Part 1



Reading Standard Musical Notation

We are going to look at notes and note values, we’ll learn the names and also how long the note lasts.

So what do we mean by how long the note lasts? This is the key to it all; being ‘in time’. People ask all the time what does it mean to be in time and how do you play in time. This is what we’ll cover now.

For all the notes we’ll be looking at in this course we’ll be in 4/4, this means there will be 4 beats in each bar of music. The best way to think about this is count 1234 1234 1234 1234 each group of numbers is a bar of music. A bar always adds up to 4 and each beat is the same duration.

Try counting in time with the seconds on your clock or anything that has a constant click. Using a metronome at this point is a great idea; press play on the one below and count in time with it. 1234 1234 1234 1234….



Now let’s look at note values or duration.

Semibreve (or whole note) this one lasts for 4 beats, the full bar. A semibreve would always be on the 1 beat of the bar and you’d hold it until the next bar.


Minim (or half note) this one lasts for 2 beats, you could have this one on the 1st beat and then on the 3rd beat. 2 minim beats would fit into a full bar.


Crotchet (or quarter note) this one lasts for 1 beat and you’d fit 4 of these in each bar.



This will give you a good understanding of reading note values and will help with timing. With most things when you first start, it seems like you are being bombarded with information, if it doesn’t all go in don’t worry too much. The more you play guitar the more this will become second nature. It’s a good idea to try and take this onboard but do some hands on playing then read through this again a few weeks down the line. Hopefully that will help unlock more knowledge and help put this theory into practice.