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Beginning Guitarist Study Outline Going it alone as a beginning guitarist can be challenging because you dont get the

road map through the musical journey that a teacher can provide. Its much harder to learn intermediate and advanced guitar concepts if you dont have the basics down first. Im going to give you a checklist of guitar concepts every guitarist needs to know, and the order you should learn them in for the easiest advancement. First, a couple of tips. Dont try to tackle all of these subj ects at once. Music is a cumulative study. Think about the way youd study math. You cant learn calculus until youve already got algebra under your belt. Second, dont just study these concepts in a vacuum. As much as possible you want to learn them in the context of a song. Youll understand the ideas better and find they stick in your head more if youre using them in a real world context. Plus, its just more fun to learn that way! Some of these ideas will overlap each other a little bit along the way. And some are ongoing ideas that youll continue to develop at higher levels. But this is a good basic order to learn them in. Reading Standard Music Notation and Tablature Learning to read music isnt as hard as it seems and will make the res t of your learning experience much easier. The notation is simply the instructions on how to play a piece of music. Without it, its like trying to put together a piece of furniture without being able to read the instructions. You might eventually figure it out, but it will be harder and take longer than it needs to. Guitar tablature is a simple system to understand, but dont stop with that. Tabs dont have a rhythm notation component. So you already have to know the rhythm to make sense of the notes. Being able to read standard notation along with the tab will get you everywhere you want to go. Open Position Notes The open position is the first three frets of each string. Youll learn the names of the open strings, plus a couple other notes on each string. I suggest taking this one string at a time and finding little pieces to play with each set of notes. Keep expanding one string at a time until youve done all six strings. You may want to invest a couple bucks in a beginner guitar book by Mel Bay or someone similar. Having their little graded pieces can save you a lot of time searching around for something to play. Basic Music Theory You might think its a little early for this, but its not. Music theory is something that youll use and expand on throughout the guitar learning process. Its like learning the grammar of music. By knowing how the music is put together, youll be able to apply that knowledge to every new song you learn to make the learning go faster.

Heres a quick list of basic theory ideas you should get to: - How chords are built - Tension and release - What a key is - Chord relationships (You should be able to answer a question like What is the IV chord in the key of F major?) - Half, Authentic, and Plagal cadences - Intervals - Borrowed chords Again, dont just try to memorize these concepts. Always look for them in real pieces of music to see how theyre actually used. Basic Open Position Chords Open chords are ones that use a combination of fretted notes and open strings. Theyll mostly occur within the first three frets of the neck. I suggest starting with major, minor, and dominant seventh versions for all the natural notes, A-G. Look for songs that use a few of the chords and learn them in that context. Dont try to learn any more than five or six at a time. This allows you to learn new chords as you need them instead of trying to cram 21 different chords into your head at once. Strumming Patterns Its no good having chords if you dont have any rhythms to go along with them, right? You can start with some basic quarter note/eighth note rhythms and later expand into sixteenth notes and syncopations. Work the rhythms first over just one chord, then use pairs of chords to practice changing them effectively. Youll contin ue to learn and invent rhythm patterns throughout your studies. Tuning By Ear I didnt put this earlier in the list because you can use electronic tuners to keep you in check early on. But as you get more advanced youll find that those tuners will get y ou in the ballpark, but rarely perfectly tuned. Being able to tune by ear will help you fine tune your guitar to make it sound much better. Youre not looking for perfect pitch here. Youll start with a reference note from another source and use relative pitch to tune the rest of the guitar. Barre Chords Once youve gotten your open chords down, youll start running across chords that cant be played that way, like a C#7. Barre chords use all fretted notes to create the chords. The nice thing is that you really only need to know eight patterns here because theyre movable to other areas of the neck. Make sure to learn major, minor, dominant seventh, and minor seventh voicings rooted from both the fifth and sixth strings. What makes barre chords a little harder is the physicality of holding down five or six strings at once and keeping them all clean sounding. If you run into some trouble with

these, thats totally normal. Just keep working at them. As a guitarist, youll use barre chords a lot. Also, while youre learning your barre chords, you can easily learn how to read all the rest of the notes on the fretboard. Pentatonic Scales Traditional music teaching would have you learn major scales first. But for a guitarist, pentatonic scales are much more immediately useful. As with anything, dont try and learn everything at once. Start with a basic box pattern rooted on the sixth string. Add subsequent patterns once youre comfortable with the one youre learning. Major Scales Same as with the pentatonics, you want to work with one pattern at a time here. The nice thing is that once you know some major patterns, they can be slightly changed to become other interesting scales as well. Always look at how the new thing youre learning relates to the old stuff you learned. Position Playing Position playing means being able to play melodies higher up on the neck than the open position. Once youve got some major and pentatonic scales under your fingers, this wont be that hard. Minor Scales Your minor scales are related to the major patterns you learned before. Here youll want to get to know the natural, harmonic, and melodic minors. Extended Chords Extended chords go beyond the old major and minor. Youll need all the variations of seventh chords, diminished and augmented, ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth voicings. As you go along youll pick up new chords you find in pieces your playing. Remember that music is a cumulative form of study. The more you learn, the easier it is to learn more. The building blocks that you learn early on will still be relevant later when youre tying out much more complicated pieces. Once you can make your way around each of the concepts above youll be ready to go into any style and any piece youd like with the proper tools to teach yourself.