Reading Music Practice (Guitar Lesson)


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Matt Brown

Reading Music Practice

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

Taught by Matt Brown in Reading Music and Rhythm seriesLength: 25:43Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (01:51) Lesson Overview This lesson builds upon the rhythm exercises you learned in the last lesson. For this reason, you must master all of these exercises before proceeding to the material presented in the current lesson. reading concepts to some basic melodies. Now that you are acquainted with reading some basic rhythm figures in 3/4, it is time to practice reading some basic melodies in this time signature. By practicing "Home On the Range" and "The Star-Spangled Banner," you will learn key musicianship tools such as phrasing and practice techniques that can be applied to any written score.
Chapter 2: (07:52) Home On the Range Review the Process of Learning a New Piece

1. Learn the title and the composer.
2. Note the tempo and style. None is indicated for both of the pieces discussed in this lesson. This leaves some discretion and choice in the hands of the player. This is why it is important to study music literature, styles, and interpretation. These topics will be covered in great detail throughout the course of this lesson series.
3. Note the key signature. Both "Home On the Range" and "The Star Spangled Banner" contain no flats or sharps in the key signature. From the circle of fifths, we know that this indicates the key of C major or A minor. Both pieces are in C major. (Minor keys will not be discussed until later in the series.)
4. Note the time signature (3/4).

Pickup Notes

Take a look at the score for "Home On the Range" in the "Supplemental Content" section. Although this song is in 3/4, the first and last measure do not contain three full beats. Notes that occur in an "incomplete" measure at the beginning of a piece are referred to as pickup notes. The technical musical term for a pickup note is an "anacrusis." Frequently when an anacrusis occurs, its rhythmic value is subtracted from the final measure of the piece. Pay very close attention to how Matt counts in this melody. Notice how he counts a full measure of rest before the measure with the anacrusis. This will provide a clearly defined tempo to the other musicians you are playing with.

Demonstration Time

In this scene, Matt plays through the melody to "Home On the Range." The first several times you watch this performance, simply listen. What do you notice? Pay the most attention to the overall sound of his performance. Finally, after you have learned and mastered the melody, come back to this scene in order to compare your version to Matt's. Pay careful attention to the rhythm, phrasing, and musicality aspects of his performance. Make any necessary adjustments.

Learning the Lyrics

As you discovered in previous lessons, learning the lyrics to any melody will help you phrase the melody and enhance the musicality of your performance. It also helps with memorizing any melody. Phrasing is like speaking. You must play the phrases as such.

Note: Often, the location of phrase breaks is arguable. Some people might consider the first two phrases one single, larger phrase. How would you sing it? Where would you take breaths? Separate phrases with subtlety. Always remember to be tasteful.

1st Phrase: Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam,

2nd Phrase: Where the deer and the antelope play.

Chapter 3: (09:30) Home On the Range (continued) Phrasing (continued)

Phrase 3: Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, The notes for this phrase are the same as the first. This is very important to notice. It will help you learn and memorize the piece.

Phrase 4: And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Phrase 5 (Refrain): Home, home on the range,

Rests

Make sure you carefully observe and respect all proper values for notes and rests. Don't get lazy!!

Phrase 6: Where the deer and the antelope play

Phrase 7: Where seldom is heard a discouraging word (note the repeating lyrics)

Fermata

Matt chooses to place a "fermata" on the note corresponding to the lyric, "word." A fermata prolongs the rhythmic value of a note beyond its normal duration. The length of the fermata is determined by the conductor or leader of the ensemble. Watch Matt for a demonstration of how to conduct a fermata to a group while simultaneously playing the melody.

Phrase 8: And the skies are not cloudy all day.
Chapter 4: (06:26) Melody Practice & Wrap-up Listen / Play-along

In this scene, Matt gives you an opportunity to play the melody along with him. Matt has the metronome set at 110 beats per minute. This is your performance goal tempo. However, it is always recommended that you learn a piece slightly faster than the goal tempo. If you are playing with a group in a live situation, nerves tend to get the best of musicians. As a result, the tempo is pushed faster.

Also, be aware of when certain parts of the piece, such as the fermata, are coming up. You must make eye contact with Matt during the fermata to ensure that you are both on the same page.

Left Hand Muting of Open Strings

Playing a melody that contains open strings poses some difficulties. For example, you don't want an open string to ring longer than how it is written. This will result in a muddy and wholly unpleasant sounding melody line. The trick is to cut the open string off with a left hand finger immediately after the note following it is struck. Mute the open string with the most practical finger. This technique is quite similar to how pianists approach using the sustain and damper pedals. Isolate these areas in the piece and drill them until they become second nature.

