Reading Music (Guitar Lesson)

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Matt Brown

Reading Music

Learn how to identify notes, the key signature, and the staff. Implement your reading skills by playing a few simple tunes.

Taught by Matt Brown in Reading Music and Rhythm seriesLength: 43:32Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (06:32) Lesson Overview and the Importance of Reading Music Matt begins Lesson 2 with a quick recap of why learning to read music is so important. Many guitarists neglect this area of study because they think it is too difficult or a waste of time. Both of these statements couldn’t be farther from the truth. On the contrary, working on your reading skills is one of the best uses of your practice time. Regardless of what genre(s) you play, reading music should become a daily part of your practice regimen.

Typically, there are two reasons primary reasons why guitarists find reading music "too difficult." Usually, this argument is simply a product of laziness. Many beginners say, "I can read tablature, so what’s the point?" When you play something from tablature, you are missing half of the equation. Without reading skills, you will not be able to play and interpret a written score properly (whether written in tablature, notation, or both). Second, many beginners find reading difficult, because he or she hasn't received the proper instruction. In this lesson series, Matt Brown will progress through material at a slow, steady pace. This will ensure that no important details are left out. Hopefully, this approach will eliminate any confusion. However, if you do have a question regarding anything presented in these lessons, feel free to email Matt directly on the JamPlay site.

NO Tablature Allowed!

In the Reading Music and Rhythm Series, tablature will not be provided. Diagrams of scales are the only exception. Tablature will be used in this context to present note names / locations and similar material. If you have no experience reading music, don't be scared! You won't even miss the tablature after a few lessons.
Chapter 2: (09:21) Key Signatures, the Staff, and Identifying Notes Clef Signs
The first thing you see whenever you begin a notated piece of music is the clef sign. As guitarists, the vast majority of music that we play is written in bass clef. Some music arranged for baritone or 7 string guitar is occasionally written in bass clef. However, this is quite rare.

Treble clef is also referred to as "G" clef. This is because the loop at the bottom of the clef symbol indicates where the note "G" occurs on the staff. In this case, the note G is written on the line that is second from the bottom.

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" tab for a listing of all common clef symbols.

Key Signature
The key signature follows the clef sign. This indicates the key of the piece. Each key has a specific number of sharps or flats written in the key signature (never a combination of both). A sharp or flat in the key signature indicates that a note written on this line or space should be played as a sharp or flat note throughout the course of the entire piece. A natural sign cancels out a sharp or flat, thus making the note a natural note. It also cancels out an accidental that occurred earlier in the measure. "Accidental" is simply a fancy musical term used to indicate a sharp or a flat. Accidentals will be discussed in greater detail in future lessons.

Matt begins this lesson series with music written in the key of C major. This is the easiest key signature to read, because it contains no sharps or flats.

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" section for a listing of common musical symbols.

Time Signature
The time or meter signature indicates how many beats are in a measure and which note value is counted as the beat. This lesson deals solely with music in 4/4 or "common time." Sometimes a capital letter "C" is used to indicate this time signature.

Time signatures are explained in detail in Lesson 3.

Names of Lines and Spaces
The musical staff features five lines. This may be a little confusing at first if you are used to reading tablature, which has six lines. Notes are either written on a line on the staff or in the space between two lines. The following notes are written on the lines from bottom to top: E, G, B, D, and F. "Every good boy does fine" should help you remember these note locations. The following notes are written on the spaces from bottom to top: F, A, C, and E. Just remember the anagram "FACE."

Ledger Lines
Notes above or below the staff are written on or between small lines called "ledger lines." So where are all of these notes on the guitar? This series starts with reading notes that are located closest to the nut. The only notes in this area that are written above and below the staff are notes on the D, A, and low E strings. The note "G" on the high E string is written above the "F" line. Eventually, as this series progresses, you will learn how to read music across the entire fretboard.

Note: For fretboard locations corresponding to every note in "open" position, check out the "Supplemental Content" section.

Also, be sure to check out Jim Deeming's Phase 1 lesson pertaining to the open C major scale.
Chapter 3: (11:52) “This Old Man“ Melody and Exercise ALWAYS follow these important steps whenever you begin a new piece of music:
1. Learn the title and composer.
2. Look at the key signature to determine the key and what is sharp/flat. "This Old Man" is in the key of C major since there are no sharps or flats.
3. Note the time signature
4. Note the tempo and style. None is listed for this piece, so the style and tempo are left up to the performer's discretion.
5. Note the form of the piece and dynamics. (These two areas will be discussed in detail in future lessons.)
6. Learn the lyrics (if there are any).
Knowing the lyrics to a song will always help you learn how to play it faster. It will also help immensely with phrasing, interpretation, and musicality issues.

