Music theory, Rhythm, Theory Thursday

Theory Thursday–A dotted note?

I’m starting a new series on Thursdays, called Theory Thursday. Each Thursday, I’ll highlight parts of music theory and share a bit about them. Today, I’m focusing on a dotted note. What is a dotted note? When a dot is added next to a note.


When I teach dotted notes to students, I talk about how the dot isn’t an extra drop of ink that isn’t supposed to be there. It’s put next to the note for a reason! I tell students that the dot adds half of the value of the note to the note. What does that mean? For example:


This is a dotted half note. Normally, without the dot, the note gets held for 2 counts. BUT with the dot, we take half of the length of the note (half of 2 is 1) and add it to the note…which means that a dotted half note gets 3 counts!


This is a dotted quarter note. Normally, without the dot, the note gets held for 1 count. BUT with the dot, we take half of the length of the note (half of 1 is…..1/2???) and add it to the note. And this is where things get a bit trickier. Yes, there is a note that gets half of a beat. It’s called an eighth note, and that normally messes students up. But, the dotted quarter note gets 1 and a half beats. A couple of examples of a dotted rhythm would be the “All the way” part of the song “Jingle Bells” or “To the world” part of the song “Joy to the World”.


Yes can also get smaller and smaller lengths for dotted notes, but these two are the ones that students will primarily see. Just cut the length of the note in half and add it to the note, and you’ll be fine!

Apps and Games, Music literacy, Music theory

Flashnote Derby

Back in the 80’s when I was taking piano lessons, the most advanced part of my lessons were the color drawings in my method books. Now, there are so many tools that help in learning. Today, I’m going to share a great resource that has helped my students.

Flashnote Derby is an app that helps students with note identification. You can choose what notes to focus in on, choose how many notes are asked (the default is 10) and you have the choice of a horse race, a Pegasus race and a space battle! Students can either choose the letter on the screen or play on the piano or keyboard.

The game is lots of fun and my students have enjoyed it. I’ve noticed that it’s helped them really improve their note identifying skills, which is a very essential skill to have as a musician!

Check it out at: