This is part two of my series on sheet music reading. If you have not read Part 1, and are unfamiliar with how to read notes, I suggest you read it here.
In sheet music, notes are only part of the story. Although they are incredibly important, there are many other things that occur in sheet music that you need to know about. Rests are a good example. Although music is about sound, periods of silence are just as important as the periods where everything is playing at once. We need a way to represent these on paper, this is where rests come in.
Rests are named the same way that notes are, with the most common being quarter rests, half rests, whole rests, and eighth rests. Logically enough, a whole rest will last the same amount of time as a whole note would. A quarter rest will last the same length as a quarter note, and so on (if you do not know what that duration is, I suggest you go back to the previous post where I discuss it in detail).
To the right you can see all of the rests along with their corresponding notes. 16th rests are just like 16th notes. For a 16th rest, simply add a “flag.” You can continue on, creating 32nd rests, etc. So,
Another important thing is the rhythm and speed at which you play these notes and rests. These are indicated at the very beginning of the piece (although in can be changed in the middle). I have talked about it extensively in “What Music Is: Rhythm.” I suggest you read that for more information.
If you add all these things together, you can make some nice music. It will take practice to be able to identify everything quickly but with time, and practice, it should become second nature.