Notation means how to write notes and duration means how long each note lasts. Music is made up by notes and also silences or places where the whole orchestra, or just one player rests. Some notes and rests are short, some are long. If we want to a long note to be played we have to show that in our music. If we want our note to be short we have to show that too. The shorter notes fit nicely inside the larger ones just like when we use money, our pennies or cents fit nicely inside the larger coins, dollars or pounds. Of course, the shorter the note, or the smaller the coin, the more are needed to make up one dollar/pound. Whether the note is high or low depends which family it comes from. How long it should last will depend on how many beats that family member pays for. Here's how this works:
Lets pretend that the longest note we know is the dollar (or pound if you are from England). The musical dollar is called one SEMIBREVE.
The next smallest note is a MINIM and there are two minims to make up one semibreve.
A minim is like a fifty cent piece.
But what if we want to buy something that costs 25 cents? We will need a CROTCHET. Two crotchets make up a minim. Can you tell how many crotchets will make up a semibreve?________________
If we want to buy something which goes for half a crotchet will will need a QUAVER. How many quavers make a crotchet?_____________
How many quavers make a minim?____________
How many quavers make a semibreve?________________
Sometimes a family member might want to buy a rest instead of a sound. For this grade of theory we only need to learn about the minim rest or the crotchet rest. They last the same length as their note names suggest.
Lets go shopping! How many beats can we buy with:
With two crotchets and a minim how many beats can we buy?_____________
With two quavers and a crotchet, how many beats can we buy?____________
With one minim and two quavers how many beats can we buy?_____________
With four quavers and one crotchet how many beats can we buy?_________
With one crotchet, one minim and two quavers, how many beats can we buy?_______
What do these notes look like?
A semibreve looks like a circle that somebody sat on. (Try to say that sentence three times fast!). It has to sit on one of the lines in a staff or in one of the spaces. Practice drawing semibreves on your stave.
A minim is like a semibreve with a stick and looks like a bubble wand. Draw some minims on your stave.
A crotchet looks like a minim only the hole is coloured in. Draw some crotchets on your stave.
A quaver looks like a crotchet only it has a little tail that comes out of the stick on the end opposite the circle. Try drawing some quavers on your stave. When you draw two or more quavers next to each other you can join them together by the tails, like twins, triplets or quadruplets.
Find some music and see if you can tell which are the minims. which are the crotchets and which are the quavers.
Activity Musical Note Shopping
You can make up your own beat money by making up some cards with different notes on each one. You will need cardboard ruled into rectangles (5 x 8 cm will do). Once you have drawn up and labelled the cards, you can play this game with a friend so get them to draw up a set of cards just like yours. Make sure your friend makes her/his cards a different colour to yours so that the two packs do not get confused.
Draw a semibreve on one side of the first card and write the number 4 on the reverse.
Draw a two minims on the front side of the second card and the number 4 on the reverse.
Draw one minim on the front side of the third card and the number 2 on the back.
Draw four crotchets on the front side of the fourth card and the number 4 on the back.
Both players have a set of cards as described above they should each have 12 cards.
Find some items for sale. They could be books, empty bottles, toys or whatever you can find around that is safe to use. Alternatively, you can mark some more flashcards as follows and use pretend each one represents something imaginary that you want to buy (the wilder the better). Make up price tags for the items as follows:

2^{nd} item costs 6 beats  3^{rd} item costs 3 beats  4^{th} item costs 7 beats 
5^{th} item costs 8 beats  6^{th} item costs 9 beats  7^{th} item costs 2 beats  8^{th} item costs 5 beats 
How to play the games:
VERSION 1
The teacher points to an item and the first student to put together the right cards (noteside up) and raises their hand gets to buy the item.
VERSION 2
This game is like 'snap'. One player plays their cards note side up. The other player plays them beat (number) side up. Each player takes turns to put one card on top of the other. When the number of beats matches the note either player can 'snap' them.
VERSION 3
Teacher stands at front of group. Each student has a pack of cards on desk or floor in front of them. Teacher indicates the beat to the class and class claps along with the beat. Teacher then sings for a number of beats while the class claps on (hopefully in time). When the teacher stops the students must find the card with appropriate number of beats and hold it up for inspection.
VERSION 4
Teacher stands at front of group and picks out a card from their own pack. The teacher establishes a beat and the class claps along to this beat. The teacher then claps the card they have chosen four times consecutively. The class must guess which note type is being clapped ie semibreve, minim, crotchet or quaver.
VERSION 5
Each student has a pack of cards and picks one out to place in front of them. Teacher establishes beat and class clap along. Teacher then points to individual students in turn who clap out the number of beats on their card while class is silent.
VERSION 6
Students sit in pairs, each with a set of cards. One student holds up a card and counts out a beat of "1,2,3,4" over and over while the other claps out the rhythm. Teacher demonstrates this method to the group as a whole before they pair off.
Get some dowel cut to length at the local hardware store and decorate with coloured tape (insulation tape) and some gold stars for decoration.
Find a new stave with no writing on it. Using a PENCIL:
Draw a bass clef and don't forget the two dots to tell you where the "F" line is.
Make three bar lines at equal distances along the stave to divide the stave into four equal bars.
Fill out your stave according to instructions at this link.