Practicing Tips
Always play in time even when you are first learning the melody. Don't simply play through the melody out of time while you hunt for the note locations. Always play with a metronome. If you're a beginner, start this tune at 60 beats per minute or even slower. Always make sure that you are ready and focused before you begin the piece! Always get a firm feel of the tempo and beginning rhythms before you begin. Think of where your fingers will need to go for the first phrase and how the first phrase should sound. Strive for clarity and musicality.

Knowing the lyrics will tell you where the phrases are. If you were speaking or singing the melody, where would you take a breath? The exact same concept should be applied to playing the melody on guitar. Play the melody as it would be sung. You must differentiate where a phrase ends and begins. However, this must be done with great subtlety and care. Listen very carefully to how Matt phrases the melody. These subtle differences make a huge impact on the overall quality of the performance.
Chapter 4: (07:53) Angels We Have Heard on High Exercise Key of F Major Once again, follow the steps listed in the previous scene before you dive into this piece. Write out the lyrics and separate them into distinct phrases. This particular song has one flat in the key signature. This flat is written on the "B" line. This means that you will always play notes written on this line as Bb instead of B natural. The corresponding Bb note on the guitar is found at the third fret of the G string.

Repeat Signs

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" tab for an image of a repeat sign.

"Angels We Have Heard on High" features a repeat sign in bar 4. Typically when a section is to be repeated, you will see a beginning and ending repeat sign. The beginning repeat sign occurs at the beginning of a measure (on the left side). An ending or "closed" repeat sign always occurs at the end of a measure (on the right side). Notice that this piece does not have a beginning repeat sign. When this occurs, it is assumed that you are to repeat back to the beginning of the piece. When a repeat sign occurs, repeat the selected section only twice unless otherwise indicated. For example, you may see something like "x3" or "play four times."

The Dot
A dot occurs after some notes written in this piece. Essentially, a dot adds half the value to the written value of a note. For example, if you see a dotted quarter note, this means that this note receives the value of a quarter note plus the value of an eighth note or 1 and 1/2 beats. Check out some more examples:

Dotted Half=one half note + one quarter note
Dotted Eighth=one eighth + one sixteenth
Chapter 5: (07:53) Angels Exercise Continued In this scene, Matt walks you through the remaining phrases in the melody. He also performs the piece to provide you with some phrasing and musicality examples. Simply listen very carefully the first several times you watch this demonstration. Then, watch Matt for any technical fingering assistance you may need. After you feel like you have mastered the melody, compare your version to Matt's and make any necessary adjustments. When you feel that you are ready, try playing the melody along with him.

A "ritardando" may be applied to the end of this piece. Ritardando is an Italian word that means "gradually slow down." Often, this occurs at the end of a section or at the very end of a piece of music. If the composer specifically wants a ritardando played, he or she will write it in the score. Sometimes a performer will add it at will if he/she finds it necessary. Matt begins a ritardando in the second to last measure. Listen to him closely to get a good idea of how to perform one.

Note: Ritardando is frequently abbreviated as rit. or ritard.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

jjod4jjod4 replied

the retarded thing did not work.......................

tacittacit replied

Each fret represents a semitone change of the musical note. So, starting with the E string, E-open, F-1st fret, F#-2nd fret, G-3rd fret, G# -4th fret, A -5th fret, A# -6th fret, B -7th fret, C -8th fret, C# -9th fret, D - 10th fret, D# -11th fret, E -12th fret. The above pattern applies to all the guitar strings.

richie2017richie2017 replied

The course has a lot of excellent content. I follow reasonably easy but I can imagine it can get confusing for someone who is just starting from scratch n reading music such as the names of the notes and the different areas they can be played on the fretboard. Its not so easy to follow along with the notes played in the videos. Some explanation would be helpful in that area. With that said it is clear these are older lessons and should probably be updated soon?

Timotheus53Timotheus53 replied

This guy has got to be THE most boring human on the planet!!! He may know it but he is Not a teacher!! Give me a break!!

the hammers 31the hammers 31 replied

Nice coarse. On the c scales practice it has the right note but the wrong letter above it. Has A above the C note.

lmeerveldlmeerveld replied

how do you make a high flat B? (Angels we have heard on high)

rbrannonrbrannon replied

I thought we were going to learn to read music. We are not shown the music. Only the teacher reading his sheet and his guitar for "This old man" ??

