Repeat signs tell us to go back to the beginning or to a certain section of the music and play it again. This symbol commonly looks like two dots placed before a double bar line (dots on the left).
You can find repeat signs at the end of your music telling you to repeat the entire piece once again. This means you go back to the beginning and play it all over again. While this is a common way to find this symbol, there are a few other ways they are used too.
Internal Repeat Signs
Sometimes you can find repeat signs appearing as a pair within your music. The first repeat sign will have two dots placed after the double bar line (on the right) while the second has two dots before the double bar line (on the left).
If you look at that section as a whole, it appears as though the dots are facing inwards towards each other. That is telling you to repeat this section only.
When you see this, return to the first repeat sign (dots after bar line) and play that section again. After you have repeated that section, go on in your music and keep playing.
1st and 2nd Endings
Other times, you might find repeat signs using 1st and 2nd endings.
This tells us to play through the 1st ending, go back to the beginning or start of a section, play it again, and then skip the 1st ending taking the 2nd ending instead. After that, continue on in your music like normal.
Can there be more than two endings? Yes, there can be multiple endings causing you to repeat more than twice.
The same rules apply. Just keep repeating the section taking the next ending in order (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.). Don’t worry too much about this because 1st and 2nd endings are most commonly used by most composers.
Multiple Measure Repeat Symbols
This is a symbol that tells you to repeat the previous measure.
If a measure repeat symbol is sitting on the bar line in between two measures, this means to repeat the previous two measures.
The double measure repeat symbol is less common than the single measure repeat symbol.
There you have it. Three common ways we can find repeat signs in our music. Take a look at some of your music and see if you can identify all three. The more advanced the music is, the more likely you will find all three.