Dotted quarter notes going to eighth notes are challenging for students. Why? It gets into subdividing (making smaller) the beat. I clearly remember when I was a young student being SO MAD because that quarter note should get 2 counts! Well….no. The quarter note gets one and a half counts. So what does that mean? It gets the first and second halves of the beat (the numbered count and typically the word “and” or whatever you use to subdivide) along with the first half (the numbered count) of the next beat. The eighth note gets the second half of the beat (the “and” or whatever you use to subdivide). Obviously, this dotted quarter note to eighth note rhythm can be a challenging when it’s put in front of students in music. There are SO many songs that we know and sing (especially at Christmastime) that have this dotted quarter note to eighth note rhythm.
Some examples of the dotted rhythm?
“Deck the Halls”: The words Deck and the are a dotted quarter note to eighth note.
“Angels We Have Heard on High”: The words heard and on are a dotted quarter note to eighth note
“O Christmas Tree”: The second time the word tree is sung, that word and the word Thy are a dotted quarter note to eighth note
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing”: The word herald is a dotted quarter note to eighth note
“Silent Night”: The word silent is a dotted quarter note to eighth note
The fun of these songs is that whether or not you’re a note reader, you know this rhythm. And it shows up in so many more songs, Christmas or otherwise. When you’re looking for them, they jump out at you! So go look for them!