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Archive: COURSE OF STUDY OUTLINE
Written by Robert E. Keller, 1979

DIRECTIONS:

Following each number in capital letters, is the skill area the material deals with, then in normal print, what material to learn in order to master that skill. When you can play the material listed, go to Mr. Keller and play the material  for grade points. Then go on to the next number.

Each week material will be demonstrated in class, but you may learn as fast as you wish. If you need help, ask Mr. Keller, the teaching assistant (TA), or a student who has already covered the material.

  1. CLASS DESCRIPTION, EQUIPMENT NEEDED, PROTECTING YOUR GUITAR, BUYING A GUITAR:

    Read information sheet "Welcome to Guitar".

  2. HOW THE CLASS WORKS:

    Read information sheet "Class Guitar: An Introduction".

  3. LEARNING AT YOUR OWN SPEED:

    Read the information sheet you're reading, "Course of Study Outline". Keep it where you can always find it quickly.

  4. OBTAINING BOOKS:

    Check out Hal Leonard Bk. 1, Shearer Vol 1, and Basic Instructor guitar books.

  5. THE PARTS OF A GUITAR:

    Read Hal Leonard, Bk.1, p.2 bottom.
    Read Basic Instructor, p.2
    Read Shearer p.4

  6. CHECK FOR WARPED NECK, CHECK FOR TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW ACTION:

    Read Shearer p.5 and top of p.6

  7. TUNING THE GUITAR:

    Read the information sheet "Tuning The Guitar".

  8. HOLDING THE GUITAR, READING A CHORD FRAME, LEARNING YOUR FIRST BARRE CHORDS:

    Read the information sheet "Holding The Guitar".
    Practice E form barre chord.

  9. FINGERPICKING, CLASSIC GUITAR REST STROKE, MELODY PICKING:

    Read Shearer p.11-14. Practice the exercise p.14. Practice it daily for a month if necessary to get relaxed paint brush rest-strokes. Practice i m and m a. These pages are the key to good fingerpicking.

  10. HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PRACTICING:

    Use your voice to help your mind learn faster. Read Shearer, p.14, "Recommended Procedure for Practice" for three ways.

  11. MEANING OF THE WORD "PITCH", UNDERSTANDING NOTE READING:

    Read information sheet "Meaning of the word "Pitch", and "Understanding Note Reading".

  12. READING RHYTHM:

    In order to be able to read the rhythm of any song, including the more complicated rhythms found in rock music, check out the "Sight Singing Notebook". In addition to your working through this outline, do that part of the notebook covering rhythm reading (approximately the first two-thirds of the workbook).

  13. READING NOTES: STRINGS 1, 2 and OPEN

    Practice Shearer, p.15, "The First Three Open Strings".

  14. FINGERPICKING, CLASSIC GUITAR, THUMB FREE-STROKE:

    Read and practice Shearer, p. 16, "The Free-Stroke With the Thumb". Keep your thumb out away from your fingers (60o angle) and moving low just above the strings. Do not let the thumb bend at the first joint.

  15. READING NOTES: STRINGS 4, 5, and 6 OPEN.

    Practice Shearer, p.16-17, "The 4th, 5th, and 6th Open Strings".

  16. HOW TO GET A GOOD LEFT HAND:

    Read and apply Shearer, p.18 top, "The Left Hand".

  17. READING NOTES: E, F, & G ON THE FIRST STRING

    Practice Shearer, p.18 bottom and p. 19 top, "Notes on the E or 1st String". Practice both i m and m a. Practice Hal Leonard, pp.6-7.

  18. READING NOTES: B, C, & D ON THE SECOND STRING.

    Practice Shearer, p.19, "Notes on the B or 2nd String", "Notes on Both the E or 1st and B or 2nd Strings".

    Practice both i m and m a. Practice Hal Leonard, pp.8-10, i m and m a.


  19. READING NOTES: MORE 1st STRING E, F, G AND 2nd STRING B, C, D.

    Practice Shearer, p.20 until you can play both exercises with all the cautions at the bottom of the page accomplished. Then combine the two exercises into the Solo Guitar part (Roman Numeral I) of "Prelude No. 1", p.21. Notice there are three lines of Roman Numeral I before you reach the double measure bar indicating the end. Do not play the three lines for Roman Numeral II.


