To oversimplify for a moment, an accidental is a symbol written before a note which indicates that the pitch of the note should be altered, simply put these are the Sharps, Flats and Naturals. I am sure you will recognize their musical characters.


Any discussion of accidentals quickly falls under the umbrella of music theory, to intelligently discuss music theory you should be familiar with the layout of a standard keyboard. If you look at the keys of a piano you will see that most of the white keys have a black seperating them, and some do not. The black keys which are seperating the white keys are called ‘flats and sharps’ of course, and you might further note that those black keys have two different names. The distance between a note in the chromatic scale and the very next note in the chromatic scale is called a half step. All of the notes in the chromatic scale are seperated by one half step. Below is a graphic organizer -study it and make some careful observations.


For the sake of clarity, let’s begin and end our study of the chromatic scale with the note A. In the diagram above there is one ‘new’ note, or rather one I have not yet discussed in this course and that is the A note located on the first ledger line above the staff. Below is a short video to teach you all the ins and outs of accidentals and to prepare you to complete the guitar exercises to follow.

I couldn’t count all of the amazing teachers and great players I have known but I really remember a guy named Dave Miller of Philadelphia Pa. He was an outstanding senior at Berklee during my freshman year and I was his upstairs neighbor. He was a great player, awesome writer and wasn’t afraid to go the extra mile, when I asked him something he carefully took out his music writing book and would answer my questions thoughtfully with beautiful handwritten notes and lesson plans. Because of him, I bought music writing books and began to neatly fill them up, thinking about and writing down music -and all the while, reaping unexpected benefits. I highly recommend you buy a music writing book and start using it by writing down the chromatic scale as I have done in the illustration below. Don’t be afraid to do the hard work and expend your best efforts. Writing music down is fun and it’s an indispensable part of the process.


First Position

After having learned the chromatic scale and completing the written exercise, study the diagram below –I have labeled all of the notes in position one. Words that immediately come to mind are overwhelming and daunting, but don’t worry it will seem easier and easier as you complete this lesson.
This is one educational setting in which I can afford to be completely honest: you’re never going to learn to read unless you have all the information in the diagram below and the one that follows it (of the chromatic scale written on the music staff and guitar tablature) memorized and down cold. Until you know all of that information like you know your phone number, you will never be a good music reader. The first thing I recommend doing is grabbing your guitar and studying the diagram below for a few moments, I should mention that this is the first time we are discussing notes on fret five. No doubt you are aware that fret five is where the common tuning points are located and you probably already know the names of the notes on fret five, so for purposes of this course, let’s consider all the notes on fret five part of position one. As before, start by picking the notes and saying their name out loud as you play each one. Make a special mental note of the location of all B-C note pairs and E-F pairs.


Same thing here, start by picking the notes on string 6, ascending and descending, and saying and playing the notes, repeat this process for all 6 strings.Make a special mental note of the location of all the identical notes, like the A note located on string 6, fret V is exactly the same note as the A note played as an open string 5. It may take quite a while for you to study amd memorize the diagram effectively.


One String Things

In order to memorize this material effectively, we will focus on one string at a time as is traditional in the world of guitar education. Below are six (one per string) interactive exercises designed to train your eyes and fingers to move quickly and effortlessly identify any note in the first position. Take your time with these animations into each one several times over the course of several days in order to receive maximum benefit. Of course, I believe if you want to play it, you should be able say it so I suggest you say the names of each know, out loud, as you play them.

Continue through these one string exercises slowly, thoughtfully and patiently. When you have done the training exercises interactively a number of times, make sure you can play each of these one string exercises purely by reading the traditional notation, (not the tab notation) and without relying on the recording to lead the way for you. When you can do that effortlessly automatically, you have completed the six training exercises.

More Music Making

Below is an arrangement of a famous study by the well-known classical guitarist, educator and author Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849) whose works and well known teachings are still being repackaged and sold today. In addition to being an complex performer and composer Aguado was a friend of Fernando Sor who commememorated the friendship in his work for guitar duet Les Deux Amis (“The Two Friends”), with one part marked Sorand the other Aguado.

My arrangement below has a few marketers for you to take special notice of. I have highlighted in green the repeat marks and the word ”fine”, which is the music work used to signify the end of the piece. Often in my career, when playing in big band, pit band are any other sight reading situation I use a highlighter on sections and parts of the music that I think might cause me a little confusion, such as endings and repeats. I have also marked the C# notes in the fifth measure, the second C sharp in the measure does not need an accidental symbol in front of it because the powers of an accidental are in effect for one full measure, the first accidental in that measure, placed before the C note controls all the rest of the C notes that will come in that measure -at the end of the measure the powers of that accidental are gone. As with all duets in this course, both parts should be well within your abilities and our scope of study -make sure you can play both parts of each and every duet perfectly.

End Of Lesson 10


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