Songs featuring “easy” chords are essential when it comes to teaching guitar.
When a guitar player is just starting out the biggest thing that we have on our side as guitar teachers is their enthusiasm. Our students believe that (with our help) they will be able to make noises that they like on the guitar. It is a good idea to make that happen as quickly as possible.
The first guitar lessons that a novice guitar player has with us should concern themselves with encouraging the development of motor skills (the physical ability to press down on the strings with one hand while strumming chords with the other). It’s as simple as that really and I’ve found that by far the best way to make that happen is to teach them songs (or more likely fragments of songs) that they are already familiar with. This is not to denigrate the role of music theory but that can wait for the simple reason that from our student’s point of view there is very little point in knowing that a chord is made up of the root, third and fifth notes of a relevant major or minor scale if you cant physically play it?
Follow this link to a whole bunch of songs (or recognisable fragments of songs) that can be played using only the chords of G Em C and D which are the four chords fetaured in the “First Guitar Lesson”
Why These Particular Chords?
It is a fairly widely established practice with professional guitar instructors to teach the open chords of the basic “Caged Guitar System” first
The chords of C A Am G E Em D and Dm offer the possibility of playing thousands of songs whilst never having to do anything too difficult (like holding down two strings with a single finger to make an “F” chord shape for example) with the fretting hand
Closer study of the chords above will reveal that they are particularly effective when it comes to working on songs that can be presented in the keys of G or A but we (and more importantly our students) don’t have to think about it at this stage we just need some stuff that they recognise to get them playing the guitar
Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix
Two strums (half a bar) on C
two strums on G
Two Strums on D
Two strums on A
Eight strums (two full bars) on E
Two strums on A
Two strums on D
Two Strums on E
Two strums on D
It can be a good idea to have a library of easy chord songs for guitar pre-prepared (scanned or photocopied?) for your students? Follow this link to another article looking at a range of blank guitar tab and chord grids which form ideal templates for your guitar chord teaching materials?
In the meantime here is a list of songs (or fragments of songs) that can be played using just the four chords (G Em C and D) taken from our first guitar lesson
“His latest Flame” G to Em
“Itchycoo Park” G to Em (Chorus)
“The Locomotion” G to Em (verse:1 bar each chord)
“Shout” G to Em
“Hallelujah” G to Em (ok I know its Em7 but it still works?)
“You Really Got A Hold On Me” (G to Em)
“Stand By Me” (All four chords in the order presented)
“Every Breath You Take” (All four chords in the order presented)
“Simply The Best” (ditto)
“Blue Moon” (ditto)
“Crocodile Rock (ditto)
“Hungry Heart” (and again?)
This list is really just intended to help the student to realise that they are capable of making reasonably rapid progress. Some of the songs detailed above are not in the original keys of the recorded versions and there are occasionally some simplifications going on there but the idea is to encourage the student to believe that they will get better with a little work.?