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How to Play Grace Notes

Grace notes are a musical ornament used by composers in written music. They are written in smaller print and attached by a slur to a note of regular size and longer musical value. Grace notes are played quickly and used to "dress up" the note to which they are attached.

Play a piece of music, paying close attention to the time signature. Time signatures indicate how many beats there are to a measure and what note gets the beat.

Look for notes that are printed much smaller than the rest of the notes in the piece and attached to another full-sized note by a slur. The smaller notes, or grace notes, may also have a slash through the stem of the note.

Play the grace note either on or slightly before the beat. Grace notes are not written into the time signature and must be played so that the grace note quickly leads into the larger note to which it is attached. In some cases, the grace note is supposed to take time away from the larger note, but never changes the timing of the measure.

Continue playing the rest of the notes in the measure in normal time.


Acciaccatura grace notes are played very quickly so as not to take too much time away from the note to which it is attached. Appoggiatura grace notes are played a bit longer, and take more time away from the attached note. The composer and time of the written music indicate which type of grace note is implied by the notation.

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