The First Two Strings (Guitar Lesson)

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Jim Deeming

The First Two Strings

Jim covers the first two strings in this lesson. He explains where the natural notes are located on the fretboard and how they appear on the staff.

Taught by Jim Deeming in Music Reading seriesLength: 17:12Difficulty: 1.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (01:19) Lesson Introduction In the last two lessons, Jim explained where the natural notes are played in first position. These notes comprise the C major scale. He also explained how notes are labeled on the musical staff. This time around, you will learn how the notes on the staff correspond to specific string / fret locations on the guitar. The current lesson will provide you with the tools necessary to begin sight reading sheet music. You will begin by reading notes that are played on the B and E strings in first position. Jim will provide exercises that involve the remaining strings in future lessons.
Chapter 2: (07:51) First and Second Strings You should already have memorized the names and locations of all of the natural notes in first position. If you have not, please review the previous two lessons.

2nd String Notes

Jim begins this scene by explaining where the second string notes (B, C, and D) are written on the staff. The open B string is written on the middle line in treble clef. The note C, played at the 1st fret on the 2nd string, is written in the third space from the bottom. Then, D, which is played at the third fret, is written on the fourth line from the bottom. Refer to Jim's marker board for a clear visual representation of where these notes are written on the staff.

As you begin to play written music, say each note name aloud as you play it on guitar. This will help your brain identify notes on the staff by sight much more quickly.

1st String Notes

The same fingering applied to the 2nd string is used to play the natural notes in first position on the high E string. Once again, the first and third fingers will be used to fret the notes on this string.

The open 1st string produces the pitch E. This note is written in the top space on the musical staff. The next note, F, is played at the first fret of the 1st string. This note is written on the top line of the staff. Remember that the notes E and F are only one half step apart. The third and final note G is played at the third fret by the third finger. This particular G note sits right on top of the staff. For a clear visual representation of these notes on the staff, you can access a still photo of Jim's marker board in the "Supplemental Content" section.

In addition to saying each of the note names aloud, begin practicing them in a steady rhythm. Set your metronome to a relatively slow tempo, such as 70 beats per minute. Tap your foot in time with the metronome as you play through the mini exercise written on Jim's marker board. A metronome is available online in JamPlay's "Teaching Tools" area. This section can be accessed from the left side of the homepage.
Chapter 3: (07:49) Music Reading Exercise The best way to learn how to read music is to sight read as often as possible. In this scene, Jim provides an exercise that will give you some practice with reading notes on the B and E strings. This exercise can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab. Tablature accompanies the notation. However, do not cheat yourself by reading through the exercise using the tablature. You may want to print this document. Then, cover up the tablature below the standard notation with a piece of scrap paper. Also, do not write in the letter names of each of the notes above the staff. This exercise is designed to train the connection between your eyes and your mental knowledge of where notes are written on the staff.

Additional Exercise Guidelines

When practicing through this exercise, remember to tap your foot along with a metronome set to a slow tempo. Also, say each note name aloud as you play it. Although this is just an exercise and not a piece of music, try to play the exercise as musically as possible. Apply this rule to anything that you are working on, regardless of whether you are playing a technical exercise or a piece of music.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Supplemental Learning Material


Member Comments about this Lesson

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

leonardseymoreleonardseymore replied on January 18th, 2013

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leonardseymoreleonardseymore replied on January 18th, 2013

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daristanydaristany replied on May 10th, 2012

Finally, I am so glad to see the staff notes being located on the fretboard. I was getting frustrated because of the many choices for the same note on the fretboard. Thank you for addressing my issue even before I asked the question. I will certainly learn quicker with your teaching techniques. Thank you very kindly.

maedimaedi replied on November 19th, 2012

Thank you Jim for your patience in this lesson. I really liked ( yet struggled with ) this lesson. It made me think, and because of that I'm learning. I'm looking forward to more of these lessons, so that I can hopefully under stand how to read the simplest of music. Thanks again!

pengeronpengeron replied on December 28th, 2011

Great Session Jim, Thanks for breaking it all down.

aignaoaignao replied on October 15th, 2011

on First and Second String Notes exercise, on the 4th measure we have 3 quarter notes and one quarter rest, do u suppose to hold on the third note or mute it.

