Let’s meet our new note! It’s an eighth note. You can play two eighth notes per beat. That makes a total of eight eighth notes per measure (hence it’s name). By itself it looks something like this:
So, if you see an eighth note by itself, it will have a dangling flag. If you see more than one eighth note in a row, the flag connects to the next eighth note. Look at the first four notes in our exercise above. They are four eighth notes in a row.
Counting for eighth notes adds a new trick to our game. Typically we can count them as:
one and two and three and four and
We say “one” on the first beat and in the empty space between the first beat and the second beat we’ll say “and”. This is where your timing will be challenged. We cut a measure up into eight equal pieces. The key word here is “equal”. It’s easy to rush it. If you are tapping your foot. The down motion, where you tap your foot on the ground, is the “one” and as your foot comes up (the upbeat) it’s on the “and”. You can also think of it as a pendulum swinging.
Down, Up, Down, Up
Up to this point, we’ve only had to use a downstroke to strum the strings. The introduction of eighth notes requires us to begin using the down, up, down, and up strumming motions. It’s just like tapping your foot. Down on ‘one’, up on ‘and’.