Supplemental Material for Page 7 (Chapter 1)
3/4 time; the dotted half note
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Related audio: CD Track 2 (Tuning Notes); Track 7(i(Audio for Page 7)
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General info about page 7:
For the vast majority of students, page 7 is much, much easier than pages 2, 4, or 6, which require the left hand to make quick, clean chord changes. Assuming you can play page 5 reasonably well, page 7 shouldn't present much trouble for the right hand, either. Therefore, I recommend practicing the exercises on page 7 only as much as necessary. However, some beginners struggle with right-hand technique, and there's no shame in needing to spend some extra time on these exercises.
About 3/4 time:
This page introduces 3/4 time, where there are 3 beats per measure, instead of the more common 4 beats per measure. In fact, 4/4 time is so common it is often simply called "common time"; 3/4 time is used in waltzes, so it's sometimes called "waltz time". Remember that each beat is of equal value; do not hold any one beat longer or shorter than another. The most common mistake beginners make in 3/4 is to pause after the third beat (before the new "one" of the next measure), effectively turning it back into 4/4. Be sure to count evenly, like so:
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3
1, 2, 3, (_), 1, 2, 3, (_), 1, 2, 3, (_)
Also, beat one is traditionally the "strong" beat, so it is almost always given a bit of an accent in 3/4:
ONE, two, three, ONE, two, three, ONE, two, three...
To give a nice accent, simply strum beat 1 a bit harder (not too hard!). Even better is an inverse approach: strum beat 1 as you normally would, and strike beats 2 & 3 with a lighter touch.
Be sure to count evenly, and refer to the CD that came with your book (track 7), or the audio file here.
A reminder 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.
About dotted notes (and dotted rests):
A dot after a note increases it's value. (More details, in case you're interested, are posted below.) Simply put, a dotted half note gets 3 beats (whereas a "regular" half note gets 2 beats). Dots can be applied to rests in exactly the same way, so a dotted half rest gets 3 beats of rest.
The whole rest in 3/4 time:
A whole rest does not necessarily mean 4 beats of rest. More accurately, a whole rest indicates one full measure of rest in any time signature. So in 3/4 time, it calls for 3 beats of rest. (This happens in ex. 9.) Note that the dotted half rest is the most common way of indicating a full measure of rest in 3/4, but it's good to be aware of how the whole rest functions, as it is perfectly acceptable.
About the exercises:
The top of the page introduces the dotted half note. It is shown with a repeat sign, so it may be practiced at first, but this is so simple that it is not actually included as an exercise for sustained practice.
Exercises 1-4 are all commonly used in 3/4 time. Number 1 is simple quarter notes. Numbers 2-4 utilize eighth notes. If you are not changing from one chord to another, these are all of about an equal level of difficulty. However, if you're changing chords, number 3 is easier than 2 & 4. Why? Because exercises 2 & 4 play eighth notes on beat 3, leaving less time to switch to the next chord. Examples 1 and 3 end with quarter notes, allowing you, perhaps, to use some of the "and" of beat 3 (where that last eighth note would be) to get a head start on the chord switch.
Exercises 5-8 offer examples of the dotted half note in 4/4 time. If you're unsure about how they should go, use your CD or the audio file here. I actually don't recommend practicing these much; they're really easy.
Teachers may opt not to assign exercise 9 if they don't feel the student is prepared to work on rests.
Also, as noted above, this exercise uses the whole rest in 3/4 time. remember that a whole rest does not necessarily indicate 4 beats of rest. It actually indicates one full measure of rest in any time signature. So in 3/4 time (as in ex. 9), the whole rest means 3 beats of rest.
Exercise 10 is the Beatles' "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away". Select any of the strums 1-4 from the top part of the page, and use it to play exercise 10.
Disclaimer about strumming:
I know I've mentioned this on every page regarding strumming, but here it is again: 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, so your wrist may have some slight "bounce" or "play" in it in the up/down direction, but 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.
Try mixing and matching random combinations of strums 1-4; this is what typically happens as you play real songs in 3/4 time. To avoid sounding overly repetitive, you may change the strumming pattern from one measure to another. (Remember that a "measure" is the amount of space on the staff divided up by the lines called bar lines. When you come to the bar line at the end of a measure, it's a reminder to start counting at beat "1" again. In 4/4 time there is always 4 beats per measure; in 3/4 time always 3 beats. Exercises 1-8 are one-measure patterns designed to be practice over & over without pausing in between; exercise 9 is eight measures long, while number 10 is eight measures with an additional measure included as an ending.)
You may, of course, pencil in additional chord changes to exercise 9.
Try this: Pick a combination of strums 1-4, and use it to play exercise 10. For example, you may play strum #1 in the first measure of ex. 10; strum #2 in the second measure, etc. Plan out various combinations. then try playing a "random" mix, without planning it out before hand.
In case you're interested, a word about the "dot":
A dot placed after a note or a rest increases the value by 50%. This page introduces the dotted half note. It gets three beats because a half note gets two beats and the dot adds another 50%: Half of 2 is 1, and 2 + 1 = 3.
(In theory, notes or rests of any value may be dotted; later you'll learn that dotted quarter notes get a beat and a half, while dotted eighths get three quarters of a beat.)
The dotted half rest gets 3 beats of rest. (A dotted quarter rest gets a beat and a half of rest.)
Don't confuse a dot after a note with with a dot above or below a note. A dot above or below a note is called a "staccato mark". The staccato mark means cut the note short, without letting it ring for its full time value. Although the staccato mark is not introduced in Sensible Guitar, it is a commonly used, so it's good to be aware of.
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