Finding Your Way Reading Music

By Lila Karash, Teacher & Local Singer Songwriter

When you're practicing a song, do you often lose track of where you are  on the page because you are looking down at your hands? This is something that happens often for beginners. When the majority of your focus is on the technical part of playing guitar, it's easy to lose sight of the song as a whole. You might completely filter out the lyrics even if someone is singing them right in the same room. Once your chord changing and strumming start to feel more natural, you can begin to focus more on the song itself.

The best way to keep track of where you are in the song (if it has lyrics), is to sing it while you play it. As the melody changes, you will get a sense of how the chords change with the melody. Even if you don't like to sing, you can at least try to at home when no one is around, or if not, then hum or even think the tune in your head. Memorizing the song is also a good idea so that you don't have to keep looking back and forth between the paper and your hands.

Even experienced players lose their place sometimes. If you are playing with other people and you get lost, listening to the people around you will help you find your way back. Try to pick up on vocal cues or distinct riffs. Sometimes the whole band gets lost when one person's mistake throws everything off. Sometimes the whole song stops, but often someone takes the leading role by continuing to play and and everyone else jumps back in, and the audience doesn't even know the band made a mistake. In fact, some mistakes can come out sounding pretty cool by accident. There's an old saying: If you make a mistake, play it again a second time as if you meant to do it on purpose, and no one will know it was a mistake.

November 29, 2020 — Carrie Bell

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