Here’s another entry from our awesome San Diego Guitar Teacher Jason M:
Q: Jason, I’m in Paris right now and won’t be back until August but I want to learn how read music and be able to play a song I’ve never heard before just from the sheet. For now, do you have any exercises I can do so I don’t lose dexterity?
A: Thanks Max, a great rut to get out of is the tablature rut and being able to sight-read music is a feature that a lot of people end up getting hung up on. A great way to start off is to block out any tablature that you see attached to a regular five line staff (typically in older Guitar Magazines) and then look at the notes in place. Starting off, you’ll want to learn the diad and major shape. A major shape is simple, it’s just three notes located directly on top of each other. If you see notes scattered around the ledger lines check and see if it matches the (1,3,5) Major or (1,b3,5) pattern throughout. Just because there are six notes on the staff doesn’t mean there are six different notes you have to play. Usually it’s just a simple chord shape. Picking up the Circle of 5ths is the next step in learning what are called Key signatures.
As for dexterity, if you would like a variation on the “chromatic scale” there are versions that I like to use. Instead of first middle ring pinkie, try first ring middle pinkie, or first pinkie, ring middle. Another trick you can try is a chord exercise where you make a chord and then shift one finger of that chord at a time. For example, make a D chord in 5th position, then slide it back to the 4th fret leaving the rest of the chord in place. Or you can make a D chord in 5th position and bring back your ring finger back or forward on fret. One last one would be to keep your chord in place and just let your pinkie wander around a bit while you’re finger picking. That should keep you up to speed… plus a constant switching from a major to a minor diad shape into a power chord should be enough to keep you busy for now.
Rock out man, let me know if you have anymore questions.