Reading Music Lesson #38: Dotted Half Notes

reading music lessonDotted half notes look just like what they are called…a half note with a dot beside it.

dotted half note

In order to fully understand them, we need to first learn about the dot rule.

The what rule?

Okay, I’ll be honest with you.  There is no official “dot rule” in music theory.

If you research it, you won’t find anything.

This is something my teacher shared with me many years ago and it just really makes sense.

It’s stuck with me all this time and it seems to help a lot of my own students.

He didn’t have a name for it, so I just made something up that I thought worked.

I call it the “dot rule”.

The “unofficial” dot rule says this:

Add half the value of the note to the note.

Let’s figure this out…

1) A half note equals 2 beats.  Now, divide that in half.  We get 1 beat or one quarter note.

dotted half notes

This means the dot equals one quarter note or 1 beat.

dotted half notes

2) Now, add the quarter note (1 beat) back to the original half note (2 beats).

dotted half notes

Doing a little math tells us that a dotted half note equals a total of 3 beats.

Counting Dotted Half Notes

In order to know we are really holding a dotted half note for 3 beats, we need to count “1-2-3” in our heads very evenly when we see them in our music.

dotted half notes

Adding Old Notes Together = New Notes

A dotted half note is really nothing new when you break it down into it’s smallest parts.

All we are doing is adding a quarter note and a half note together to create a new note…the dotted half note.

That one little dot has the power to turn any old note into a completely new and different note.

I think it will be easier now to move on to the dotted half rest.

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