GaertnerGaertner replied

Enter your comment here.

dshykoradshykora replied

why not have visuals here?

AdelsonplusAdelsonplus replied

Oh, gosh, you talk too much!

StretchrStretchr replied

Can't seem to be able to print the supplementals. At least in Firefox 31.0 choosing which ones to print by ticking the box only prints the first one. Also, dragging the .jpg to the desktop doesn't work in Windows 8.1

pete49pete49 replied

Thanks Matt! Good work I find your lesson interesting. My guitar is the same model as yours. Can you tell me which kind of strings you are using, also the gage of the strings and the mark of the company if possible...Thanks ahead!

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hey Pete! Glad you liked the lesson! I actually sold that guitar about a year ago and got a Guild acoustic. It was definitely a workhorse when I had it. Maybe it was just my guitar, but I found that I wasn't able to put anything bigger than 10 guage strings on the guitar without damaging the neck. With most acoustic guitars, you should be able to use at least 12 gauge strings. On my Guild, I always use the Martin M540s (12 gauge). I'd say I'm of average size and have averaged size hands for an adult...That's what I'd recommend if your guitar can handle it. If it can't, I'd set it up with the M530's (10 guage in the green package). Maybe talk to a repair person if you don't know how to properly set up an acoustic yourself.

haddershadders replied

Matt. There have been a lot of negative comments here, but I think this is a good lesson. You have to put effort into everything worthwhile. I'm really looking forward to the challenge of learning to sight-read without tab.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Thanks! Glad you found it helpful. As far as the negative comments go, I find them all to be constructive and helpful. I don't consider them negative, just helpful feedback. It's difficult to teach lessons in a video format without a student in front of you. Sometimes it's tough to anticipate what questions people might have or if my explanations are clear enough. You live, you learn I guess. Good luck with reading in standard notation! Let me know if you ever have questions.

AbaratAbarat replied

Is there an updated version of this video that includes diagrams, or visual material in the video? I am completey new to Music Theory, and feel this video isn't a very good introduction to it.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hi! All of the signs, symbols, etc. discussed in the video can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

apjamplayapjamplay replied

Also bit disappointing that in terms of a structured linear learning guide to reading music, lesson 2 starts referring to another tutors lesson that you seemingly need to go to to understand something that's talked about but left out? Very messy way of trying to do things IMO.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Thanks for the constructive feedback! It's very helpful. These lessons are very old at this point. I like to think that we've collectively learned a thing or two as a company since we made this lessons. I'll re-visit this lesson and add any missing graphics to the supplemental content section.

apjamplayapjamplay replied

Like the look of this series but think I may have to try another first so I can get a few things into my head, mainly because of the lack of 'in-video' graphics or pop-ups which would show easily the different things you are talking about, rather than descriptions that are VERY hard to visualise for beginners. The supplemental material does not cover everything that you try to describe.

cobramancobraman replied

In this lesson I didn't understand where to play these notes on the neck. The supplemental information didn't indicate that either.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hi! For the first several lessons in this series, everything is played in first position. So, basically just play all of the notes as close to the nut (as low on the fretboard) as you possibly can.

ncs818ncs818 replied

This video isnt working for me

mattbrownmattbrown replied

It should be working now...Maybe empty your brower's cache and restart your browser..It's under the "File" tab or the name of the program probably...Let me know if you're still having problems. Thanks! Matt

bcgaraybcgaray replied

Nice lesson Matt. I have played for a while but never learned to read music. So thanks for getting me started. Could you please list the books with the names of the authors. I was able to get one but not the others. Thanks look forward to the next lesson.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Glad you're taking the plunge! It's definitely worth it! Here's the book list: -Progressive Guitar Method Book 1 by Gary Turner and Brenton White -A Modern Method for Guitar books 1, 2, and 3 by William G. Leavitt -Classical Studies for Pick-Style Guitar by William Leavitt -Melodic Rhythms for Guitar by William Leavitt -Approaching the Guitar by Gene Bertoncini -The Fingerboard Workbook by Barry Galbraith -Daily Exercises in the Melodic and Harmonic Minor Modes by Barry Galbraith -Guitar Comping with Bass Lines in Treble Clef by Barry Galbraith -Jazz Conception by Jim Snidero -100 Graded Classical Guitar Studies by Fredrick Noad -Charlie Parker Omnibook -The Library of Guitar Classics -The New Real Book by Sher Music

bpye1925bpye1925 replied

Not trying to be up tight, but your comment about special needs people is a bit off putting. Surly and educated person as yourself could find a better way to explain the symbol. Otherwise good lesson.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Sorry! Didn't mean to offend anyone. I've never been the most p.c. individual, especially not five or six years ago.

