Grace Note

An ornament is a note or group of notes that decorates and gives character to a melody. The simplest of all ornaments is the grace note, a quick note written smaller than normal with a slash through its stem.  Grace notes are played as fast as possible and usually slurred to the note they decorate.

Grace notes may precede a note either from above or below, either as a step or a skip.

Grace notes are either played right before the beat or right on the beat.  For beginners the later way is generally easier.

To play on the beat in tempo, begin by setting your metronome to about M.M.= 50.   Count 4 ticks to establish the pulse and execute the slurred grace note directly on the beat.  Practice until you’ve developed accuracy of aligning grace notes to beats:

When secure, practice the ornament while sounding a bass note.  Standard notation typically shows the grace note written before the beat, though it is typically played simultaneous with p.

Finally practice playing the grace note and bass in a steady tempo.  Notice again the grace note is executed directly on the beat:


A trill is an ornament of at least two alternating adjacent notes.  Like the grace note, it’s written in smaller font.

In order to play a two-note trill, you must first be secure with slurs.  Simply move your left-hand finger as a quick, connected upward/downward slur (a hammer-on, pull-off combined movement). First practice slow, then more quickly, making it connect smoothly into the last note.
When controlled, practice playing steadily with a metronome, executing the trill directly on the beat.
Next, practice the trill with a bass.   While the trill appears to precede the bass note, it’s easiest to sound it simultaneously with p.
Finally, practice this trill with p on the beat in steady rhythm.  Begin by setting the metronome to about M.M.=50.  Count 4 ticks to establish the pulse and execute the trill directly on the beat.  Practice until you’re able to accurately align trills to beats:

The following solo from Book II, Gavotte (p. 160), provides practice with both grace notes and trills.