Learning to Read Music Step 5: Playing Simple Melodies


Once you have a feel for how the musical staff works, and you have worked with some basic scales, it’s time to try a few simple melodies.

Not chording to familiar tunes. That will come soon enough (and no doubt are already doing it). What we’re talking about here is playing some simple songs from the written music.

This is not supposed to be playing “by ear”. That’s an extremely valuable skill to learn as you go along. But in this segment we want to learn how to play from traditional written music.

Like most other beginning guitar players you’ll want to start with some fairly simple melodies. One that many people seem to learn is Ode to Joy. It’s fairly easy because just everybody knows it and it goes up and down the scale in a very familiar way.

Ode to Joy

Here’s another couple of easy melodies: Amazing Grace and the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah


These arrangements are especially for beginning guitar players. They include the name of the note when it first appears, and how it is fingered.

Of course there are always nursery rhymes like Three Blind Mice, and well-known patriotic and classic western songs (Home on the Range, for example).

Well known special event and seasonal songs like Happy Birthday and Jingle Bells work too.

A lot of current and recently popular songs are also surprisingly simple. Like the songs Budapest and Havana, for example.


The fact is, with resources these exercises and songs for new guitar players, you should be “reading” like a pro in no time!

Have fun!

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