Sandy GSandy G replied

The repeat signs are missing from Angels We Have Heard On High

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Thanks for the comment! I'll make sure that is fixed today.

rbradyrbrady replied

On putting the music onto paper: why do measures have such different amounts of white space? For example, in "Angles We Have Heard on High", the first line has five measures, and the third line only has three. Thanks for this series!

mattbrownmattbrown replied

It shouldn't be like that actually. There must have been some sort of formatting error. When notating any type of music, you should break up the lines by phrases whenever possible. So, all of the lines should have 4 bars except for the last one. It should have 3. I'll get this fixed asap!

rbradyrbrady replied

Ah, thanks!

mattbrownmattbrown replied

No prob! "Angels..." is fixed now. Looks like the other song needs to be fixed up too though.

erbins14erbins14 replied

wait never mind i get it.

erbins14erbins14 replied

dude about all those symbols you talk about and how they are in the supplemental contents, they r there but i have no clue which is which...... :(

1s22s22p61s22s22p6 replied

Hey wonder if you can explain how you know from the piece of music what key it is in and also where a bouts on the guitar you play the notes, sorry if that's a stupid question but I'm new to the whole reading music thing, cheers

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hi! The key signature (the sharps or flats listed after the treble clef) indicates what key a song is in. You have to be careful though "relative" major and minor keys use the same key signature. For example, the key of C major uses the same key signature as the key of A minor (no sharps or flats in the key signature). The same is true of G major and E minor (1 sharp in the key signature. If you take a look at what is called the "Circle of Fifths," all of this information is listed out. Usually the final chord of a song will tell you what key the song is in. For example, if there is 1 sharp in the key signature, and the song ends on an Em chord, you can pretty safely assume that the song is in Em rather than G major. Also, look to see whether the chords and melody tend to gravitate towards E minor vs. G major. As far as reading notes are concerned, the guitar can be a difficult instrument since you can play the exact same note in multiple locations on the fretboard. Where to play a specific C note is left to the discretion of the performer unless other instructions are given. Sometimes, a number with a circle around it might be listed next to a note. This indicates the string that a specific note should be played on. If the number is not written in a circle, it is a left hand fingering indication. In this particular lesson series, I start off by playing everything in first position. So, your options are limited at this point. Every note will be played as close to the nut as possible until later lessons in the series.

scawa1952scawa1952 replied

I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but when I download the supplimental material as a PDF, the right side of the document is cut off. I was hoping to practice this stuff off line.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

I would try opening up the images in supplemental content. Then, just click on the image and drag it to your desktop. That will allow you to open up a jpg file with a program like Preview or whatever the Windows equivalent is...Paint, Picture Viewer, etc.

barryrbarryr replied

That is correct. Just drag it to the desktop and the resulting file is easily opened

adjohns3adjohns3 replied

Need some can talk about it all day but show what you are talking about...please! Seems you are not ever going to get around to was SIX minutes into second lesson before you ever hit a note on guitar...hurry we are anxious to learn something

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Thanks for the criticism! This is something that we have been working on improving with the newer lessons.

thefretsbandthefretsband replied

there is tabs!! in the c major scale in the supplemental content haha

joseefjoseef replied

What is the C at the beginning of the staff for?

mattbrownmattbrown replied

The "C" stands for "common time." Common time is the exact same thing as 4/4, just another way of writing it.

canntonycanntony replied

Matt I aggree withthe few comments about visual display I am compleatly new to music and can not follow your lesson without seeing what you are talking about at this stage 1/4 1/2 notes and staffs mean nothing and that is what I joined to see and learn. Thank you. Tony

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Thanks for the comment! I'll keep your suggestions in mind whenever I film these type of lessons for JamPlay in the future.

xingyu92xingyu92 replied

lol this epic classic song

imperatorimperator replied

It's almost amazing how unintuitive reading standard notation can be on the guitar. Perhaps this is because the bass and treble clefs are a representation of the piano's keyboard? Guitarists need their own form of notation, beyond mere TAB, but yet something that has not evolved to represent another instruments layout of notes.

