LESSON 1 – HOLDING THE GUITAR & IDENTIFYING THE VARIOUS PARTS

Welcome to your very first lesson in playing the guitar. No doubt you have heard guitars used in many of your favourite songs and you’re eager to emulate those sounds yourself. You may have already plucked the strings a few times or even learned something already from a friend or relative. Either way it is likely that the guitar is completely new to you so there are a few things you need to know first to get you started.

Firstly lets talk about how to hold your new guitar. Hopefully you will have a guitar that isn’t too big or too small for you. There are a few different sizes available (1/2 size 3/4 size and full size) So make sure you have the right one that feels comfortable for you.

If you are right handed, the neck of the guitar should be in your left hand with your right hand over the body. If you are left handed you should consult your doctor immediately… only kidding…

The underside curve of the body should sit nicely on your right leg (if you are right handed) with the neck facing your left hand and your left hand should be able to reach the end of the neck comfortably.

Starting from the guitar body here are the different parts of the guitar and what they are called. The body of course is the biggest and main part of the guitar and is responsible for amplifying the sound made by the strings. The sound goes in through the sound-hole and moves around inside the guitar. The strings are connected to the bridge and are stretched along the neck to the nut and wound around the machine heads in the head-stock to keep them in place. You can adjust the pitch of the strings by loosening or tightening them with the tuning pegs. Along the neck are metal strips used to divide the string into different pitches, these are called frets.

The last thing you’re going to need is a plectrum. Once you have one lets head over to lesson 2

LESSON 2: TUNING YOUR GUITAR:

Tuning the strings of your guitar is one of the most important things to learn to be able to not only sound good on your own or with other instruments but also to be able to follow these lessons effectively. You will very likely need to do this every time you pick up the guitar so it’s worth getting to grips with this essential skill early on. I’m going to start by playing each string individually so you can hear what each one sounds like.

Hopefully you will be able to tune your strings by using your hearing alone to distinguish the difference if any, between yours and mine. This is something that can be difficult to do at first so if you are experiencing trouble it would be a good idea to invest in an electronic tuner.

By turning the tuning pegs you can lower or raise the pitch of the string as it is loosened or tightened. The tighter the string is pulled from nut to bridge the higher the pitch will be. Be careful not to tune the string too much higher than the note it is meant for or it might snap!

If you are using an electronic tuner the display should show you which note the string currently is and if it is flat or sharp. You will need to tune the strings from LOW to HIGH as follows. E – A – D – G – B – e

Now your guitar is hopefully in tune lets move on to lesson 3.

LESSON 3 – STRING 1 / E

Ok, so now you know what the important parts of the guitar are called, how to tune it and how to hold it lets take a look at how to play your first notes. We are going to start with the thinnest string (string 1) which plays the note ‘e’ and is therefore commonly called the ‘e string’. Using your plectrum, pick the string in a downwards motion towards the floor and let it ring out. Hopefully your e will sound like this…

If it doesn’t, take another look at LESSON 2 – TUNING YOUR GUITAR before continuing

Here’s what this e note looks like on a musical stave. notice the dot is in-between the top 2 lines. We will now play 4 of these notes in a row evenly like a clock ticking 1 2 3 4

Now, using your index finger of your fretting hand push the string against the neck of the guitar at the first fret to play an F note. The position of your finger should be close to the metal fret itself but not covering it. If it makes a buzzing sound it is likely that you need to either push down a little harder so that the string makes contact with the neck or your finger needs to move slightly into a better position.

Here’s what the F note looks like on the stave. Notice it is covering the top line and is a little higher than the e note. Lets play 4 of them in a row

Lastly, using your third/ring finger on your fretting hand push the string against the neck at fret 3 like this to play a G note.

Here’s what this G note looks like on the stave. Notice it is sitting on the top line and is a little higher than the F note. Lets play 4 in a row

Play each note 4 times like this

It is important to practice this to a point where you feel comfortable and you can maintain a good rhythm. Once you can play 4 of each note in time try the other examples in the next lesson.