  20. READING NOTES: MORE 1st STRING E, F, G AND 2nd STRING B, C, D. From her on try very hard to keep your eyes on the music when reading notes. Do not look at your left or your right hand. That way your fingers can learn by feeling where the fret is (left hand) or where the string is (right hand). If you keep looking for the fret or string your brain will concentrate on what your eyes seee, mostly ignore what your fingers feel, and you will learn too slowly.

    Practice Shearer, p.21, Ex. 14

    Practice Shearer, p.22, 23, 24.

  21. READING CHORDS: D, A7, BRUSH STRUM.

    Read Basic Instructor, pp. 4-5, "Beginning Strum". This is a brush strum. The back of the hand should move very little and the forearm even less. The action should be in the fingers. Review "Chord Frames", p.5 bottom.

    Study p.6 "Key of D". First practice the D chord. Play one string at a time starting with the fourth string (D).

    Be sure that every string is getting a good tone. Do not play the 5th or 6th strings.

    Then practice the A7 chord. Play one string at a time starting with the fifth string (A). Again be sure that every string is playing with a good tone. Do not play the 6th string.

    Finally, practice going from D to A7 and back. Practice this over and over and over. Practice it without looking at your left hand. Make your fingers feel their way. Practice sometimes with one string at a time and sometimes with a brush strum.

    When you can go quickly and smoothly from one chord to the other and back, practice pp. 7-9.

    BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. It takes time to get chord changes really smooth. Practice your changes every day AND DON'T PEEK AT THE LEFT HAND.

  22. READING NOTES: G & A ON THE THIRD STRING, COUNTING WHOLE NOTES, HALF NOTES, QUARTER NOTES.

    Practice Basic Instructor, pp.68-69.

  23. READING NOTES: 3rd STRING G & A , 2nd STRING B, C, & D, 1st STRING E, F, & G. Practice Hal Leonard, pp.11-14.

    Practice Shearer, pp. 25-27 (Still do not practice the Roman Numeral II part).

  24. READING CHORDS: MORE D & A7, PRIMARY BASS, THUMB BRUSH.

    Study and practice Basic  Instructor, p.10 "Primary Bass", "Thumb Brush", but do not use a rest stroke with the thumb. Use a free stroke with the thumb as you have been doing in Shearer (p.16).

    Using the thumb brush, practice Basic Instructor pp.11-13. Notice that the primary bass or root of the chord that you playon the first beat of each measure has the same letter name as the chord that follows.

  25. BARRE CHORDS: E FORM.

    Remember to practice your E form barre chords daily. Read and practice the information sheet "A Beginning E form Barre Chord Exercise."

  26. READING RHYTHM:

    Remember, if you want to be able to read rhythm well, work on the material in your "Sight-Singing Notebook" at least three times a week.

  27. READING NOTES: MORE 3rd STRING G & A; 2nd STRING B, C, & D; DOTTED HALF NOTE; 3/4 METER SIGNATURE.

    Practice Basic Instructor pp.70-73.

  28. READING CHORDS: KEY OF D (D & A7), ADD G CHORD; BRUSH STRUM, THUMB BRUSH.

    Practice Basic Instructor pp.14-17.

  29. READING NOTES: MORE 3rd STRING G & A; 2nd STRING B, C, & D; 1st STRING E; EIGHTH NOTES; 2/4 TIME; REPEAT SIGN; DOTTED QUARTER.

    Practice Basic Instructor pp.74-77.

  30. READING CHORDS; I, IV, & V7 IN KEY OF D, COMMON PROGRESSIONS.

    Read information sheet "Basic Chords in First Position". On this sheet are grouped the three most common chords for each of seven often used key centers (key signatures) in guitar. In the key of D, practice changing from I (D) to IV (G) to I, from I to V7 (A7) to I, from IV to V7 to IV, from I to IV to V7 to I, and I to IV to I to V7 to I to IV to V7 to I.

    Use the different ways of practicing your chord progressions for the fastest and greatest learning. These are given on the information sheet "Learning Chord Progressions".

    Some of these ways to practice chord progressions have you play one string at a time. You can do these slowly to check BY FEEL, NOT BY SIGHT that your left hand fingers are playing close to higher pitched frets. The sound of each string will also tell you if you're pressing firmlyenough. Do not allow yourself to watch your chord progressions. Learn them better by learning them by touch and sound.