souzeequesouzeeque replied

In Angels... on High, I have not found B flat on the guitar. Can you enlighten me? The closest I get is G string first fret but ouch it sounds baaaad. Thanks, S

nate_thegreatnate_thegreat replied

you need to review your fretboard and learn how to figure out where notes are. that is definitely a prerequisite to reading music.

lucretialucretia replied

When you say that it ends on the tonic F, what do you mean?

nate_thegreatnate_thegreat replied

tonic meaning, the main note of the key (the root note). in key of F, F would be the tonic note. there are a bunch of different names for the different notes of a key (e.g. dominant, subdominant, etc) so people who are confused should probably wiki the definitions.

obldaveobldave replied


rosaguitarrosaguitar replied

im confuse about one thing about the old man song. the notes are GEG and i see your playing the open G, 4th string 2nd fret, how do you know its those note if you can use open e, 1st string, 3rd fret. you can even use 5th string ,7th fret and ,4th strings, 5 fret but how do you know to use those notes it doenst say which strings or what fret it just says GEG and there are many different ways to play GEG.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Good questions! You're right, there are several different locations of those notes on the fretboard. First off, you need to determine which octave those notes are played in. For example, your example of the E and G notes on the first string are played in a higher octave. You're right, you could play the E and G notes that are on the 4th and 3rd strings on the 5th and 4th strings. These early lessons of the series stick to 1st postion, i.e. notes located within the first four frets. Higher positions of the fretboard are not discussed until later lessons. Just assume that all notes should be played in first position at this point unless otherwise noted in the lesson video.

myerssa1970myerssa1970 replied

Please Hide this series from new players . Do not take this the wrong way Matt, but.."Dear God, don't let new guitarists see this series". Honestly, this is the stuff that will make people give up..unless they enjoy self sadism. I'm self taugh for 2 years now and I now feel I'm ready to work on reading music with no fear of throwing my gear away. Having that confidence will enable me to have patience with this very difficult topic to teach anyone.

kevinpickellkevinpickell replied

The lack of visual examples in the video make following this lesson very difficult.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

I agree. I will do my best to improve in this area for upcoming lessons that I film. Thank you for the comment!

blueguitar420blueguitar420 replied

this old man riff sounds like that kid barney theme song lol

viajer1028viajer1028 replied

Hi, This leason is very good, but it would be easier to follow if Mat use some visual help. I know that there is suplemental content, but it is not (at least for me) easy for me to stop watching the video to go down the page to see the notes, I get lost. Thank you.

jboothjbooth replied

I find it helps me the most to print them out and have them in front of me. As these exercises get bigger and bigger it is going to be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to feature the full music in the video. Something else you may want to try is opening up two browsers and putting them side by side (or one on top of the other) and having one of them focus on the video and having it playing, and having the other browser on the supplemental content where you need it, so they can both be up at the same time.

viajer1028viajer1028 replied

jajaja. I did not think about those very smart options. However, I was watching other lessons from this serie, and he is actually doing it (visual help while he plays). Well, I will be using the two windows, thanks for that.

souzeequesouzeeque replied

Hi Matt, Nice litttle lessons. I have been taking classic guitar lessons, only on my eighth one and I do enjoy it. I noticed a message back in May that talked about the music not being landscaped and not actually fitting on the page. Now September, it seems this should be corrected. I do want to learn notes and of course I need to have the print so I can make my own notes and this is not possible. How about a little editing and saving a tree or two by not having blanks shoot out of the printer? Would love that. Yes and Yes, I can now play this old man!! Thanks, S

lucretialucretia replied

Yeah, I found that when I printing it out it was cut off the right edge of the A4; scaling the print to 90% helped (Firefox on Linux), I have no idea if all browsers support this feature.

tormented256tormented256 replied

i know the basics on reading the music sheet the notes that are on the line and in between. but the thing that confuses me is that if we have a C note or any note for that matter how do we know what C to play on the Neck theres. it confuses me. i know what note it is but how do i know what string it is and which half of the neck to play it on? i have seen the supplemental content on it that gives the tabs, but i'm just wondering that is the same thing for everything of just to reading these songs? I think i'm getting ahead of myslef I don't know.

larrythao1994larrythao1994 replied

what is that C shape before the notes

mattbrownmattbrown replied

The "C" indicates that the song is in common time. Common time is the exact same as 4/4 time.

