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Stumbling Toward Competence

Learning to read standard notation

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Not difficult.

I learned to do it as a child, and now I am being pushed by Mike Marshall to do it again. How I have gone about it.

  1. Drill on the flash cards on Mandozine.com
  2. Did the first couple of exercises in Marylinn Mair's book.
  3. Picked a simple tune from the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Point 1: teaches you the notes on the staff (if you don't already know them from Every Good Boys Deserve Fudge type mnemonics) and more importantly where they lay on the fretboard.

Point 2: reinforces the notes on the fretboard and their relationship to the staff, focusing on a string by string basis

Point 3: pick a SIMPLE tune you otherwise don't know well. I picked Angeline the Baker, mostly because it was one of the first I stumbled across. First bit of fumbling sounded wrong, until I remembered the KEY SIGNATURE--D Major takes a sharp C and F (you don't actually have to memorize this, the key signature tells you which notes are sharp or flat). I also had a minor "whoa" moment over a dotted half note (takes an additional half value, which in 4/4 time means 3 beats). After 15 minutes, I had the rudiments down! Then I went to Youtube to see how close I managed to get it.


Perfect match! Ha, well, it was recognizably the same tune. Today's practice ironed it out and got it up to around 60 or 70 bpm (2/4). The clincher? That is not much longer than it takes to get a new tune with tab!

In other words, do not fear the standard. Its like tab, just a little differently arranged. And it opens up soooooo much music...

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