How to Read Music for Guitar - Beginners Class Part 1: Read and Play Notes on Strings 1, 2 and 3 | John Chamley | Skillshare

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How to Read Music for Guitar - Beginners Class Part 1: Read and Play Notes on Strings 1, 2 and 3

teacher avatar John Chamley, Guitar Lessons for Life!

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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

20 Lessons (40m)
    • 1. How To Read Music for Guitar Introduction

    • 2. Memorize the String Names

    • 3. Watch This One Minute Music Theory Lesson

    • 4. Learn the "Walking Fingers" Technique

    • 5. How to Count and Play Notes (Note Durations)

    • 6. Practice Keeping Time

    • 7. Discover the Best Way to Play The Frets

    • 8. Let's Play Reading Examples Together Ex.1

    • 9. Play Reading Ex. 2

    • 10. Play Reading Ex. 3

    • 11. Play Reading Ex. 4

    • 12. Play Reading Ex. 5

    • 13. Can You Figure Out the Difference?

    • 14. Learn the 2nd String Notes

    • 15. Play Reading Example 8

    • 16. Play Reading Example 9

    • 17. Three Minutes of Music Theory

    • 18. Play Some Beethoven

    • 19. New Notes on the 3rd String

    • 20. Let's Play a Round - Frere Jaque

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About This Class

In How to Read Music for Guitar - Beginner’s Class you will learn to read guitar sheet music and play the notes on guitar.  By following my easy string-by-string method you'll learn 2 or 3 notes at a time on each string. Once you master a string, then move on to the next.  With a little regular practice, you'll find yourself unconsciously knowing what to play when you see the notes. Just follow the method and have fun recognizing and playing the notes.

This is a proven method that I developed while teaching guitar for (can you believe it?) 20 years!  The FREE media content provided with the course is taken from my 3-book series  Guitar in Real Time.  With a little regular practice, you'll be able to experience the satisfaction of reading and playing music on guitar.

What  Exactly do You Learn?

  1. You learn all of the notes in what is called "1st position" on guitar.  That is the position where your fretting hand stays next to the "nut."  (If you don't know, the nut is the piece of bone or hard plastic on the head of the guitar that the strings run over.  The strings are suspended between the nut and the saddle on the main body.)
  2. In How to Read Music for Guitar Beginner's Course you learn to read and play notes on the 5-line staff using the treble clef.
  3. You also get to know the following terms and what they mean:
    1. time signatures,
    2. key signatures,
    3. note duration's
    4. rests. 


As a BONUS, you also receive fingerstyle guitar lessons included with the course. Follow these lessons to develop a solid fingerstyle technique.  Or, simply use any method of string picking that you choose.

Fun Project

In addition to learning to read, you also complete a fun class project where YOU get to write your own melody - AND play it.

Meet Your Teacher

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John Chamley

Guitar Lessons for Life!