LESSON 4 – SIGHT READING AND EAR TRAINING #1

Taking what we learned in the last lesson we are now going to work on ear training and sight reading lets see if you can recognise the different notes as they appear on the screen. This is your first lesson on sight reading.

As the note appears just tell yourself what note you think it is and after 10 seconds the answer will follow. See how many you can get right

Now you have tried a few examples of sight reading lets see how good your ears are. Can you identify the next note you hear? You can use you guitar to work out if it is an E F or G. Don’t worry if it is difficult to tell the difference straight away because it is a skill we will improve upon regularly throughout our lessons.

It is just as important to train your ears as it is to train your hands. Recognizing notes and pitches will, with practice, help you with almost all aspects of your playing. Also it’s important to know that rather than practicing once a week, you should aim to get a little bit of practice in on a regular basis but remember to have fun. If you enjoy something it doesn’t feel like work.

LESSON 5 – String 2 / B

Now that you are familiar with a few of the notes on string 1 lets move onto string 2 which plays the note ‘B’ and is therefore commonly called the ‘B string’. Using your plectrum, pick the string in a downwards motion towards the floor and let it ring out. Hopefully your B will sound like this…

If it doesn’t, take another look at LESSON 2 – TUNING YOUR GUITAR before continuing

Here’s what this B note looks like on a musical stave. notice the dot is covering the middle line. We will now play 4 of these notes in a row evenly like a clock ticking 1 2 3 4

Now, using your index finger of your fretting hand push the string against the neck of the guitar at the first fret to play an C note. The position of your finger should be close to the metal fret itself but not covering it. If it makes a buzzing sound it is likely that you need to either push down a little harder so that the string makes contact with the neck or your finger needs to move slightly into a better position.

Here’s what the C note looks like on the stave. Notice it is between the middle and upper middle line and is a little higher than the B note. Lets play 4 of them in a row

Lastly, using your third/ring finger on your fretting hand push the string against the neck at fret 3 like this to play a D note.

Here’s what this D note looks like on the stave. Notice it is covering the 2nd line from the top and is a little higher than the C note. Lets play 4 in a row

Play each note 4 times like this

It is important to practice this to a point where you feel comfortable and you can maintain a good rhythm. Once you can play 4 of each note in time try the other examples in the next lesson.

LESSON 6 – PICKING WITHOUT LOOKING

Now that you know these 3 notes on the first 2 strings you will probably notice you have been looking a lot at your fretting hand and then having to look over to your picking hand which is making things a little slower for you. Also you may be holding the guitar in a way that faces upwards more or you are leaning over the guitar to see what you are doing.

Of course this is important to see where you are putting your fingers but I would like to try to get you to practice a little without using your eyes as much. Just with touch alone.

Lets start with your picking hand. Place the plectrum so it rests on the string like this. Now let your hand relax onto the rest of the strings like this without moving the plectrum away. By doing this your hand should be much more steady and you should find it easier to pick the string a few times in a row without missing or having to look all the time at your hand.

Try picking string one then picking string 2 straight afterwards. Hopefully you will find this easier now that your hand is not waving madly above the guitar and instead has a little bit of control.

Now lets try with the fretting hand. Remember when I said to use certain fingers for certain notes in the previous lessons? Well it wasn’t just me being picky it actually helps you as you play and now hopefully you will see why. This can be a little harder to get so you should practice this until you feel comfortable. You can continue onto the next lessons without being perfect at it because you will improve this technique as you progress through the lessons but it is very important for you to get into good habits to begin with to make learning the guitar a little quicker so you can play all those awesome riffs that impresses the girls sooner 🙂

I would like you to play E F G F without looking at either of your hands. Either close your eyes or look away and see how you do. Your right hand can just keep picking string 1. As long as you can keep it controlled there you can concentrate for now on telling your fretting hand fingers what to do.

So firstly play the string ‘open’ which means without holding anything at all. Now see if you can feel for fret 1 of the first string with your index ‘pointer’ finger to play the F note. You are doing great… now lets reach to fret 3 with the ‘ring’ finger to play the G. You may find at first that you accidentally hit fret 2 but not to worry. If that happens just stretch a little further and you should be ok to make the G note. Now play the F again and do this exercise a few times in a row until you can play it once or twice without making a mistake and most importantly without cheating by looking at your hands!

