"Eighth Note Show Us What Ya Got!"

Free piano lessons

Sign up to gain access to our FREE PIANO LESSONS and more!

Your First Name:

Primary Email Address:

(We do not give out your email address)

What an eighth note has got is half of what a quarter note's got - it actually looks a lot like one, too, except that it has a flag that protrudes from the end of its stem. Typically, it gets just a half a beat in music. But don't let its modest profile fool you. We can't do without it!

Whether its stem go up or down depends on its position on the staff, the same way it applies to half notes and quarter notes.


Something else you need to know... on the written page, when you see these in groups, it's common (more often than not) to see them connected with a line instead of seeing them individually with whose flags. It's much cleaner on the page and easier on the eye than having those flags all over the place, as you can see here:


Here's how I like to explain how to play eighth notes:

Count |1 2 3 4|1 2 3 4|1 2 3 4| etc. as you tap those beats with your foot. Do this now...

Every time you say a number (1,2,3, or 4), your foot touches the floor, right? Good...

Okay, so it's safe to say that each beat involves the foot going down and then up. So far, so good?

When playing a quarter note, you actually hold the key down for both of those motions - the foot going down, which is the first half of the beat, and the foot coming back up, which is the second half of the beat.

Well, what if you were to strike the key once as the foot goes down, and then once as the foot comes back up? You would be playing two notes to the beat... and those, my friend, are called eighth notes!

So, if you are playing a song that gets four beats to the measure and you were to play a note for each each half beat, how many would you be playing in that measure? Right, eight!

Hey, you're doing fantastic!

By the way, here's what that looks like:


Another suggestion here to make this even easier... when playing the first one in its "group of two," as you tap your foot down, say the number (1,2,3 or 4)... when playing the second one, as you raise your foot say "and" - above, this is notated with a "+" sign.

Alright, go ahead.. play the above illustration. count yourself in and start playing on "1." I suggest you do this slooooowly at first. Speed is not as important as steadiness - please remember that.

In terms of whole, half, quarter, and eighth notes, a four beat measure could consist of:

*one whole note

*two half notes

*a combination of one half notes and two quarter notes

*a combination of four half notes and two quarter notes...

Can you name a few more combinations? Take your time.

How are you feeling with note values at this point? Have you explored the others? Do so here

Okay, you know what an eighth note is and how to play it - you're mastering note values... good for you! Together, we're quite a team. I look forward to more of the adventure, so stick with me!

Return from Eighth Note to Piano Theory

Return from Eighth Note to Piano Lessons

Sign up to gain access to our FREE PIANO LESSONS and more!

Your First Name:

Primary Email Address:

(We do not give out your email address)