Supplemental Material for Page 5 (Chapter 1)
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Related audio: CD Track 2 (Tuning Notes); Track 6 (Audio for Page 5)
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General info about page 5:
For the vast majority of students, page 5 is much, much easier than pages 2 and 4. Therefore, I recommend practicing the exercises on page 5 only as much as necessary. However, this page will probably require a bit more attention than page 3.
About "upward" strums:
Upward strums (as a general rule) do not need to include all of the available strings. Letting the "ups" hit only the top few strings (like strings 1, 2, & 3) is ample. Even if an upward strum only gets the first string, that's OK. Be sure to practice these strums using the D chord, so you can work on omitting the 5th and 6th strings. This isn't so tough using downward strums (you'll get used to starting the strum on the fourth string), but the ups may need a bit of work. It would be difficult for the upward strumming motion to hit strings 1-4, omit 5 & 6, and still have a nice, relaxed follow through. Let the ups hit just the top 1, 2, or 3 strings. This also creates a nice natural accent on the downs (traditionally the "strong" beats), and a lighter sound on the "weaker" up beats.
About exercise 4:
This one is especially important. You should be able to play this comfortably over & over with a nice, smooth, flowing sound before moving on to pages 7 and 9. Strum #1 on page 9 is a variation on this exercise, and is very, very commonly used. You'll need to be very comfortable with this (pg 5, #4) before proceeding.
A few reminders:
Refer to track 6 on the CD (or the audio file here) if you wish to hear these exercises.
For exercises 1-4, be sure to play a chord with your left hand; don't just strum the open strings of the guitar. (Exercises 5 & 6 ask for an E chord.)
Developing good right-hand technique is critical. Not all teachers agree on the best way to strum the guitar; there's more than one "correct" way. My recommendation (which I discuss in detail here and here) is basically to keep your right wrist straight as you play. Stay loose & relaxed, and be sure not to bend the wrist inward toward the guitar.
In case of poor strumming technique:
Do spend lots of time on this page if there's a problem with the right hand technique. Bad habits can be tough to break, so these simple rhythms must be practiced repeatedly using proper form to "unlearn" an ill-advised manner of strumming.
Regarding exercise 6:
I often skip this one with younger beginners. If the technique of "resting" (dampening the strings with the side of the right hand) is clumsy for a youngster, it's really no big deal. Skip it, move on, and come back later.
Conversely, I have found exercise 6 especially helpful for some students who tend to bend their wrists inward. The act of "resting" is often naturally done with better technique, as students straighten out the wrist to dampen the strings with their hand. They can then be advised to strum with the same hand/wrist/arm position with which they "rest".
Try writing in additional chord changes above the staff for any of the exercises. Use various combinations of the A, D, and E chords, and (when they're up to speed), the G and C. Use pencil, so you can erase and create new combinations. Later, as more chords are learned, review this page, incorporating the newer chords.
Apply these rhythms (or other combinations of half notes, quarter notes, and quarter rests) to exercises 1-4 on page 2, and later, the exercises on pages 4, 6, & 10.
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