You should now try to repeat this process with the notes on string 2 (B C & D). Once you can do that lets move onto our first tune in lesson 7

LESSON 7 – MIXING IT UP

Now that you know how to play the notes B, C, D, E, F & G on the first two strings and you can play with a little more control its time to put your skills to practice again. Hopefully you didn’t have too much trouble with the sight reading and ear training but don’t worry if you did because we will keep improving on that as we go along and we will practice it some more in this lesson. We are going to concentrate on an exercise called ‘MIXING IT UP‘ and as you can probably guess from the name we will be playing a mixture of notes from both strings.

Using your plectrum to pick the notes in a downward direction like this, lets start with the first note which is a C.

Just like we learned in the last lesson keep you hand resting on the strings as the plectrum rests on the string you want to play. This will improve over time so don’t worry if it’s still a little tricky for you at this stage. Just keep up the good work you’ve done so far 🙂 Some of these techniques might feel a little uncomfortable or unnatural at first but they will help you in the long run.

Now I will play it through once with notes underneath so you can hear how it sounds. Afterwards we can play it slowly together and you can keep rewinding the video to play it as many times as you need to.

LESSON 8 – WHAT ARE THESE DOTS CALLED ANYWAY?

In this lesson we are going to talk a little bit about how the notes are written down so others can read what to play. You have seen these dots with a vertical line up the side, which is called a stem, in the last few lessons and it’s time you should know what they are called. As you will soon find out there are other types of dots that you will need to learn but today lets just learn two of them.

The one we have already seen is called a CROTCHET or a QUARTER NOTE. When we play 4 of these notes in a row we have played what is known as 1 ‘bar’. 4 of these notes make up 1 bar and that is why they care called quarter notes. Crotchet is just it’s fancy name. As you can see they have been in groupings of 4 with what you have learned so far.

This tells you not only which note to play on your guitar but also for how long you should play it. So far the notes you have played have been divided equally one after the other much like the ticking of a clock but what if we want to play a note for a longer amount of time?

Now we are going to learn another type of dot called a MINIM or HALF NOTE. These last twice as long as the quarter notes so only 2 of them can fit into the bar that is why they are called half notes because 2 halves make one bar. Now lets play 4 crotchets followed by 2 minims so you can hear that they are longer notes. Let’s just use E for now

Now follow that with a little exercise mixing some crotchets with some minims and see if you can play by reading the notes as they appear on the screen.

Great work. If you had difficulty you can always rewind and try again. Now we have made a little start on trying to understand more how music is written down lets move onto another exercise to put this new knowledge into practice.

LESSON 9 – SKIPPY

Making use of what we learned last lesson about crotchets and minims as well everything else we have learned on the first 2 strings (B C D E F G) we are now going to try another tune called Skippy.

This little tune is made up of some crotchets and some minims. The minims are where there are pauses between the melody. Here is what the tune sounds like. Watch as I play it slowly for you.

Now it’s your turn. Maybe we should divide it up into 2 sections. Bars 1 – 4 first.

Now lets play Bars 5 – 8. You’ll see that there is a slightly faster change in bar 7 where you must play D F D B in quick succession. It would be a good idea just to practice that part on it’s own until you are comfortable with it then you can play the whole section with a bit more confidence.

Whenever you are confronted with a difficult section in a new song or tune it is always worth spending time working on that part first to make sure you are happy with it before trying any piece in one go. Like we did here when we divided it into 2 smaller pieces and then isolated the 1 bar that you may need extra help with.

We will approach a lot of these lessons this way. If you struggle with any aspect of these songs or lessons just pause the video and spend a little time on your own until you feel comfortable you can play it

Now lets play the tune all in one go. Follow me as I play it twice through. You can pause the video and rewind to practice as many times as you need to and of course you can play it without me too by just printing off the sheet music.

There are a number of other examples you can try by downloading the music and printing it off. When you are happy you can play all the examples provided it is time to move onto the next lesson and how to use string 3!

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