theshakertheshaker replied

he talks to much i like more show.

rj surfsrj surfs replied

"Maybe we should have done this in Phase 3... it's so cool" - LOL Way to go Matt!

mbeurymbeury replied

...a retarded person trying to draw a nazi symbol, wow didnt expect that. but perfect explanation lol

birchybirchy replied

It would be easier if the music score graphic were smaller so that it fits on the screen without have to scan left and right/ up and down to see the whole tune. When I tried to print out the lesson I got 1 page with nothing worth talking about on it.

kevinacekevinace replied

We're actually working on revising the supplemental content system right now. There will be quite a few improvements to it (including it actually fitting, and being printable).

hgnativehgnative replied

playing along with a cd does this help with rythrm & timing ?

jboothjbooth replied

It sure does. Think of it like playing along with a metronome, but instead of the metronome beep you have drums and another guitarist to guide you.

mattbrownmattbrown replied


mercenarymercenary replied

lol your guitar is too shiny its blinding me :)

mattbrownmattbrown replied

supp. content will be posted in the next few days. thanks!

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Ah Vince...I love how you make me look like a jackass with your editing! Very entertaining.

kevinacekevinace replied

Haha...scene 3 introduction?

Reading Music and Rhythm

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Matt brings all of his years of education right to you with this fantastic series on how to read music. You will start with the very basics and work up to some very advanced concepts.

Intro to Reading MusicLesson 1

Intro to Reading Music

This introductory lesson will walk you through the basics of reading music and reading rhythm.

Length: 15:07 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Reading MusicLesson 2

Reading Music

Learn how to identify notes, the key signature, and the staff. Implement your reading skills by playing a few simple tunes.

Length: 43:32 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Rhythm and Time SignaturesLesson 3

Rhythm and Time Signatures

Learn the basics of notation and time signatures. Practice these concepts with a few timing exercises.

Length: 22:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
3/4 Time SignaturesLesson 4

3/4 Time Signatures

Now that you've learned a bit about 4/4 time, it's on to 3/4 time.

Length: 22:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Reading Music PracticeLesson 5

Reading Music Practice

Now that you know the basics of reading music, it's time to put that knowledge to work with some exercises.

Length: 25:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
On Top of Old SmokeyLesson 6

On Top of Old Smokey

Get some more practice reading music and rhythms during your rock fest rendition of "On Top of Old Smokey".

Length: 15:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
He's Got the Whole WorldLesson 7

He's Got the Whole World

Matt Brown reviews the G major scale and teaches "He's Got the Whole World".

Length: 13:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Amazing GraceLesson 8

Amazing Grace

Matt Brown explains how to read music in the key of F major. He uses the song "Amazing Grace" as an example.

Length: 15:22 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Shoo, FlyLesson 9

Shoo, Fly

Matt Brown teaches the song "Shoo, Fly" as another excellent rhythm and reading example. This song is in the key of G.

Length: 14:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Scales and Key SignaturesLesson 10

Scales and Key Signatures

Matt Brown returns with the 10th installment in his Reading and Rhythm series. In this lesson, Matt discusses key signatures.

Length: 14:09 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Minor Key and Aura LeeLesson 11

Minor Key and Aura Lee

In this lesson Matt Brown covers the first minor key song in this series, "Aura Lee".

Length: 12:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Scarborough FairLesson 12

Scarborough Fair

In this lesson, Matt introduces the A Dorian mode. He applies it to the song "Scarborough Fair".

Length: 16:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Second PositionLesson 13

Second Position

In lesson 13, Matt Brown discusses and demonstrates second position.

Length: 29:52 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
RhythmLesson 14


Lesson 14 is all about rhythm. Matt Brown discusses its importance and provides several exercises.

Length: 20:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
On Top of Old Smokey ReviewLesson 15

On Top of Old Smokey Review

Matt Brown reviews "On Top of Old Smokey". This time around, the melody is played in second position.

Length: 7:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Reviewing Angels We Have Heard On High Lesson 16

Reviewing Angels We Have Heard On High

For lesson 14, Matt Brown reviews "Angels We Have Heard On High". The melody is now played in second position.

Length: 12:02 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Shoo, Fly ReviewLesson 17

Shoo, Fly Review

Matt Brown reviews the song "Shoo, Fly" in second position.

Length: 8:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rhythm StrummingLesson 18

Rhythm Strumming

This lesson covers right hand rhythm technique. Matt introduces syncopated strumming patterns.

