By now you have developed some good habits in picking and scale technique. We can now begin the process of learning how to read music. I will be introducing some new rhythmic figures and other notation not covered in the core levels from time to time. One good thing about learning how to read music is the opportunity to reinforce your rhythmic and note finding skills by seeing the notation symbols on the page as you hear them.
These are terms and definitions associated with the musical staff not yet covered in the prerequisite Level 001 to Level 020. I will be adding terms and definitions as we progress. For now, this is all you need to know.
The musical staff – Lines and spaces which represent the notes of the musical alphabet (Level 009). Notes are identified by their location on the musical staff.
The G clef – Also called the treble clef, designates the location of the G note on the musical staff. The most common location of the G clef is centered over the second line of the musical staff. This designated the second line as a G note which acts as a point of reference for the other lines and spaces. Changing the location of the G clef will change the point of reference for all the notes on the musical staff.
The time signature – Located next to the G clef, divides time into counts and calibrates note values. We think of this as rhythm (eg. 4/4 or 3/4). Visit Level 018 for more information about the time signature.
The measure – A container of counts. Without the measure one would not know when to begin or end the count. A measure is the space between vertical lines on the musical staff. The time signature affects how many counts a measure can contain. For example, in 3/4 time signature the measure will contain three counts. In 4/4 time signature the measure will contain four counts. The top number affects the number of counts each measure will contain. Visit Level 018 for more information about the measure.
Lines – On the G clef the lines of the musical staff represent the notes E G B D F (from bottom to top)
Spaces – On the G clef the spaces of the musical staff represent the notes F A C E (from bottom to top).
Ascending notes on the musical staff – On the G clef the lines and spaces starting on the first line E represent the notes E F G A B C D E F. This is the musical alphabet (Level 009) starting on E.
1) The term “first position” means the first four frets on the guitar. We will be learning how to read the notes on the first four frets of the 1E string.
2) Begin each exercise with a hold technique covered on Level 005. This positions each finger over their assigned frets. Doing this allows you to keep your eyes on the music and makes sight reading much easier. It’s like positioning your fingers over the home row keys in typing.
3) Use alternate picking (down and up strokes). If you are using classical guitar technique (free or rest strokes), make sure that you alternate the index and middle fingers.
4) Count the rhythm on the page with your voice while tapping the counts with your pencil. Reading rhythm while learning notes is difficult so it’s best to separate the two and develop your counting skills first.
5) Say the notes on the page without the guitar. Focus on note identification only.
6) Say the notes on the page in rhythm without the guitar. This allows you to practice note identification in rhythm. Tap your pencil on the page over the proper count while saying the note names.
Note: If the video is too fast, work alone by tapping your foot and saying the note names at a comfortable tempo. Speed is not important, good articulation of the note name is. This will help you to memorize the notes much faster. Using the metronome allows you to hear me work in perfect rhythm. You can do this by taping your foot to your own beat.
7) Say and play the notes at the same time with the guitar. Focus on note identification with the guitar. Don’t worry so much about rhythm until you can read the notes.<
8) Count and play the notes at the same time. Focus on counting while playing the guitar.
9) Train your eyes to look ahead of the note you are playing. In time you will learn to see several notes ahead while scanning the page. Expert sight readers can see several measures ahead. You are already using this skill set as you read this sentence. Notice how you can sound out the words without focusing on every letter. That’s because you have learned how to scan the page before sounding out each word.
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