Hi this is Jim at Make Guitar Music. I’m going to spend a few minutes browsing through the book, A Modern Method for Guitar, Volume 1, by William Leavitt.
This video accompanies a written review at Make Guitar Music Dot Com. If you’re watching this video from another site, I invite you to visit Make Guitar Music to read the entire review. The website’s URL will appear at the end of this video.
This is a level one book, suitable for a beginner. Ideally a beginner who knows the basics of picking, strumming and reading chord diagrams.
This method from Berklee Press is (or at least was) the method book used at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
As the author states in the introduction, the book is designed to accomplish two things: One, to teach the student to read music. And, two, for the gradual development of dexterity in both hands.
The musical exercises in this book were composed by William Leavitt so that it is tailor made for the exercise he wants to get across.
He adds that he intentionally didn’t include any “old favorites,” because you can’t learn to read from melodies that are familiar to you.
The book is dense at 128 pages. A student could easily spend a year or more working through this book.
It’s broken down in two sections. Section one is devoted to learning and playing in the first (or open) position. Section two, which starts at about the half-way point of the book, gets into playing and reading notes in the second position – where the fret hand is moved up the neck so that the index finger is positioned at the second fret.
Likewise the second section introduces movable barre chords.
Section one starts off with a really brief explanation of the basics. Leavitt doesn’t spend much time on the fundamentals.
The book introduces the notes in first position.
Unlike some method books which really hold your hand and walk you through the notes string by string. Leavitt introduces the notes on strings 2, 3, 4 and 5. So this book continues it’s rather quick pace. It moves forward faster than, some method books, such as Mel Bay’s Method.
Leavitt also introduces the idea of holding down single notes to form a simple triad chord.
At exercise 5, the open E at the first string is introduced, and the exercises continue progressively, combining both single notes and triads.
At page 11 Leavitt introduces rhythm accompaniment, with quarter-note strumming of four-note chords: C, F, and G7.
At exercise 9, the low-E sixth string is introduced, so the students will be working with all six strings at this point.
The book progresses in a logical manner. Introducing…
Sharps and Flats and the chromatic scale….
Bass – Rhythm accompaniment…
Rests, Tied Notes, Dotted Notes…
And as you may notice, the exercises are building in complexity…
Sixteenth notes are introduced…
There are some scale studies included…
Here’s an interesting exercise, called an Endurance Etude. The student holds down the fourth finger, as a pedal tone throughout a lengthy, two-page exercise…
Section one, concludes with an introduction to moveable barre chords, which will come into play as section two, moves into second-position studies.
Section two introduces playing, and reading the notes from the second position – with the fretting index finger positioned at the second fret. So the students will shift their perspective and in a sense relearn reading from this position. Notes that were played with the second finger, will now be played by the first finger, and so on.
And other than that, the book is more of the same in section 2, loaded with exercises that progress in complexity throughout the book.
As you can probably tell, this book is dense and loaded with exercises. I feel that the book accomplishes its goals. Students who work through this book will be good readers at both first and second positions.
Likewise, the student will certainly build up all the manual dexterity and strength needed to play any intermediate to advanced materials.
One thing that I find separates this book from many other methods is the pace. It does go a bit faster.
I could easily recommend this book for a student of any level who is serious about learning to read music. This would be particularly suitable for an experienced guitarist who either never got around to reading music, or one who wants to get better at reading notes.
You’ll definitely be spending some time with this book if you decide to work through it.
That’s it for now.
Thanks for watching. Til the next time, pick up your guitar and make some music.