I was trying to play a piece of music on my keyboard when I got stuck at this bar no.17 (Please refer to the pic below). Can someone please explain how do a rest symbol and a whole note appear one upon another? How to play these two bars? Thanks a lot.

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3 Answers 3


If you consider the stem directions pointing up for one voice and those pointing down for another voice, you will see it's two voices on one stave. You could show it on two staves like this...

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Notating it on one staff basically means play it with one hand unless other markings tell to use two hands.

Now, notice the fingering numbers on the two parts. The 5 above the A means play it with your pinky. While you hold that for four beats you use fingers 1 2 3 - thumb, index, middle - to play the other part, notes D E F#.

So, you sort of split the fingers of your hand into two groups and working them separately. In this case the top group is just 5 and the bottom group is 1 2 3. The fingers could be split up into different groupings depending on the particular passage.

If this is new to you, try looking up "five finger exercises." That's a common keyboard method. You want to find the type that have some fingers stay down while the others move, in one hand. Finger independence is the goal of the practice.

The passage you gave just happens to fit into a five finger position - five adjacent steps of a scale - but this kind of two part texture could happen with larger intervals like a sixth or octave. Starting practice with the smaller five finger position would be normal.


bar 17: Hold the A down with your pinky for the entire duration of the bar, while playing the melody with your other four fingers (ref. the fingerings on your score)

bar 18: Release your pinky as you play the F# with probably your middle finger. Then jump to a higher position to play the rest.

This is a simple example of two voices in one hand, which is abundant in piano repertoire.


Think of it as two instruments. One has the whole note, the other has the rest and the 8ths.

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