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1. How To Read Music for Guitar Introduction: Welcome to how to read music for guitar. My name's John family and I'll be hosting this course. And this course is for you. If you are two types of people, you might be the kind of person who wants to learn guitar and read music at the same time. And you might also be a type of person who already has some experience, but you finally want learn how to read music. Either way I'm going to show you. Now if you are an absolute beginner, you will get some bonus lessons, lessons on how the holy guitar, and I'll show you some finger style technique. If you do have experience and you don't need those lessons, then just skip ahead and you will be able to learn as we go string by string. Learning either two or three notes at a time will get ample chance to practice the notes, reading their notes on each of the strings. And then as we learn more strings then would be combining using different strings and reading, reading notes across the different strings. This first course covers strings 123. And in a follow-up course, we'll be doing strings four through six. So the way this course works is that I'll show you the five-line staff and where the notes are on the staff. And then I'll also show you where those notes are on the guitar fretboard. Though by the end of this course, you'll be able to understand note durations, key signatures, time signatures, rests, and all of those things. So if you're ready to read music, Let's get started. 2. Memorize the String Names: Okay, so now let's get started. The first thing we need to do is to make sure that we understand what the note names our of all of the strings on the guitar before we start to identify those notes on the music step . So what I'd like to do first is memorize each one of the string names. If you don't know already and the strings are numbered from this one. Here is gonna be the first string. And then as we go in this direction, that was gonna be the six string. So going one through six, the string names are e be G de A and e commit those two memory because that will that will help you because when we start to play, the notes on the strings will be would be using each one of those notes that will be adding notes with the frightening hand. All right, now, one other thing that you do get some lessons with finger style for this course. But if you wish, you could just use a pick. What I suggest is, if you're new to playing, then just keep it simple. Just do a straight down stroke for now. Otherwise, follow the lessons and learn the finger style. You can do that, too. It's entirely up to you now. One of the tip I'd like to give you is in the interface. If you find that the videos a too fast, there is an option while you can slow it down toe half the speed and the nice thing about it is it doesn't change the pitch so that if you're listening to an E, you can you still hear that e? But it's going to be played at half the speed, and the other thing is that you really should get a Metro these days. It's very easy because you can just most people have a smartphone and you can download an app for your smartphone. So any any kind of Metrodome, you just need a simple click and to be able to control your time so that you can practice playing in time. All right, so now that we got those basics out the way, let's get to the next video and we start to take a look at the music staff 3. Watch This One Minute Music Theory Lesson: Ah, welcome to the one minute music. Clearly lesson. We use the letters a through G to represent notes in the United States and many parts of the world. They're written on what's called a staff or a stave. This staff has five lines on it. And to show the range of notes that are on this staff, we put what's called a clef for guitar. We use a treble clef. It's also called the G Cliff, and there's a reason that it circles around this line right here. That line right there represents the note G. So if I wrote a note like that on there, that's the note. G. Now the seven letters which one? She get through a B C D E f g. The notes start against of a note after G will be in a that would be in a as you go this direction. The picture the notes gets higher. So here the notes. So the note that we played already we've already played the East ring is actually this one right here. That's it. 4. Learn the "Walking Fingers" Technique: way going to be doing is training both the right and the left hand. The right hand is the one that we associate with finger style will be teaching all of the things to become independent will start with two fingers and then we'll add the thumb and three fingers so the first part will be taken to look at something that we call walking fingers. So on guitar, it goes like this. We're going to take this walking fingers and use the first string, and we're gonna take the thumb and the thumb can rest on the six string. I'm gonna start here with the index finger. 