Sustained Note Durations

Sustained note durations

Carl Sabatino
[email protected]
Whippany Park High School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:



High School




Digital Performer or Cakewalk, CPU with soundcard


30 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Basic rhythmic understanding of note values quarter note, half note, dotted half note and whole note.

NAfME Standards of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME Standards of 1994: Reading and notating music.

NAfME 2014: Creating


Computer hooked up to an external speaker. Computer screen projected to a smart board or large screen for larger class sizes.


Lesson designed to visually illustrate the performance for wind instrument players how long to hold out sustained notes (i.e. whole note ends on beat one of next measure). The only note lengths that are covered in this lesson are quarter notes, half notes, dotted half notes and whole notes.


Teacher will in advance input a simple melody or scales into a sequencer such as Cakewalk or Digital Performer. Be sure to include the various note values that are to be covered in this lesson plan (quarter notes, half notes, dotted half notes and whole notes) in the musical example.
Open up the melody in the graphic editor where a visual illustration of each note is represented. Turn on the metronome so a tempo reference can be established and play the example in a relatively slow tempo. Point out to students how long the various length notes sound for while each note is played by the sequencer. Finally have students play along with the example following the graphic editor example so they can hear more clearly when they should release the sustained notes.

Teacher could also demonstrate the wrong way by “nudging” the rhythm over by several ticks so they can hear the difference of a note being cut short in performance.


Students should have a solid grasp on the abstract concept of rhythm and holding out sustained notes. They should be able to perform these note lengths more accurately when they switch over to standard notation.

Follow Up:

Using the same concept subdivisions of the beat can be discussed. Dotted rhythms, eighth notes and sixteenth notes all can be covered using the graphic editor.

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