Length: 25:38 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Down by the RiversideLesson 19

Down by the Riverside

Matt teaches the melody to "Down by the Riverside". This tune is used as preparation for learning accompaniment techniques.

Length: 15:02 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
AccompanimentLesson 20


Matt uses the song "Down by the Riverside" to teach accompaniment techniques for rhythm backing.

Length: 12:31 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Fur Elise Pt. 1Lesson 21

Fur Elise Pt. 1

Matt teaches the classic tune "Fur Elise" in a two part series. For Part 1, Matt demonstrates the melody section.

Length: 24:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Fur Elise Pt. 2Lesson 22

Fur Elise Pt. 2

In lesson 22, Matt teaches the accompaniment sections to Beethoven's "Fur Elise".

Length: 13:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Entertainer Pt. 1Lesson 23

The Entertainer Pt. 1

Lesson 23 starts a 2 part series on the classic tune "The Entertainer".

Length: 16:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Entertainer Pt. 2Lesson 24

The Entertainer Pt. 2

Lesson 24 completes the two part series on "The Entertainer". You will learn the accompaniment in this lesson.

Length: 14:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Sea to Sea Pt. 1Lesson 25

Sea to Sea Pt. 1

Matt starts another 2 part lesson, this time on the tune "Sea to Sea" by William G. Leavitt.

Length: 20:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sea to Sea Pt. 2Lesson 26

Sea to Sea Pt. 2

Lesson 26 completes Matt's 2 part series on "Sea to Sea".

Length: 10:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Stars and Stripes Forever Pt. 1Lesson 27

Stars and Stripes Forever Pt. 1

Matt introduces the B flat major scale and teaches the song "Stars and Stripes Forever".

Length: 21:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Stars and Stripes Forever Pt. 2Lesson 28

Stars and Stripes Forever Pt. 2

Matt completes his two part series on "Stars and Stripes Forever" by teaching the accompaniment.

Length: 7:39 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
D Major in First and Second PositionLesson 29

D Major in First and Second Position

Matt Brown teaches the D Major scale in both first and second positions.

Length: 17:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Danny Boy Pt. 1Lesson 30

Danny Boy Pt. 1

Matt Brown demonstrates "Danny Boy" in both first and second positions.

Length: 16:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Danny Boy Pt. 2Lesson 31

Danny Boy Pt. 2

Matt Brown teaches the accompaniment to the "Danny Boy" melody.

Length: 12:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Silent Night Pt. 1Lesson 32

Silent Night Pt. 1

Matt teaches the Christmas classic "Silent Night."

Length: 18:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Silent Night Pt. 2Lesson 33

Silent Night Pt. 2

Matt teaches the accompaniment to the "Silent Night" melody.

Length: 4:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Funiculi Funicula Pt. 1Lesson 34

Funiculi Funicula Pt. 1

Matt Brown teaches "Funiculi Funicula" as an exercise in reading and playing in 6/8 time.

Length: 14:39 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Funiculi Funicula Pt. 2Lesson 35

Funiculi Funicula Pt. 2

Matt Brown teaches the accompaniment to "Funiculi Funicula".

Length: 16:40 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Strumming TripletsLesson 36

Strumming Triplets

In lesson 36, Matt provides exercises to help you strum triplet patterns.

Length: 23:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Strumming Sixteenth Note RhythmsLesson 37

Strumming Sixteenth Note Rhythms

In lesson 37, Matt Brown demonstrates how to strum sixteenth note rhythms.

Length: 17:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Song of the Volga BoatmenLesson 38

Song of the Volga Boatmen

Matt Brown demonstrates the melody and tips for playing the Russian folk tune "Song of the Volga Boatmen".

Length: 11:33 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Song of the Volga Boatmen Pt. 2Lesson 39

Song of the Volga Boatmen Pt. 2

In lesson 39, Matt teaches the accompaniment to "Song of the Volga Boatmen".

Length: 8:35 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Dance of the UkraineLesson 40

Dance of the Ukraine

Matt Brown teaches and demonstrates "Dance of the Ukraine."

Length: 15:37 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Dance of the Ukraine Pt. 2Lesson 41

Dance of the Ukraine Pt. 2

Matt demonstrates the accompaniment to the "Dance of the Ukraine" melody.

Length: 13:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Etude by Ferdinando CarulliLesson 42

Etude by Ferdinando Carulli

Matt Brown teaches an etude for classical guitar by Ferdinando Carulli.