solidsnakesolidsnake replied on March 1st, 2011

im getting it slowly

djl1djl1 replied on January 11th, 2011

I made up my own practice sheets using free printable staff paper - and have also bought Finale Notepad 2001 (a snip at $10). I think writing my own practice sheets has really helped me learn these notes.

jams7jams7 replied on March 12th, 2010

I agree with raudsarw there should defiantly be a second page with tab removed.. But I just put it in Guitar Pro 5 and removed the tab line

joseefjoseef replied on October 16th, 2009

The format of sheet is not in letter size, to print portrait style on letter paper size it must be readjusted to 85% of size to get entire staff... no need to print 2nd page either.. you can cover tablature with white sticky paper rolls you can buy at any office store (reusable) or just stick a piece of paper with tape to cover it,

raudsarwraudsarw replied on August 29th, 2009

The tablature should really be removed from Supplemental Content, or at least be made seperate. It's a distraction.

Music Reading

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Reading music and rhythm is the foundation for anyone serious about music. In order to understand the theory necessary to progress as a player, a basic understanding of how to read music and how to read rhythms is necessary.

Lesson 1

Basic Notes and Theory

Understanding notes, intervals, and scales is key to music reading. Jim proves a beginner crash course on these subjects.

Length: 18:53 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Basic Music Reading

Jim covers basic music concepts such as the staff, time signatures, clefs, measures, note duration, and note representation.

Length: 16:25 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

The First Two Strings

Jim covers the first two strings in this lesson. He explains where the natural notes are located on the fretboard and how they appear on the staff.

Length: 17:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

The Third and Fourth Strings

Jim covers the third and fourth strings. He explains where the natural notes are located on the fretboard and how they appear on the staff.

Length: 11:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

The Fifth and Sixth Strings

Jim covers the fifth and sixth strings. He explains where the natural notes are located on the fretboard and how they appear on the staff.

Length: 11:34 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Symbols, Timing, and Notes

Jim Deeming explains more music symbols in this lesson. He also introduces 3/4 time and eighth notes.

Length: 10:25 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

In this lesson Jim Deeming uses the classic song "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" as a music reading exercise.

Length: 11:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

The Low Strings

In this lesson Jim takes the song "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and plays it on the lower strings. This is an excellent exercise for reading and memorizing these notes.

Length: 5:39 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9


Jim Deeming teaches a music reading exercise entitled "Echo." This fun, play-along lesson is a perfect way to hone your reading and counting skills.

Length: 18:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About Jim Deeming View Full Biography Jim Deeming got his first guitar when he was only six years old. His Dad was taking fingerpicking lessons, and Jim wanted to be just like him. The Mel Bay books didn't last very long before he strapped on a thumb pick and added the Chet part to Red River Valley so it sounded better.

Most of Jim's early learning was by ear. With unlimited access to his Dad's collection of Chet Atkins albums, he spent countless hours decoding his favorite songs. They were never "right" until they sounded just like Chet. Around the age of 12, Jim heard Jerry Reed for the first time and just knew he had to be able to make that "Alabama Wild Man" sound. The styles of Chet & Jerry always have been a big influence on his playing.

More recently he has pursued arrangements by Tommy Emmanuel and Doyle Dykes, in addition to creating some of his own and writing originals.

Jim has performed in front of a variety of audiences, including concerts, competitions, weddings and the like, but playing at church has always been a mainstay. Whether playing in worship bands or guitar solos, gospel music is deep in his roots and is also the driving theme behind his debut CD release, titled "First Fruits".

Jim has been playing for about 38 years. He also has taught private lessons in the past but believes is an exciting and better venue with many advantages over the traditional method of weekly 30 minute sessions.

Jim lives in Berthoud, Colorado with his wife, Linda, and their four children. Although he still has a "day job", he is actively performing and is already back in the studio working on the next CD. If you wonder how he finds time, look no further than the back seat of his truck where he keeps a "travel guitar" to take advantage of any practice or song-writing opportunities he can get.

The opening song you hear in Jim's introductory JamPlay video is called, "A Pick In My Pocket". It's an original tune, written in memory of Jim's father who told him early on he should always keep a pick in his pocket in case he ever met Chet Atkins and got the chance to play for him. That song is slated to be the title track for his next CD, which will feature several more originals plus some of his favorite covers of Chet and Jerry arrangements.

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