Concepts of music - duration - simple note values

Through movement and mathematics, students will kinaesthetically reinforce their knowledge of note values and note names.


1 lesson


Through movement and mathematics, students will kinaesthetically reinforce their knowledge of note values and note names. Notes to be covered: semibreves/whole notes, minims/half notes, crotchets/quarter notes and quavers/eighth notes.


Stage 4

A student:

  • 4.4 demonstrates an understanding of musical concepts through exploring, experimenting, improvising
  • 4.7 demonstrates an understanding of musical concepts through listening, observing, responding, discriminating, analysing, discussing and recording musical ideas


Students will participate in two music games based on note values and terms.

Cross-curriculum content and key competencies

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy


All activities require students to demonstrate their learning and are all assessment for learning activities.

Teaching and learning activities

Literacy and numeracy

Students will:

  • associate note values with fractions and addition.
  • learn metalanguage ? English and American terms are allocated to each note. Having the American term helps to relate note values to maths and assists in learning time signatures.
English term American term Note value
Semibreve Whole note 4 beats
Minim Half note 2 beats
Crotchet Quarter note 1 beat
Quaver Eighth note half beat

Suggested student learning activities include:

  • completing the note names worksheet (PDF 4.32MB) labelling the pictures of a semibreve, minim, crotchet and semiquaver
  • researching the equivalent American terms and discussing how this relates to maths and fractions.

Numeracy games

Physical numbers

  1. Divide the class into two equal groups.
  2. Group one stand at the front of the room and group two sit down to watch.
  3. Draw four labelled stick figures on the board. Standing stick figure = semibreve/whole note, four beats. Kneeling stick figure = minim/half note, two beats. Sitting stick figure = crotchet/quarter note, one beat. Lying stick figure = quaver/eighth note, half a beat.
  4. Call a number (4, 2, 1 or half) and students quickly move to the matching position (standing, kneeling, sitting or lying). The last student to move to the correct position and those who are incorrect, are out.
  5. Swap groups and repeat the activity. The last students left in each group compete with each other.
  6. Make the activity harder by doing extra rounds using either the English term or the American term.

Sticky numbers

  1. Have students gather in a large open space.
  2. Call out a random number (for example 13). Students then form groups to add up to the number thirteen by standing/kneeling/sitting/lying (or combinations of these).
  3. Everyone in the class must be included. Therefore, what might have been one person sitting (1 beat), has to become 2 people lying (2 x half beat).



Students could:

  • use the English and or American terms in both numeracy games.

Life skills

Life skills outcomes

A student:

  • LS 1 a student uses movement, vocalisation or instruments to respond to a range of music.

Students could:

  • complete maths activity one but are limited to note values only.


Feedback is formative during the lessons. Students move to the corresponding position for each note value or note name.

Reference list and resources

  • Music 7-10 Syllabus copyright NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2003.
  • Note names worksheet (PDF 4.32MB)
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