Approach to the Beat

If we consider the beat to be the definitive time keeper for a piece of music we can play slightly ahead of the beat, on the beat, or slightly behind the beat. For hoedown music the thing to do is play right on the beat, sometimes called “hitting it on top”. For waltz or two-step music it can be appropriate to play slighlty behind the beat. Two-steps often “swing” the beat by playing behind it. Syncopation Some music is more danceable than others. Old time hoedown music is all about dancing. Most dance music, both past and present, relies on … Continue reading Approach to the Beat

How to Keep Time

There are different ways to keep time. It is important to develop a reliable technique for keeping time that you can use in a variety of situations. Patting a foot is a standard method for keeping time. My grandpa used to say, “When you get both feet pattin’, then your really doin’ it.” Some people rely on chewing gum to keep time. If you are playing with a group it may be important to watch the other members of the group to stay on the beat. In a situation where dancers are present it may be helpful to watch the … Continue reading How to Keep Time

How to Play Chords

Playing chords is one of the greatest challenges to the beginning guitar player. Getting all of your fingers to work together to form a chord in which all the notes sound clearly takes practice and patience. It helps to start with an easy chord such as the G major or the D major. If the guitar feels too big for the reach of your fretting hand try using a capo up the neck, this will allow you to work in a position where the frets are closer together and easier to reach. After you have succeeded in making one chord … Continue reading How to Play Chords