Playing a notated melody is largely about deciding upon your fingerboard range. Most of the time, the fifth position has what you need. However, along with range, you should also understand the; key, the rhythms and the phrasing of each part. Then, format all of this information to enhance your songs performance…
Your pre-flight checklist…
1). Check the Clef-Sign, guitar is the G Clef. Also known as the Treble Clef.
2). Check the Key Signature. You will need to understand the specific keys which contain certain sharps or flats.
Key signatures (combined with melodic phrasing), will also indicate the tonality of the piece, (whether the song-section is major or minor). Keep in mind that different song sections, (Verse, Chorus, Bridge), may switch tonality.
NOTE: Understanding the major or minor color /tonality of a piece will require some background knowledge of Major and Minor melodic resolution.
3). Look over all of the measures of a piece that you are going to read and check for any accidentals, (sharp or flat tones that are not located within the indicated key signature).
NOTE: Sometimes a piece of music will contain unique sharps or flats (passing tones). These unique tones, when /if applied, will only be valid for within the single measure where they are applied since they are not a part of the songs key signature.
Watch for the use of accidentals in any piece you are learning. Make a determination for how you will approach accidentals “prior” to your performance.
4). Analyze the rhythmic phrasing of every piece you read and compare the musical phrases back to the time signature. If the piece has more than one time signature, look over where other shifts in time will occur.
NOTE: Some songs will have an applied feel. The most popular of these are known as the “Swing,” or the Blues “Shuffle.”
5). Loosely play through the piece (measure by measure, then line by line), and begin to develop a solid feel for each sections rhythmic and melodic phrasing.
It is crucial to develop a quick memory for what the measures both feel and sound like. That said, there is no substitute for actually hearing the recording of a piece that you are studying.
Sometimes however, that isn’t possible. In those cases, your level of skill at music reading becomes paramount.
6). Once you have a general idea for the piece and you are playing it through easily enough, remember to put some LIFE into the notes.
When reading sheet music, keep in mind that the notes of a musical piece are much more than simply black dots on a white piece of paper.
Phrase your musical passages in an articulated way, by using various forms of technical embellishments.
Embellishments can include; slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, gliss notes, trills and more. It all boils down to what you think sounds good.