    Practice some chord progressions every night.

  31. READING NOTES: MORE 3rd STRING G & A, 2nd STRING B, C, & D, 1st STRING E, F, & G, TIE, QUARTER REST, DYNAMIC SIGNS, TEMPO MARKINGS.

    Practice Basic Instructor pp.78-80.

  32. READING CHORDS: KEY OF G (G & D7), THUMB SCRATCH (DOWN-UP STRUM).

    Practice Basic Instructor pp.18-21.   

  33. READING NOTES: HALF STEPS, WHOLE STEPS, & ACCIDENTALS.

    Moving one fret up or down the fingerboard is to move the distance of a half-step. Moving two frets is to move the distance of a whole step.

    By now you should know the letter names of all the notes on the top three stings. Knowing this allows you to learn your sharped and flatted notes when you practice Shearer, p.28.

    Remember, any E form barre chord has the same letter name as the E string note played on the fret the chord is barred on. To learn all your E form barre chords on the fingerboard, learn all your E string notes.

  34. READING CHORDS: KEY OF G (G & D7), ADD C CHORD.

    Read & practice Basic Instructor, p.22.

    Refer to your "Basic Chords in First Position" information sheet. Practice your three most important chords in the key of G the same way you did your chord progressions in the key of D.

    In the key of G your I chord is G, your IV chord is C, and your V7 chord is D7.

    Practice I to IV to I, I to V7 to I, IV to V7 to I, I to IV to V7 to I, and I to IV to I to V7 to I to IV to V7 to I.



    As you did and should still be doing in the key of D, practicing these progressions in the different ways given on the information sheet, "Learning chord Progressions".



    Remember to LEARN THEM BY FEEL, NOT BY SIGHT. Practice sometimes with your eyes shut.

  35. READING NOTES: EIGHTH NOTES.

    Read and practice Shearer, p.29.

  36. READING CHORDS: MORE KEY OF G (G, C, D).

    Practice Basic Instructor, pp. 23-25.

  37. FINGERPICKING, CLASSIC GUITAR FREE-STROKE:

    Read and practice Shearer, pp.30-31. This classic guitar free stroke is also the ideal stroke for fingerpicking accompaniment. If you want to fingerpick well, practice this until it flows smoothly, until the first joint of the finger is very relaxed, and until the back of your hand doesn't move.

  38. HOLDING THE GUITAR:

    Review information sheet "Holding The Guitar". Are you holding your guitar in your lap? Is your guitar neck up and are you using a guitar strap so that you can switch positions (e.g. running barre chords) quickly and easily? Is your left wrist forward and your fingers curved so that you can quickly and accurately change fingering without hitting adjacent strings? Is the ball of your thumb directly behind the middle finger and in the middle of the neck so that you have maximum strength with minimum effort in the left hand? Are your left hand fingers spread so that they are just behind each fret giving you the best possible tone? Is your left elbow relaxed and hanging down so that there is no tension building up in your left hand?



    If you can answer yes on all of these, congratulate yourself. You were careful to get it right when you started guitar and it will pay off more and more as you get better and better.



    If you had to answer "no" to any of the previous questions, you have some correcting to do. The sooner you do it the sooner you get the benefits of these best positions.

  39. FINGERPICKING, CLASSIC GUITAR FREE-STROKE ON ADJACENT STRINGS:

    Practice Shearer, p.32.

  40. READING CHORDS: ALTERNATE BASSES.

    Read information sheet, "Alternating Basses".



    Read and practice Basic Instructor, p.26.



    Re-play those songs listed at the bottom of p.26, this time using alternate basses.

  41. MORE FINGERPICKING, CLASSIC GUITAR FREE-STROKE:

    Practice Shearer, p.33-34.

  42. CHROMATIC SCALE EXERCISE, MORE FREE-STROKE:

    Read and practice Shearer, p.35 and top of p.36 through Prelude No.8.



    Say the letter names of the notes as you play them.

  43. READING CHORDS: MORE G, C, D7, D, A7 USING THUMB BRUSH AND ALTERNATE BASSES.

    Practice Basic Instructor, pp.27-29.

  44. ARPEGGIO (BROKEN CHORDS), MORE FREE STROKE:

    Read and practice Shearer from the middle of p.36 through p.37.

