Learn to Read Drum Music – Part 2 – The Eighth Note

Hey y’all!

Welcome to part 2 of “Learn to Read Drum Music”. In this section we will build off and expand upon of what you learned in Part 1. Click the link for Learn to Read Drum Music – Part 1, if you missed my first post or are confused and need to go back to the basics.

The Eighth Note

What is the Eighth Note
These are “Eighth Notes”. In a 4/4 time signature, they take half of one beat (quarter note), or 1/8th of the bar. If math isn’t your thing, think back to quarter notes. Each quarter note takes up one beat in a bar. Since there are four beats in one bar, each bar has four quarter notes. If you cut a quarter note in two, you have two eighth notes. So, it is possible for you to place eight eighth notes into one bar.

Confused? Sometimes seeing is understanding:

Quarter to Eighth
As you can see from the above image, one quarter note can be separated into two eighth notes.

How to Count Eighth Notes

If you remember, when counting quarter notes, we use the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4. Those are the anchors of counting in 4/4 time. When we are counting eighth notes, we keep the 1,2,3,4, but add in the word “and” in between. If counting a bar full of eighth notes, we would say “one-and, two-and, three-and, four-and”.

How to Count Eighth Notes


On it’s own, the eighth note is written as a quarter note with a little “flag” at the end of the stem. However, when you place more than one eighth note together, they become linked with what is called a “beam”. You can beam as many eighth notes together as you wish, however to make things easier on the reader, we usually try and keep them in groups of four max.

Eighth Note Beaming

The Eighth Rest

Just like the quarter note has a corresponding quarter rest, the eighth note has the “eighth rest”. It is equal in value to the eighth note, however like any rest, you do not play anything for its duration.

How to Count Eighth Notes

*** Note: I have switched out the word “and” for a plus sign (+). This just makes it easier to read and write.


At this point you should be familiar with what eighth notes are and how they look. You should also understand how to beam multiple notes together, how to count eighth notes, and what the eighth rest is. Let’s test your knowledge with some short reading.

let’s start with just eight notes and quarter notes:

Eighth Note Reading

Next we will add in quarter rests:

Eighth Note Reading with Rests

***Note: I have eliminated writing the word “rest”, and will continue with this pattern from now on

Lastly, we can add in eighth rests as well

Eighth Note Reading with all Rests

Let’s See What You’ve Got

Ok, for this last one, I won’t write down the counting notes on top and everything is up to you. If you can’t remember how something is supposed to go, just go back up and look at the reading examples for help. Otherwise, feel free to post any questions in the comments.

Eighth Note Reading Final Exam
How’d you do? Be sure to comment below and let me know if there’s any way I can help!

Happy drumming!

Leave a comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that. Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked