Don’t be intimidated by standard rhythm symbols. There are really only 5 main symbols you need to remember at the beginning. The whole-note, half-note, quarter-note, eighth-note and sixteenth-note are the most common rhythmic divisions. Learn to recognize these quickly and you’re set for most songs.

The textbook definition of time signatures is “the top number shows how many beats are in each measure, while the bottom number is the type of note that gets one beat.” This is a perfect explanation, but sometimes not very helpful when we’re trying to understand the relationship between time signatures, or trying to get up and running with time signatures quickly. Here we give you a quicker definition that’s a bit more practical.

Understanding and reading rhythms can sometimes be a daunting prospect, but there are a couple different illustrations that make everything clean and clear. In this video, we divide up a pie to show how time fits in each measure.

Now we discuss a few pitfalls to avoid when encountering a typical chord/lyric sheet. Make sure not to change the rhythm of either the lyrics or the independent guitar part. Also, it is important to feel free to add your own flavor to the song and not interpret the music as flatly as it’s laid out on the page.

We use a lyric/chord sheet for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to learn what to do when you’re looking at a standard chord sheet.

We now take the elevator up and start thinking about songs as songs, rather than thinking on the basic level of chord shapes, progressions, rhythms, measures, techniques, etc.
Our first main principle is that playing at the higher song level will be MUCH easier if all the appropriate reflexes and mechanics have been developed.

Here, I’ll show you how to read a basic chord chart with slash/rhythm notation. Reading a chord chart is essential in your development, but it’s not difficult and you can get the hang of it fairly quickly. You’ll be seeing more and more of these chord charts the more you play guitar, and soon you’ll get good at writing your own!