Question Regarding New York Guitar Method Ensemble Book 1

Question Regarding New York Guitar Method Ensemble Book 1

Question Regarding New York Guitar Method Ensemble Book 1

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Question Regarding New York Guitar Method Ensemble Book 1

Q: I’ve been slowly working my way through the New York Guitar Method Ensemble Book One. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the Single String Studies on page 20, and rhythm exercise 1 on page 16.

I’m having a pretty rough time with the eighth note exercise on page 17 and the sixteenth note exercise on page 18. I’m struggling to visually track the rhythm to recognize where the metronome pulses align with the rhythm. I’m easily thrown by tied notes and ties across bars. I’m getting good traction in the Rhythm Ear Training course in recognizing rhythms by ear, but have not spent much time working from the Rhythm Ear Training PDF to try and play the shorter rhythm phrases.

I see a few different ways that I might try to break this down so that I can get some traction, but I’m not sure if some options could be counter-productive to my goal of being able to sight read. In other words, I don’t want to develop any bad habits, but I really want to get past this hurdle.

Should I…

  • Take the rhythm exercises in NYGME and mark them up with annotations for the beat counts?
  • Slow the metronome way down?
  • Try different combinations that beeping on the 2 and 4 (for the eighth note exercise)?
  • Try to break down the exercises into one bar, two bar, three bar, and four bar phrases (building up to longer phrases)?
  • Do some remedial rhythm reading work in another book or with the Rhythm Ear Training PDFs?

I’m starting to get frustrated with myself since I’m stuck in the first chapter of the book.

I definitely need to tighten up my rhythm, but I’ve got a decent ear, I’ve been working at my musicianship diligently for the past four years, and am play bass in two gigging bands. I know that I can do this, but am feeling a bit stuck.

For me reading rhythm feels like the hard part… I have a much easier time visually recognizing the pitches and chords on the staff.

I welcome your suggestions and expert guidance on getting unstuck.

A: Great to hear from you with all your good questions.

  • 1. If you have a rhythm that you don’t understand you certainly should break it down and play it REALLY slow until you understand it then speed it up. BUT the trick is once it gets to a tempo that you feel comfortable you should just listening and memorizing the sound. Where is that point? You will learn over time. But remember all rhythms you don’t know slow them down subdivide them until you understand them. Especially 16th notes. You want to get so you can do
    • 1 e and ah
    • 2 e and ah
    • 3 e and ah
    • 4 e and ah

    In you head and then only tap or play the notes you need for each rhythm

  • 2. If you don’t understand an eighth note rhythm again slow it down and say:
    • 1 and
    • 2 and
    • 3 and
    • 4 and

    and tap or play the notes of the rhythm. Once you know the rhythm or a page of rhythms you can start putting the metronome on 1 and 3 then try 2 and 4 and then try just one beat per measure.

  • 3. If the eighth note and sixteenth note rhythms are really taking a long time then I think we need to do some remedial work by going through the New York Guitar Method Ensemble Book One and just doing the 1st rhythm exercise in each chapter. Then coming back second time through and tackling the eighth note and sixteenth note rhythms. Many people play through that book many times. I know for myself because I’ve taught many years with it I’ve been through it about 15 times. But most students go through it at least twice to either learn it in pieces or to speed up the exercises.
  • 4. Certainly if you are feeling stuck you should do what I mentioned in #3. If that is still frustrating then we need to go back and work on Rhythm Primer to prepare you for the New York Guitar Method Ensemble Book One, NYGMEV1
  • 5. You could also do some remedial reading with the Rhythm Ear Training, RET PDF’s. Basically you have to get so you start to recognize some of the these rhythms and that takes time. So take heart it’s not you that is the problem it just takes some patience breaking things down into simple bit size chunks and a lot of patience. But remember always check in and get my opinion every week or two until you know you are on the right path. That is important.


So give me some feedback and let’s keep working on this until we get you plowing ahead with good progress.

Happy Holidays


It is also recommended that you read Bruce Arnold’s Blog at his artist site. It contains more discussion of the musical topics found in these FAQs as well as other subjects of interest. You will also find the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located here which shows you the historic significance of the music education products found on the Muse Eek Publishing Company Website.

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