O.K so you’re all fired up and ready to get into playing songs but first…
Are You Really Ready?
Most beginners I see get it backwards…
They pick up a guitar and before they can even play anything they start trying to learn their favorite songs.
So first things first… you must make sure you’ve done all the necessary preparation FIRST, and only then should you begin looking for some simple songs to play.
A simple guitar song is defined by the limited number of beginner chords it uses and that it normally employs just one strumming pattern. There are many popular easy songs which fall sweetly into this category making there the perfect starting point for beginners.
YouTube is a wonderful resource for anyone learning guitar. Not only can you find a massive amount of free lessons but a million and one song lessons are taught as well, and all for free.
Buy Yourself A Capo!
A guitar capo is extremely useful because it vastly increases the number of songs you can play along to without you needing to learn a ton of different barre chords!
Often you’ll find that songs are in more remote keys than C or G and so will contain barre chords. These types of chords are out of the range of most beginners who have only just mastered open chords. Using a capo however it’s possible to convert songs using barre chords into open chord versions, all you need is a little knowledge of music theory or access to a guitar teacher who can do the work for you. You do not need to be an advanced guitarist to use music theory so don’t let that stop you from starting to learn about it now.
Once transposed into open chords with a capo position, what was once an advanced song can be brought into the range of a beginner just like magic! A capo clamps down across all six strings in order to reproduce the ‘nut’ of the guitar. It allows you to play in a different key while still retaining all your usual open chords. More on that in another article coming soon.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
When approaching learning a new song the first thing to work on are the chord changes to make sure you can transition between each one smoothly.
All the best songs for beginners will be made up of open chords anyway which the easiest to learn. Run through the changes and identify if you have a problem between any of the changes… if not then you should be able to learn the in just a few minutes!
The second thing to look at is the strumming pattern or patterns the song uses. If you’ve been through my strumming course then you should find you’re able to identify what strums to use instantly so this shouldn’t represent any problem to you at all.
Now it’s just a matter of putting both elements together!
TABS are a step up from merely strumming the chords to a song and as such they’re not usually recommended for absolute beginners.
As your playing gets better you’ll find that you can move up a level and into more note-for-note learning of songs. This is a more detailed form of guitar music notation and allows you to read melody lines and riffs rather than just chords. Often, songs will have some signature guitar riffs or melodic signature content which can be lots of fun to learn. When you’re able to make the transition out of song sheets (chords and strumming) and into guitar tab (riffs and melody lines with chords) then you’ll know for sure that you’re making some decent progress on guitar.
The key is to always push forward but not at a rate which is going to cause you unnecessary frustration. Find the right balance between keeping yourself entertained with new things to learn or master and over-doing it by asking way to much of yourself on guitar – only go for things you are ready for and keep your steps small. That’s actually the fastest way to improve on guitar.