I've recently got this sheet music from my teacher and there was no explanation on how to play this. I can't seem to find anyone talking about it so I've asked here. If you got some idea, thanks.

Minims and crotchets stem down, with quaver rests directly above the note heads.

Edit: The part I am confused with is the little symbol that goes on top of the note and why it is there, what does it change with how I play the piece. Do I need to play it any different than without it? If it helps, the piece I'm playing is Polonaise in A Minor by M.Ogiński.

  • Please edit to explain: the symbol that looks kind of like a "7" is a rest, for the length of an eighth note. Did you already know that, and are just confused about how it goes along with the other notes? Or did you need an explanation of the rest? Commented Jun 24 at 12:17
  • Yeah, I was confused on why the little symbol was there. The rest I understood.
    – Yessssir
    Commented Jun 24 at 13:21
  • As always, bookmark this dolmetsch.com/musicalsymbols.htm Commented Jun 24 at 13:31
  • @CarlWitthoft - as ever, it's a great idea, but - it doesn't explain the how or why it needs to be used in circumstances like this.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 24 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


It's actually what you don't play! It's a quaver (1/8 note) rest.

The piece as written is for different parts, namely the middle section of the accompaniment, to add up the sums of which the written quavers are part of the bar. If you count them, there will be 8 quavers/quaver rests in the bar.

It's really a transcription, if you like, of several different instruments playing at the same time, so those rests are necessary to keep the sums correct.

If you are playing at this level, and teacher expects you to, it's surprising they haven't been met or explained about before.

  • 1
    It’s actually 3/4 time, 6 per bar, not 8. Commented Jun 24 at 13:16
  • If it's a rest while you are playing, how would you do it on the piano? Sorry for the inexperience, it has been a few years since I played the piano again, and I may have forgotten a lot of things.
    – Yessssir
    Commented Jun 24 at 13:40
  • You'd simply not play any note from that middle line of music. It's there to make sure the timing of the other notes make sense. Of course, there will be the other voices going on instead of a note that might have been where that rest is, so basically, play everything else, in the order shown, and take no notice.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 24 at 13:48
  • @JohnBelzaguy - that's an interesting one. They're still quavers, [half a 1 beat (or 'quarter note in US terms)] but should they, in those circumstances, be called 1/6 notes? I really don't know. I really do prefer the old fashioned way! Maybe a question looms...
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 24 at 15:40

The notation uses the direction of the note stems/sticks to indicate that there are two musical ideas going on at the same time, and you perform them with the same hand (your left hand):

  • at the start of the bar you play the two-note half-note chord which has its stem pointing downwards
  • also at the start of the bar you rest for an eighth-note then perform the three eighth notes which have their stems pointing upwards.

In the bar in question, try to perform just the stems-up notes, counting carefully. Then try to perform just the stems-down notes. And only then try to perform both simultaneously with the same hand.

  • 1
    'Two -note half -note' chord! Sounds confusing! That's where 'minim' comes in handy.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 24 at 13:51
  • I'd use minim in day to day music speak with other musicians, but as many readers of this answer won't necessarily be UK-based I decided to use USA terminology instead. Commented Jun 24 at 14:14
  • @Tim I try to code-switch to match the OP but this one hasn't tipped their hand yet. Commented Jun 24 at 14:19
  • 1
    It might be nice to explicate for the confused OP a bit more how this impacts the music: 1) At no time, in this example, is there a "rest" in which nothing is being played. In other words, you can kind of ignore the rests, except that 2) they help explain when to play the eighth notes that follow them. (E.g., imagine playing only the upward-stem left-hand notes: you need the rests to space the notes out correctly.) Commented Jun 24 at 14:22
  • 1
    @AndyBonner - part of me is incredulous that OP hasn't met the sign before, given the complexity of this piece at this point in their playing. But, yes, you could elaborate on its use in an answer.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 24 at 15:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.