1234 Now, know this one thing Here is a technique that I'm using for this, which is called rest Stroke and restaurant means that when you play a stay string impressing this string down as they press it, I let that finger then rest on the adjacent string, the string next to it while it's resting There, I let the other finger contact the string that's going to be played next as I play that string like this finger up on that puts the index finger in a good position to play the string again. So we're using the second string in this case to stabilize fingers. So let's see if he can do that. Ready one to three four 123123 Now that we got started, play some notes. Let's take a look in music notation how it looks coming up in the next list way. 5. How to Count and Play Notes (Note Durations): so very shortly. What we're going to do is try playing different note durations using the No. E and the walking fingers that we've already tried. Now let me explain how we write different note durations, the length of time that we hold a note in music. The break up the line into what's called measures or bars. And they're represented here by the bar lines. So between the bar lines is one measure or one bar, and what's inside of each bar is determined by what we put here. The beginning of the piece of music, the most common one that you see anywhere is is 44 and those two numbers. The top one represents the number of counts in that measure, and the bottom one represents the type of no. In this case, the four means it's 1/4 note. Before I explain what 1/4 no is, let me explain what a whole notice. So ah, whole note, you write like this. The next smaller unit is 1/2 note. Now, 1/2 note is like this, but it's got a stem, so I could put too to those in there, and that's gonna be the same length of time as one of those. So that's 1/2 note. 1/4 No is like this. What we do is we Do we fill this in? So they're gonna before these. Really? So that's 4/4 notes. Now there is one other type of note that we're gonna be looking at Their there are more, but there's one more that we're gonna use, which is going to be an eighth note. So in eighth, note is represented like this. So that's eighth notes. Let me just show you how how I will play this on guitar. 12341234123412341 and two and three and four Way. Need to be ableto look at these notes and recognize how long we play and when to play the next note. So that's gonna take a little practice, but it's it's really not that hard. So that's coming up. Next, we're going to get some practice using the walking fingers and reading note durations 6. Practice Keeping Time: way. Okay, so here we are finally going to go through the keeping time exercises. I'm here in in the practice area, and I wanna show you how I go about things. I like to use the Metrodome if I'm doing something that I need to be able to do in time. Makes makes a lot of sense Now. Metrodome. You can get APS on your phone these days. I used my trusty old Metrodome. It's nice to just keep around. I could just pick it up any time. This is a low speed of 35 I think it goes up to 50. If I want to go slow a speed of 30 then you just double that to 60. And then what you can do is play every two clicks. So this is one second, right? So I go like this like that. Now, tip here is when you're using the Metrodome, try to really nail it on the click. This is going to make your playing much more precise on these exercises. Exercise one. The top line is all whole notes, so we're going to count four quicks teach whole look. So gonna count in with account of four and one to three full. 123 12 three for next line is going to be half notes. So 12 three full were into exercise to know, looking at the next line. Now 12 three. That's a whole note. And next 1/2 note. 234 then the whole it. 12 three four and then two more half notes to 34 Exercise for 12 34 and they go. 4/4 notes. Two more half notes. 4/4 notes. Exercise 5 to 3. A few more. 234 Full note to three for 4/4 notes. Exercise 6 to 3 four now half note to Corneau's 2/4 notes on 1/2 note. Exercise. 70 I think I got that wrong Size 81234 and 123 and 412 on 34 months and 23 Okay, so you get the idea. Once you've got that down, then you'd be in much better shape to do the exercises coming up where we're going to start to use the threats and play different notes, the less you have to think about this hand and on the length of the notes, the easier is to concentrate on doing something new with the left hand. Okay, so see you in the next upcoming lecture. 7. Discover the Best Way to Play The Frets: So far you've been playing one string. Now what we're gonna do is play some different notes on the first string. We're going to be taken the left hand and playing the frets. And the best way is in the most natural way possible. If your step back or if you set on some kind of a couch or something and the guitar neck is way over here, you're not gonna be able to reach it. It's good to decide that. Okay, I'm gonna play this guitar and I'm going to be in commander this instrument. So you want to put yourself in the best position to do that? If you could just lift up your arm and the neck is right there, that's the best position. So So it's good toe angle the neck of the guitar so that it's right under your fingers. Now your fingers want to be curled around and you want to be pressing on on the strings. So the thing is, stand up fairly straight. We number the fingers 1234 And these threats are also numbered from this one right here. 1234 So we're going to be playing in what's called first position. First position means that your first finger is lined up with the first threat. So to play note using the frets, position your finger right behind the fret so that when you press on the string, drink is nice and firm up against that threat, So there's gonna vibrate. Now between that fret and the saddle over here, the three notes that we're gonna be playing the 1st 1 you know already is the E. That's the open string, and the second note is called F. And that's on the first Fred. So we won't take the first finger, place it right behind the threat and squeeze down the string against the threat so that it's nice and firm. But don't press too hard that you're gonna hurt yourself and have to thumb around the back is good to try and keep the thumb around the back rather than over here. Or do something kind of awkward like this. You don't want to have a a curving, you know from the back of your hand to your forum. You wanna have that fairly straight. You're sitting in a good position like this so that you can hold that string down and you get a nice clear sound. The third fret. We're going to use the third finger. 