 4 at the bottom means quarter note. Therefor, 4/4 means there are 4 quarter notes in a measure. I know, I know this is a bit confusing. You might ask why quarter note shouldn't it be a whole note since it gets 4 beats? Well no, 4/4 means there are 4 notes that when played will be equal to 4 beats. A quarter note gets one beat, so 4 quarter notes = 4 beats. Here's a guide to further help you:
- When the bottom number is 1 = whole note
- When the bottom number is 2 = half note
- When the bottom number is 4 = quarter note
- When the bottom number is 6 = eighth note
- When the bottom number is 16 = sixteenth note
Games and Online Activities Here are some links to games available online that will further help you understand the lessons:
I strongly suggest you visit the Music Glossaries, it has definitions of words commonly used in music, particularly piano playing.