Bar 3: Cut off "A" just milliseconds after the first F is struck.

The Star-Spangled Banner

Note:Open the "Supplemental Content" section for a transcription of this melody in the key of C major. This piece is for those of you that are slightly more advanced and need a little extra reading practice. Be sure to check out David MacKenzie's Phase 3 lesson pertaining to this piece for some great interpretation ideas.

Final Thoughts

Remember to practice very slowly with a metronome at all times. Also, remember to frequently review past lessons to ensure that you are not forgetting anything. You don't have to have everything completely perfect before moving onto the next lesson in this series, but it has to be really close. However, don't rush your progress! Slow and steady always wins the race. Finally, focus on your weaknesses. Don't rehearse your mistakes. Instead, solve them with care.

Stay tuned for a lesson detailing "On Top of Old Smokey!"

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.


rbradyrbrady replied on November 26th, 2011

And should the half note in the very last bar be a dotted half note, so that it fills the bar (or have a quarter rest)? Or does it not really matter because it can be treated like the opposite of an anacrusis?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on November 28th, 2011

Exactly...a lot of pieces of music that have an anacrusis have an incomplete measure at the end just so the piece has a total no. of beats that feels normal to the performer and listeners.

rbradyrbrady replied on November 26th, 2011

Why is the fermata in, "Home on the Range," written upside down?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on November 28th, 2011

That happened as a result of formatting with the version of Finale I was using. It doesn't mean anything special...it's still just a regular fermata.

ms turryms turry replied on August 14th, 2010

Matt, I am trying my best to get through your lesson set. My problem is that I find myself playing by ear (bc I am familiar with the tune) instead of reading the notes. I am really trying to read music to get to that competency level you introduced. But, should I just rely on repetition to let the notes and fingering sink in? Suzanne

mattbrownmattbrown replied on August 18th, 2010

Hey! My suggestion is to find some outside sheet music to a piece that you are not familiar with and work on that. Practice up on it for awhile. Then, listen to a recording of the piece and compare the way you perform it to the recording. That way, you can't rely on your ears while you are first learning the piece. I definitely know where you're coming from. At this point, if I can sing how a melody goes in my head, my fingers just sort of know where to go. I'm not really thinking so much in terms of individual notes and all that.

petermcgpetermcg replied on January 7th, 2009

I may be too much of a beginner but I wish he would tie in where he is fingering and what notes he is playing more with the notation printout materials . Otherwise it is not teaching me how to read but rather how to listen to him play.

nate_thegreatnate_thegreat replied on October 22nd, 2009

I'd say it is best that you learn how to properly play guitar, at least to the "seasoned beginner" level, and then try learning to read music. otherwise it will be too hard to follow along since u wont have knowledge of where notes are on the fretboard. but I have seen people learn guitar and to read music at the same time, so if you feel like you're getting it now, then good!

hazeldinehazeldine replied on June 15th, 2008

We minions are not worthy Matt!!!... ( even Dennis is gettin in with the comments : P )

ironsonironson replied on May 7th, 2008

Thre are many G notes on the fretboard. Is the G you used in the song (string 6,fret3) always as written on the notation for this song, and if not, how do we know where it should be played?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on May 1st, 2008

It is a pretty rockin' tune. Note JamPlayers, the two G notes on "where the" deer are typically played an octave lower...not always though.

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied on May 1st, 2008

"home on the range" has always been a personal fave

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.



Lesson 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
Lesson 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 FREE
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 13

Second Position

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

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

Rhythm

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

Length: 20:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 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
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
Lesson 17

Shoo, Fly Review

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

Length: 8:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Rhythm Strumming

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

Length: 25:38 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 20

Accompaniment

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

Length: 12:31 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 30

Danny Boy Pt. 1

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

Length: 16:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Danny Boy Pt. 2

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

Length: 12:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

Silent Night Pt. 1

Matt teaches the Christmas classic "Silent Night."

Length: 18:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

Silent Night Pt. 2

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

Length: 4:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 35

Funiculi Funicula Pt. 2

Matt Brown teaches the accompaniment to "Funiculi Funicula".

Length: 16:40 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 36

Strumming Triplets

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

Length: 23:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 40

Dance of the Ukraine

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

Length: 15:37 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 42

Etude by Ferdinando Carulli

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

Length: 21:20 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 43

Morning Pt. 1

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

Length: 18:44 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 44

Morning Pt. 2

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

Length: 8:08 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 45

Bach's Minuet Pt. 1

Matt Brown teaches Bach's classic Minuet.

Length: 14:55 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 47

Little Prelude in C Pt. 1

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

Length: 16:23 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 50

Bach's Invention #1

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

Length: 21:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 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

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.

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