Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Why many guitar players don't learn to read traditional music notation

The argument against "reading" goes like this:
"Guitar players have to know how to improvise, to go with the flow, and be creative. Trying to analyse and write down the complicated combination of notes most guitar players play is a waste of time and effort. Just learn the chords, memorize typical chord progressions (the usual way chords go together), learn how to strum in different tempos, and go from there."
This argument describes the way most beginners learn the guitar: they learn chords and simple strum patterns, and don't really have to know what notes they are playing. It makes a lot of sense.
But it can also be limiting for beginners. You will probably see the guitar as a chording machine.
But it can be so much more!
Perhaps more important, you will have to rely completely on memory for anything other than bare bones chording.
For example, let's say your teacher, band leader, or fellow band member asks you to play a bit of melody. Imagine your group is playing the Christmas song "Joy to the World" and they want you to take the lead for one verse.
Yes, you can wing it, play "by ear", figure it out and memorize it, and  chances are you will remember it. But wouldn't it be good to have some help... "Oh yeah, I see I play a G there and it ends E-D-C."
...to be continued.
There'a an easy way to learn how to read traditional notation. Start with basic scales and simple songs for the guitar. Before you know it, you'll have a pretty good idea of what you're doing.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Ode to Joy - a good candidate for your first guitar song

Beethoven - Ode to Joy
I always seem to start with Ode to Joy with my guitar students. It's an easy song that everybody knows.

Playing the melody, like in this new guitar player version familiarizes you with note positions, and gives you an example of the relationship between strings

Where Should You Start When Learning the Guitar

It's pretty obvious that there are at least two ways you can go. You can sign up for private or group lessons with a guitar instructor, or you can basically "teach yourself" with the aid of online resources.

Professional instruction is quite expensive, and probably won't yield results for a long time. So you should expect to be taking lessons for at least a few months. At $20-$30 for a half hour weekly lesson, that means your commitment will probably be at least $200, and likely much more.

Using online resources can be much less expensive, and depending on your personal motivation, can be more effective.

It really depends on the resources you use. Most online guitar courses focus on learning the basic 9 or 12 chords and learning how to play along with well known songs.

The Guitar Professor recommends you learn to play some simple melodies, before you start playing chords. That probably means you should learn a bit of music theory, and feel comfortable reading traditional musical notation.

This is the approach you will find at PracticeTracks.org. This site features play along songs that play right in your browser. You can play melody notes or chord along with the songs. There are lots of scales, exercises and simple songs for guitar beginners.

Some Advice Regarding Choosing a Starter Guitar

It is important to choose the right guitar to start off with. This is especially true for children, but also applies to adults.

You don't have to choose the guitar you expect to have five years from now. Your objective should be to get a guitar that is easy to play, not too expensive, and sounds half decent.

Here is some more advice about Choosing a Starter Guitar

Getting Started Learning the Guitar

The guitar is a beautiful, fun instrument. But it is also fairly difficult as musical instruments go. And so many new guitar players like you get discouraged because progress can be slow.
That's not going to be you... right?! 
Because you're going to avoid some of the common mistakes new guitar players often make.
What are those mistakes?
You'll find some of them listed here - Mistakes Beginning Guitar Players Should Avoid