Learn to Play Two Songs - Guitar Lesson 4
Written by Philip du Toit   
Thursday, 26 November 2009 11:25


Before we start, some chord chart theory.  Each bar is indicated by |    |
The amount of items (chords or dashes) within a bar indicates the amount of beats within a bar.
E.g. | G -  -  - | means a G chord is played on the first beat and retained for three more beats.  Since there are four items in this bar, it means that there are four beats in this bar.
E.g. | - D - | means that the previous chord of the previous bar is retained for the first beat, a D is played on the second beat and retained for another beat.  Since there are three items within this bar, it means that there are three beats in this bar.



OK, enough theory for now.  Let’s play...



Let’s work on two well known songs that have no copyright: “Amazing Grace” and “Oh when the saints.”

Just read through the song first before you attempt to play it.  (We explain how to play it below)



In the key of G


| G  -  -  D  | G -  -     -    | -  -  -      -     | C  -  -  -     | G  -  -
             A-  ma-     zing  grace! how  sweet the  sound,


  -   |  Em  -  -  -   | A  -  -   -     | D  -  -
that saved      a  wretch like  me!


-  |  G  -  -   -    | -  -  -  -    | C  -  -  -      |  G  -  -
I     once was   lost but   now    am   found,


-      | Em  -  -   -     | Am  -  -  D  | G  -  -  - |
was  blind      but  now             I   see.


You should by now be able to work out all the chords (based on lesson 3).  See if you can work them out.  You can keep lesson 3 open on another page for ease of reference.

But if you struggle, here are the notes contained within the chords anyway:


G  =    G  B  D      (320003)
D  =    D  F#  A     (XX0232)
C  =    C  E  G       (X32010)
Em =  E  G  B       (022000)
A  =    A  C#  E     (X02220)
Am  = A  C  E        (X02210)


How to play the chords:


Try and use a finger position that is most comfortable for you.  Strum from the bass string onwards.  Do not play the strings marked with an X.


Go back to “Amazing grace” using these guidelines and see if you can practice the song by merely pressing the chords on the right beat  – until you can do it fluently on the rhythm.  It helps to practice with a metronome to keep within the rhythm.  Also try to sing along while you play.  This might take some time.



See if you can master Amazing grace in this way.



Congratulations!  OK, time to play another song, this time with a bit more complex chords.

Just read through the song first before you attempt to play it.  (We explain how to play it below)



In the Key of C:



|  C  -  -           -            |  C  -  -        F                | C  -  -
            Oh, when the  saints go marching  in


         F              |  C        -   Am7   -    | Dm7 -  Dm7
         G                                                                 G
Oh, when the  saints go marching  in


           G7      |  C         -   C7  -       |  F   -   Fm
                                          E                          D
Lord, how I   want to be in   that   number


   F          |   C       Am7    Dm7     G9   |  C -  -  -  |
When the saints  go     march-   ing    in.



Your first question would probably be:

 “What does F mean?”


This means that you play an F major chord (F  A  C), but that the bass guitar plays the G.  You would call this chord “an F on a G.”  That which is beneath the line (G in this case) does not refer to a chord but to a single bass note that should be played together with the chord.  Obviously, when you see another bass note beneath the line, the same principle applies for the other chords.


Some guitarists combine the chord and the bass line.  This however will take some practice, for you might need to add your thumb here and there (it works better with steel string guitars with a thinner neck).  Some of the chords can also land in awkward positions.  It is OK if you keep with the basic chords (above the line).



You should be able to work out all the chords by now.  Keep our GUITAR CHORDS LIST handy if you get stuck.



Also practice this song by simply strumming the chords on the right beat as with “Amazing Grace.”  Remember to not play the stings marked with an X.  This will take some time as well, especially the second last measure where you need to change the chord on each beat. 



Important!  When you practice the chords, try and remember the chords by seeing and memorizing them in pictures.  Remember your moveable shapes.  You can also try the song in another key, by moving all the chords up a fret or 2.  This will help you to also learn with your right brain.  You will notice that your brain will start to recognize and execute the whole chord quicker in this way.


Remember to try and sing along while you play.  This also helps for both left and right brain learning.


Practice makes perfect!



If you take your guitar playing seriously, you would make sure not to advance to the next lesson before you have mastered these two songs (by strumming the chords on the right beats).



  Advance to:


  Lesson 5 - Practice your Ear



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