Below is the lesson for “Puff, the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary.
Learn to play this iconic melody twice! Once fingerpicked and once strummed. What’s great about this arrangement, is that once you learn the first melody (which is fingerpicked), the second melody (which is strummed) falls right to hand. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “What does that mean?”
In Melody A, the harmony is simplified to a single chord strum, while the melody is played as single notes. In Melody B, you’ll play out of the same chord positions, but the single note melody lines will include the harmony. In other words, you’ll be strumming a chord PLUS playing the melody. This is why Melody B sound more rich and full when compared to Melody A.
Now some of the rhythms will be a little tricky as they are syncopated. This means that the melody, sometimes, hits “off” the beat (i.e. on the up-beat). Therefore, there are two ways to approach learning the rhythm. The first, and easiest, is to play by ear. This is a song we’ve all heard a million times and know by heart. If you can sing it, you can play it!
The second approach requires an understanding of rhythmic notation. As these rhythms are tricky, I’d recommend counting eighth notes out loud and clapping on the beats before putting it onto the instrument. If you really want to gain a deep understanding of rhythmic notation, there is no better way than by learning to read standard notation.
Part 1 – Performance & Free Lesson