Have you ever played with that person who never takes a musical breath?  They're always strumming and every solo is non-stop tremolo from start to stop.  Sometimes the best note is the one you don't play.  Rests are a way to notate when not to play in standard notation.  Each rest note has a unique symbol that matches the basic note durations.  Make sure to check out the "Note Values" lesson to see how rests compare.

Rest Names and Durations

´╗┐The table below shows most of the common rest values.

Whole Rest4 beatsA whole rest is a rectangle that hangs from the staff line.Whole Rest
Half Rest2 beatsA half rest is a rectangle that sits on top of the staff line.Half Rest
Quarter Rest1 beatA quarter rest looks like a vertical squiggly line..Quarter Rest
Eighth Rest1/2 beatAn eighth rest looks kind of like half of a percent symbol.Eighth Rest
Sixteenth Rest1/4 beatA sixteenth rest symbol is a doubled up eighth rest.Sixteenth Rest

Real World Example

Rests are generally combined with notes. In this example in 4/4 time you would play the notes on beats 1 and 3 and rest on beats 2 and 4. Resting means no sound should be heard on beats 2 and 4.

Rest Example