Intro to the Major Diatonic Scale

The major diatonic scale is the most well-known scale in Western music. It is made of eight notes (including the repeated octave) with the interval arrangement of whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. This scale is sung with the syllables do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do in the solfège method. The major diatonic […]

Building with Half & Whole Steps

Kids love to play with building blocks. Their various shapes, sizes and colors can be combined to build almost anything the imagination can dream up. Some blocks are small while others are large… all of the sizes are important. Music is made of building blocks, too. The smallest building block in Western music is called […]

Rhythm Guitar & Lead Guitar Defined

The guitar can be played two different ways – as a lead instrument or as a rhythm instrument. When playing a solo, an intro or a riff that stands out from the rest of the music, the guitar is being played as a lead instrument. When playing lead guitar, the guitarist is using scales, inverted power chords and stylistic techniques. […]

Intro to Note Time Values

Whole note = four beats Half note = two beats Quarter note = one beat Eighth note = 1/2 a beat Sixteenth note = 1/4 a beat

Tonic Notes, Bass Notes and Inverted Chords

Tonic note = note that gives its name to the chord; foundational pitch upon which the chord is built Bass note = lowest note in the chord The tonic note will never change and often serves as the bass note in the chord. However, the chord can be built where a note other than the […]

Skills, Concepts & Vocabulary

You’ve heard it before… the tired, old analogy of the three-legged stool. You know, the three things that MUST be equally developed or something of significance (like your health, marriage, business, etc) will be out of balance. I’m not going to dig up that old illustration. Nope… no stools here. Just drum thrones! Conveniently, drum […]

Intro to Standard Notation for Guitar

This is lesson 1 of “A Guide to Leavitt’s ‘A Modern Method for Guitar’” by Parents often ask, “Will my child learn to read music for guitar?” What they’re really asking is, “Will my student get a well-rounded musical education and become a real musician, not just a guitar player?” Students, on the other […]

Quit-Proof Your Goals

I had a friend in high school who was emphatic that he could not learn to play the guitar. “I tried to play. My fingers can’t handle it.” Years later I heard that he had built a home studio and was recording original music – and playing the guitar! When I asked what caused this […]

Getting Started with Barre Chords

For most guitarists, learning to play barre chords is a rite of passage from the beginner level to the land of intermediate guitar playing. These chord forms are very handy because they are 100% moveable. They are based off of open chord shapes and allow access to a huge variety of chords by memorizing a […]

Down Beat, Up Beat & Back Beat

In 1957, Chuck Berry wrote a song that defined a brand new style of music. A rhythm & blues musician, Berry was at the forefront of this musical revolution and he told the world about it: Just let me hear that rock & roll music Any old way you choose it It’s got a back […]

3 Introductory Picking Styles

Acoustic guitar players typically break down into two groups: strummers and pickers. Their playing preferences are pretty self-explanatory. Strummers like big, ringy chords. They want the acoustic guitar to fill the room with notes. Pickers like to arpeggiate chords, pulling out notes and putting together little licks and partial chords to embellish their playing. When […]

How to Read Guitar Tablature

Guitar tablature is a graphic representation of where to play musical notes on the neck of the guitar. It is a popular format for guitar music among lead style guitar players. Though it is somewhat easy to read, it is limited in the information it gives compared to other methods for writing guitar music. Lines […]

Mary Had a Little Lamb

In the early 1800s, a little girl named Mary Sawyer was followed to school by her pet lamb. A young man named John Roulstone witnessed the incident an wrote a poem about it, which was published in 1830 by Sara Josepha Hale. It has become one of the world’s most loved nursery rhymes and an […]

Standard Notation, Fake Sheets and Tablature for Guitar

Guitar music is typically written in one of three formats: standard notation, fake sheets (also called chord sheets) or tablature. Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages. Standard notation: the most information, the hardest to read. Standard notation gives the most detailed musical information of the three formats, utilizing the five-line staff, key signatures, […]

Happy Birthday quotes the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records as identifying “Happy Birthday” as “the most recognized song in the English language”. It is probably the most well-known song in three-four time. A simple three-chord song using I, IV and V, “Happy Birthday” is an easy learn that can be pulled out over and over […]