  45. GETTING A BETTER TONE QUALITY: CARE AND USE OF THE RIGHT-HAND NAILS.

    Read and put into practice Shearer, pp.38-39.

  46. FINGERPICKING SONGS:

    Check out a copy of Basic Sing Book. Before playing your first song, study the diagrams on pp.6 & 7 so you understand how the author of the book will indicate fingerpicking patterns and strums for each song. Notice that he will use tablature. The tablature staff looks like the staff standard notation uses BUT IT HAS SIX LINES INSTEAD OF FIVE AND THE WORD "TAB" OR A LARGE "T" AT THE BEGINNING INSTEAD OF A CLEF. Lines of the tablature staff represent guitar strings, not pitches.



    When possible, more interesting picks have been chosen. These are indicated for each song. Unless otherwise stated, the thumb will play the lower three strings, playing the primary bass where B1 is shown and an alternate bass where B2 is shown. The index finger (i) will play the third string, the middle finger (m) will play the second string, and the ring finger (r) will play the first string.

    Using this system, B1-i-m-r-B2-i- m/r -rest means that:
    • There are eight pulses to a measure. You know this because there are eight groupings. The r slash m counts as one group since they are written vertically. There are probably two pulses per beat, four beats to a measure. Check the time signature.
    • The eight groupings are played evenly, reading from left to right.
    • On the first pulse pluck the primary bass with your thumb.
    • On the second pulse pluck the third string with your index finger.
    • On the third pulse pluck the second string with your middle finger.
    • On the fourth pulse pluck the first string with your ring finger.
    • On the fifth pulse, if the chord changes, start the pick from the beginning again. If the chord doesn't change, pluck an alternate bass with your thumb.
    • On the sixth pulse, pluck the third string with your index finger.
    • On the seventh pulse, pluck the second string with your middle finger and, at the same time, pluck the first string with your ring finger.
    • On the eigth pulse, the symbol is an eighth rest, so play nothing.




  47. FINGERPICKING SONGS: KEY OF G, EASY, ARPEGGIO CLINCH, MORE METER SIGNATURES, MORE TEMPO MARKINGS.

    Look at Basic Sing, p.22, "A Bicycle Built For Two". The meter signature (time signature) at the beginning of the song is 3/4. That means there are three beats to a measure and one beat per quarter note (two for a half, three for a dotted half, etc.).



    The tempo (speed) of the song is indicated by the words "Moderate Waltz tempo" at the beginning of the music. Moderate means medium, but a walt is a somewhat fast, twirling dance. Care should be taken that the song is neither dragged nor rushed.

  48. REVIEW NO. 37 OF YOUR "COURSE OF STUDY OUTLINE".

    Equally important, move your right forearm so that there is more or less of it below the left hand edge of your guitar. Most people will need less.



    You want your fingers to just reach the strings, plucking them parallel to the face of the guitar. If too much forearm is over the edge of the guitar, you fingers will hook under the strings producing a harsh tone.



    Now practice the song, "Bicycle Built For Two". Use the strum suggested at the top of the page. If you have done your free-stroke practicing carefully, you will have a relaxed, b pluck both in the thumb and the fingers. Your fingers will be loose in the last joint and collapse as they pluck the strings. The pluck of both fingers and thumb will be absolutely parallel to the face of the guitar. Your tone will be full, loud, and clear. The back of your hand will be relaxed and unmoving. And, you will enjoy how good you sound.

  49. READING NOTES: 4th STRING D, E, AND F.

    Practice Hal Leonard pp. 18-19.



    Practice Shearer pp. 40-43 through Prelude 10a. Say names of notes out loud as you play.

  50. FINGERPICKING SONGS: KEY OF D, EASY, ARPEGGIO PICK., ALTERNATING BASSES.

    Look at Basic Sing, p.20, "Beautiful Brown Eyes". The meter signature (time signature) at the beginning of the song is 3/4. That means there are three beats to a measure and the quarter note gets one beat (half note gets two beats, dotted half note gets three beats, etc.)



    The tempo (speed) of the song is indicated by the word "Moderato" above the beginning of the music. Moderato is a medium tempo, not too fast, not too slow.



    Instead of the pick shown in your book, use B1-i-m-r-m-i-B2-i-m-r-m-i. This pick will give a more flowing sound.



