Key Stage 3 Learning Zone - Get Going Reading Music 4

Assorted Nick-Nacks


This is the last time we will meet like this. We have travelled far and explored many new lands, but now we stand at a crossroads and must part company. Before I leave you to face the trials of this wicked world alone, there are but a few more truths I must share with you to enable you to wear the badge of “Blues Brother / Soul Sister” and all that read it will tremble in their addidas sambas at the sight.


  1. Dots. A dot makes a note half as long again. Oftentimes you will see a dot next to a crotchet. Instead of one beat, it now lasts one and a half, getting ready for some crazy syncopation. A dot can also be applied to a rest with the inevitable consequences.
  2. Ties. If one note is tied to another of the same pitch you play the first one and hang on to it for the time of the second as well, for instance:




           lasts five beats (4 for the semibreve, plus 1 for the crotchet)


  1. Bars. To help you read the music, and to help you feel its beat, musicians break up their music into bars with BARLINES. These are vertical lines going down through the STAVE. The number of beats in each bar (ie the number of times you tap your foot – you will keep tapping your foot won’t you?) is decided by the:

    4.    Time Signature. This tells you how many notes to put in each bar, and the sort of rhythm it has:


4          is the most common time signature. The 4 at the top tells you there should be

4          4 beats to the bar. The 4 at the bottom tells you the rhythm is in crotchets. (one footstamp = 1 crotchet, and there are 4 stamps in a bar. That’s the underlying rhythm. You can go as crazy as you like with your other limbs) It’s all about how many notes there are in a semibreve – there’s 4 crotchets in a semibreve. That’s how you know. If it had been a 2 at the bottom, you’d’ve been beating Minims because there’s two minims in a semibreve – if it said 8 you’d be working with quavers. Usually. Ok, that was hard. You might have to trust me on this one.


3          is the next commonest time. Here you’ve got 3 crotchets to a bar. This is like a WALTZ (boo, hiss, nasty nasty)




  1. Key Signature. Some keys need to have some of their notes sharpened or flattened to make them sound “right”. If you don’t believe me try playing all the white notes from B to B on your keyboard (Wierd!) This is because a Major scale should follow this pattern that we will explain by looking at the key of C:


C                  D                  E                     F                  G                  A                   B                  C

 I----Tone----I----Tone----I---- Semi ----I----Tone----I----Tone----I---- Tone----I----Semi----I

                                                    tone                                                                               tone




To save you the effort of keep writing in the sharps and flats, you can put them all at the beginning instead. Here are some examples.

Note which order and line or space the notes go in


                                         KEY G – F#                                  KEY D – F# C#                                       KEY A – F#C#G#



                                       KEY F -  Bb                                  KEY Bb – Bb Eb                                       KEY Eb – Bb Eb Ab




MINOR keys share key signatures with the Major key  3 (inclusive) up.


Em is the same as G major,  Bm is the same as D major, F#m is the same as A

Dm is the same as F, Gm is the same as Bb, Cm is the same as Eb



Well, that’s about it then. Apart from all the many things we haven’t covered. Don’t forget to tap your foot, and never leave home without a jar of peanut butter.

Back to Learning Zone

When it happens at Holly Lodge