123 and place it behind. Friend number 3123 Right there. Now what happens if you don't place that being close to the fret is when you get away from it, you find you might get these kind of nasty sounds, So you want to try and avoid that play nice and close to the fret. And also the opposite is true. If you get too far in the opposite direction, it like your finger starts to, uh, go over the top of the fret. You find that you're going to damp the string, and the sound won't come out another Think to think about two. When you play the notes, you have to build a press down against the French. But you also need toe keep it held down. So once you press it down wherever you go to keep that finger in place. So the three notes that we're gonna play R E f and G on the first string. And this Busan there is a number the side of each one of those notes is a zero for the A one for the F and A three for the G. Those referred to the fingers, so zero means open string. One means first finger. Three means third finger. Okay, says the plane. E eyes the open string. Play the F eyes, the first fret, and to play the G is the third frame. Before we start into these examples, I'd like you to just just get used to play in those notes. One other thing to think about is this good. If you can get in the habit of keeping your fingers close to the Francis possible, all right, so practice those things and then we'll come back and we'll take a look at playing some of these examples. 8. Let's Play Reading Examples Together Ex.1: so I'm going to go through Example one on going to use the Metrodome now. The best thing is that you can work this up to 60 beats per minute. You may want to start a lot slower than that just to get used to changing the notes. Here's example. One. This is 60 beats per minute. So is one second that would account for and then stopped. 12343 Now the difficult part of this one is on the fourth measure that the last measure on the on that line don't get too worried. That is, taking your time to get your fingers in place for those things. Slow this down. You can play this every two clicks or every three clicks. You can use 60 beats per minute. Get your own Metrodome. Don't just rely on on the videos to play along with after you've done the example. One. In the next video, we'll do example to see you, sir. 9. Play Reading Ex. 2: away. Right? So now we're gonna do example to 60 beats per minute. Here we go. On this, this is how it should go. So again, I'm going to get my hand in place, ready to play those notes. And here we go after for one to three. Four look. So that's example. 10. Play Reading Ex. 3: all right, so he would go with example three, 60 beats per minute and this is how it goes. Ready one to three floor. That's example Creek. 11. Play Reading Ex. 4: okay, No examples for Has something new. You noticed that there were 2/4 notes. And then there's this kind of a squiggle thing that's actually 1/4. No rest. So what you do on that one is you don't play for the duration of 1/4 note, so you're going to count one to rest for. The second measure also has as a rest on on the third beat and the third measure and also on the fourth measure, you have a rest on the fourth beat. Okay, so here's how it goes. Example for ready one to 34 that's example for. 12. Play Reading Ex. 5: on the last example. You may have noticed that I actually stopped the note when I got to the court. The quarter note rest in this example. Five. Since you have half notes, you want to be aware that you want to let that half note last up to the next. The next note. So this is example five. And it goes like this. 123 So that's example five. 13. Can You Figure Out the Difference?: What I'm gonna do right now is show you two different ways to play exactly the same thing. See if he can look at my right hand to finger technique and figure out what I'm doing. This different. The difference is we can call one staccato. The other one llegado staccato technique uses the the two fingers whereby you press down with one finger immediately after you let the other finger lay on top of the string to stop the note. And this is a common thing, actually, when somebody starts to play this two finger technique that they automatically do that. But most of the time we want to play llegado because we want the notes to ring and play the notes as written. If, like, if 1/4 note less less for Corden knows, we, we want the note toe last for its full value. Staccato is kind of a special technique that we only apply sometimes. If you hear a singer, for example, they don't they don't usually sing in in Staccato, they they sing and connect all the notes together. So that's when we playing the melody. Usually we're trying to emulate how a singer would would play that would sing that melody. So that's the kind of sound that we're aiming for. So try, try and use that technique with with your plane of two fingers. 14. Learn the 2nd String Notes: Okay, So welcome back. I'm just going to remind you what the notes on the first string would you remember? The open string waas e The first fret was if and the third for it was G. So now the second string be The note for that is going to be on the middle line right here , and we can see that I'm going to click on that. So that's B and the notes after it are going to be what we go through the alphabet, we're going to go be going to go see and then D All right, so next note is C so C is going to be right there in that space, and then the note D is going to be right there on that line. Let's say we continue up to this next space. Remember that notice? Well, that note is is e right? So if I If I click on this string with you so e the next night will be next note. Would G. So that's following the alphabet, right? B, C, d e f and G next step. What I'm gonna do is I'm I'm gonna type out the notes of example six and we don't like you to do is to call those notes out before I do to do that. