How to Work with Rests In Counting

Here are the three things you have to remember about counting rhythm with rests.

  • A Rest means silence

  • A note is not held over into a rest 

  • Once you get it, it is easy

Let’s get started and count rests in rhythm. First we’ll start by looking at 6/8 time and eighth notes and rests. If we had a eighth note and an eighth rest, then we would play and release. 

Look at what we’ve done here with rests in our next rhythm sequence. Where it says “hold” keep your hands together. Where it says “off” take your hands apart.

This is a tougher one, but it’s time to work a little harder.

repeat bars=

– Repeat bars: these notations mean to repeat what is between the bars.


Rhythm Rest Example

 If you are having a hard time with this, go back and look at each note slowly and individually. Then very slowly count and clap where shown until it feels natural.

Going Slowly

Going slowly will really help you get it down, Speed comes in time, but not without first learning it. Always start slow and work up the speed as it starts to feel comfortable.

In the MLW workbooks we go through each step needed to learn, gain endurance, and then master the rhythms. That’s when you groove on it.

So the key to remembering how to deal with counting rests in rhythm is that it is a silence in the beat continuum. This will be more clear once you apply this to an instrument.

One way to audition this is to take the above and apply counting rhythm rests using a piano or other instrument. Play a single note where shown, release on the rests and hold where indicated. Do it several times and you will be able to count rests in rhythm easily.

Learning Resources