    Notice that the pick covers two measures. As long as the chord stays the same for two measures, you can use the pick as shown, starting the second measure with an alternate bass. Where the chord does change after one measure, start the pick from the beginning for the new chord.



    Take the usual care that your fingerpicking is a relaxed freestroke and that you are not hooking under the strings.

  51. BARRE CHORDS: E-FORM

    Remember, if you want to be able to play barre chords well, review your left hand and arm position as covered in information sheet #8, "Holding Your Guitar", then practice the exercise given on information sheet #25 everyday.

  52. READING NOTES AND CHORDS: MORE 4th STRING D, E, F: D7 CHORD; TIES.

    Read and practice Hal Leonard pp.20-23.

  53. READING CHORDS: KEY OF A (A, E7).

    Practice chord changes in Basic Instructor, pp.30-31. Use fingering that are best for you. Which  fingerings transport (make changes) best?

  54. FINGERPICKING SONGS: KEY OF D (D, G, A7), FAST ARPEGGIO CLINCH, ALTERNATE BASSES, OPTIONAL FULL PINCH.

    Look at Basic Sing, p.28, "The Blue Tail Fly". The meter signature is 4/4. That means there are four beats to a measure and a quarter note gets one beat (half note gets two beats, dotted half note gets three beats, whole note gets four beats, eighth note gets one-half of a beat).



    The tempo (speed) of the song is indicated by the word "Freely" above the music at the beginning (the verse) and the words "with a beat" at the middle (the chorus).



    You could play this song with a steady, b, slightly fast beat all the way through. It will be more interesting if you take only the chorus that way. Play the verse with great freedom (freely), trying to use a rhythm and tempo that help the words sound as if you're saying them naturally, as if you're just telling a story. The verse consists of four phrases or sentences.



    Use a full pinch for the verse, that is your thumb will free stroke in one direction while your fingers free stroke in the other direction, kind of like pulling (drawing) two bow strings and releasing them. Use one or two pinches per measure, whatever you feel fits best.



    Use an arpeggio clinch, B1-i- m/r -i-B2-i- m/r -i, for the chorus. This pick covers one measure and allows for an alternate bass on the third beat of each measure. There are no chord changes in the middle of a measure. There are no chord changes in the middle of a measure. Use a b bass and keep the pick absolutely steady; do not rush it.

  55. READING NOTES: HALF-STEPS ON THE 4th STRING.

    Practice Shearer, p.43, bottom. Say the names of the notes out loud as you play them. Keep all left hand fingers down as long as possible.

  56. READING CHORDS: MORE KEY OF A (A, D, E7).

    Refer to your "Basic Chords in First Position" information sheet. Practice your three most important chords in the key of A the same way you did you chord progressions in the key of D and the key of G. 

    In the key of A your I chord is A, your IV chord is D, your V7 chord is E7.



    Practice I to IV to I, I to V7 to I, IV to V7 to I, I to IV to V7 to I, and I to IV to I to V7 to I to IV to V7 to I.



    As you did and should still be doing in the key of G, practice these progressions in the different ways given on the information sheet, "Learning Chord Progressions".

    Some of these ways to practice chord progressions have you play one string at a time. You can do these slowly to check BY FEEL, NOT BY SIGHT that your left hand fingers are playing close to the higher pitched frets. The sound of each string will also tell you if you're pressing firmly enough.

    Watch your hands as little as possible. Of course, you need to check a chord or finger position once in a while, but the more you watch your hands, the slower you learn. The less you look at your hands, the more you force your hands and fingers to learn by feel and by position. In the long run, this is the faster way.

    For real concentration and in order to hear better, sometimes practice with your eyes shut.

    Practice some chord progressions every night.

  57. FINGERPICKING SONGS: KEY OF D (D, G, A7) FAST ARPEGGIO, ALTERNATE BASSES.

    Lookat Basic Sing, pp.114-115, "The Fighting Side of Me".

    The meter signature at the of the song is 4/4. That means that there are four beats to a measure and a quarter note lasts one beat (half note lasts two beats, dotted half note lasts three beats, etc.).

    The tempo marking is Moderato, a medium tempo, a little faster than a slow walk.

    Notice that the shortest note in the melody is a quarter note. Notice there are a lot of quarter notes, a lot of repeated notes, and the melody moves mostly by step and mostly downward. Conclusion: the melody is not interesting.
 
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