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take this gadget away so you can't see it, so I'm going to click on it and then let's let's see if you can get this. So here we go. So the first note is be, uh another B Uh, this note is d ah, another d her. That's a no b. It's another note. Be again de ah di this one, which is C No, the sea. That's D That's another D. Here we go through this note. We're going on to the next line now. OK, so that's us. That's a C. There's another. See, Then the final note is going to be, Ah di, that I'm gonna change that to 1/2 note. Okay, so this is example six. So example six. In the book. If I play this, it goes like this. Okay, so that's example. Six. Then in the next video, practice that one a little bit and then I'll show you. Example seven 15. Play Reading Example 8: in this example. You have to be careful of the rests. The half no gets two counts and the rest gets one. So it's gonna be one to rest for like that. Ah ah ah! Uh, Next example nine. 16. Play Reading Example 9: all right. Example. Nine. You should be getting really good at these right now. See if you can do this one without having to look at your left hand. If you keep your fingers in one position without moving your hand, it should be possible. Give it a try. Way coming up next. Both strings one and two together. 17. Three Minutes of Music Theory: s so far. We've looked at whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes. So we know that in 44 time ah, whole notice counted gets four counts and half note gets two counts and the quarter note gets one count and then the eighth notes get half account. So we count eighth notes one and to N three and four end. Now, if you want to have three counts, then there's something we can do with the half note. We can make that longer by adding a dot. What happens when you add a doctor something it increases. Its length is duration by half of its value, so it's already too. Then it becomes three. So since I added a doctor to that note in this measure, that means that there's not enough space to add this other half. No, over here. So I'm going to change that note into 1/4 note. And then the effect of this is that when when we play this, you're going to hear 1234 So let me play that. Ah, that's in the case of adding adopt to 1/2 note. So when we added docked to 1/4 note. Then the same thing happens. It 1/4 note is a value of one. So then it becomes 1.5 when you add adopt to it. So that would mean in this measure, we don't have enough space for that. So I'm going to change that one. That second note right there into an eighth note. So then that would that would then add a little Syncopation. What's called Syncopation to this measure. Now, the way you account, this is similar to the way you count eighth notes. Over here, you count one and two and three and four end. So what you can do here is you can count one and two and 34 or if you can. If you can think this way, you can count 12 and 34 So let me just play that so he can hear that one. Ah, all right. So the reason I brought this up is because when we play oh to joy, then they're going to be some dotted notes in there. And I wanted to explain this so that you can understand it and be able to play it. That's coming up next 18. Play Some Beethoven: um OK, so he would go with Ode to Joy. 19. New Notes on the 3rd String: what we're gonna take a look at in this video at the notes on the third string. So I'm going to show you on the diagram here. If you remember the string names we got E B G D A and E. That's the strings from 1 to 6. And the third string is called G So G right there that no is represented on the second line from the bottom on the staff, and the A is going to be right above it in the space. So a in this case is going to be on the second fret. So this is different from their notes. We learned on the other strings. So what I'll do now is output The other notes in there for reference. We got B and second string got be See on the first fret d on the third fret. We got the first string e way we got f on the first fret and G on the third fret Now, if I play this back, take a listen. So what you notice there is that that scale doesn't sound like the kind of major scale that we're used to hearing, And the reason is because there's one note that's not correct. And that's this note right here, which is the F. That note should actually be an F shop for the key of G. So f sharp is between F and G on the fretboard. So instead of the F, we could, if we played an F sharp right there, that would actually have a full scale. So take a listen and you can watch it being played on the fretboard, right? Right above, I think. Great. So you've actually learned three notes. You've learned the open String G, which is on the second line from the bottom on the staff. And then you've learned that A, which is on the second fret on the third string, and that's on the second space from the bottom. And then you've also learned the F sharp, which is on the second fret of the first string. Now, unless that sharp is there, you should still play F. And if there's an F in any of the upcoming videos, then you play that on the first fret unless it shows a shop. So now that we've got some notes, let's play some tunes 20. Let's Play a Round - Frere Jaque: 123