Piano FAQ: What Is a Dotted Half Note?

You may have only just gotten to grips with the half note when suddenly, you’re confronted by something very similar, but slightly different. The dotted half note is one of the trickier notes that new learners have to deal with.

Although it may seem tricky at first, don’t worry. The dotted half note is a very common feature of all kinds of sheet music, and one you’ll need to master in order to play the piano [1]. Here’s everything you need to know about the dotted half note. There is also the sixteenth note, better check it out.

The Basic Premise of the Dotted Half Note

dotted half note

As you may already know, a full note lasts four full beats, as dictated by common time. Common time is a central facet of music and one you need to understand in order to play the piano [2]. Common time is structured on a 4/4 meter and is the most common form of meter you’ll encounter when playing the piano.

A full note is four beats, while a half note is two beats. Whole notes and half notes are more common, but dotted half notes still occur frequently.

A dotted half note lies between a full note and a half note. Therefore a dotted half note should last exactly three beats. Think of it more as a three-quarter note.

Reading the Dotted Half Note

The dotted half note looks like a half note, only it has that famous dot to the side of the note. Typically in sheet music, a dot indicates that you should increase the length of the note by half of its original value.

This means that with a half note, which is two beats, you need to add fifty percent of the length (one beat) to the note, totaling three beats.

So when looking for the dotted half note, just look for the hollow oval with the stem which characterizes the half note, then keep an eye out for the dot.

Remember that the dotted half note’s value is the same as the dotted half note rest. While a half note rest lasts two beats, a dotted half note rest lasts three beats.

Playing the Dotted Half Note

Much like learning half-note beats, the best way to start is by clapping the length. You can also choose to play any note of your choice adhering to the count, and not concerning yourself with a pitch just yet.

Once you’ve mastered the length of the note, you can start incorporating it into a melody. Remember to keep on top of your dotted half note rest at the same time, and you’ll be natural before you know it.

Learn More

If you’re learning the piano and ready to buy the right one for you, consult our brand guide in order to find the instrument that best suits your needs, level, and taste.

Learning to play the piano is an immensely rewarding endeavor and once you feel you’ve got to grips with it. Once you’ve mastered the dotted half note, dotted quarter note, and the rest, the next step is to make sure you get the right piano for you.

Stephanie Su

Started learning music when she was four years old, Stephanie is a music teacher and a music therapist who is highly proficient in Piano, Violin, Guitar, and Ukulele. She likes to learn, teach, and share her music playing experiences.

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