Length: 21:20 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Morning Pt. 1Lesson 43

Morning Pt. 1

Matt Brown teaches the melody section to "Morning" by Edvard Grieg.

Length: 18:44 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Morning Pt. 2Lesson 44

Morning Pt. 2

Matt teaches the accompaniment for Edvard Grieg's "Morning."

Length: 8:08 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Bach's Minuet Pt. 1Lesson 45

Bach's Minuet Pt. 1

Matt Brown teaches Bach's classic Minuet.

Length: 14:55 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Bach's Minuet Pt. 2Lesson 46

Bach's Minuet Pt. 2

In lesson 46, Matt Brown covers the accompaniment section to Bach's Minuet.

Length: 5:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Little Prelude in C Pt. 1Lesson 47

Little Prelude in C Pt. 1

Matt Brown teaches Bach's "Little Prelude in C."

Length: 16:23 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Little Prelude in C Pt. 2Lesson 48

Little Prelude in C Pt. 2

Matt Brown teaches the accompaniment to "Little Prelude in C" by Bach.

Length: 7:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Clementi's SonatinaLesson 49

Clementi's Sonatina

Matt Brown teaches the 2nd guitar part to Muzio Clementi's famous "Sonatina."

Length: 23:46 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Bach's Invention #1Lesson 50

Bach's Invention #1

Matt Brown teaches Invention #1 composed by J.S. Bach.

Length: 21:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Third PositionLesson 51

Third Position

Matt takes a look at playing in third position. This lesson will set up future reading lessons that require the third position.

Length: 7:16 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Third Position PracticeLesson 52

Third Position Practice

Matt Brown has you working through Jean Philippe Rameau's Minuet for third position playing in lesson 52. He provides a play along and accompaniment to help your sight reading and playing.

Length: 15:11 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Matt Brown

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

Lesson Information

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Amber Russell Amber Russell

Playing fingerstyle requires the ability to play different techniques at the same time. This of course, is not always an...

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Eve Goldberg Eve Goldberg

Eve talks about the boom-chuck strum pattern. This strum pattern will completely change the sound of your playing.

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Miche Fambro Miche Fambro

Miche introduces several new chord concepts that add color and excitement to any progression.

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Phil Keaggy Phil Keaggy

Phil discusses inspiration, where it's found and how you can take almost anything around you and use it to inspire your own...

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Trace Bundy Trace Bundy

Trace Bundy talks about the different ways you can use multiple capos to enhance your playing.

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Jim Deeming Jim Deeming

Jim discusses the importance of setting goals. He provides some tips that will help steer your practicing in the right direction.

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Randall Williams Randall Williams

In this lesson Randall introduces the partial capo (using a short-cut capo by Kyser) and talks about how it can make the...

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Danny Voris Danny Voris

Lesson 7 is all about arpeggios. Danny provides discussion and exercises designed to build your right hand skills.

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Pamela Goldsmith Pamela Goldsmith

Pamela brings a cap to her first 13 JamPlay lessons with another original etude inspired by the great Leo Brouwer. This is...

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Ian Argys Ian Argys

Lesson 6 is all about the major mode. As with the other lessons you'll be taking a look at the individual notes on the strings...

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Eric Haugen Eric Haugen

Eric Haugen discusses the goals of his "Six String Problem Solver" lesson series and what kind of material it covers.

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Michael Palmisano Michael Palmisano

Michael kicks off his course and explains what to expect from the course, as well as who this course is designed for.

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Lita Ford Lita Ford

Lita Ford, guitarist for The Runaways, presents a fantastic and in depth series on what it was like and what it took professionally...

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Monte Pittman Monte Pittman

The hungarian minor scale can be viewed as a modification of the harmonic minor scale. It has a very exotic sound, and is...

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Glen Drover Glen Drover

Lesson 25 from Glen presents a detailed exercise that firmly builds up fret hand dexterity for both speed and accuracy.

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Kris Norris Kris Norris

Kris analyzes different pick sizes and their effect on his playing. Using a slow motion camera, he is able to point out the...

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Braun Khan Braun Khan

In this lesson, Braun teaches the chord types that are commonly used in jazz harmony. Learn how to build the chords and their...

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Brent Mason Brent Mason

Learn Nashville style country guitar from one of the most recorded guitarists in history. Check out rhythm grooves, solos,...

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Rafael Moreira Rafael Moreira

Playing your scales and improvising horizontally on one string is a great way to visualize the scale degrees, and also a...

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