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Teaching New Guitar Students Chords

When ( / if) you teach, in what order do you introduce guitar chords? I'm interested in YOUR feedback. Do you use a ciriculum such as Mel Bay or Hal Leonard, or if not, what approach do you implement?

Is it best to teach chords in the keys of C, then G, then D, etc., or is it better to start with chords that are easier to finger and go to more difficult chord shapes (when I started out, I hated the F chord--as a child, holding two strings down with one finger on an adult-size classical guitar before calluses are developed was not the most fun experience)? Do you teach a simplified C chord, and then replace it with a full chord later (same w/ G and G7)?

I'm teaching a child who is having difficulties with rhythms (eg. note on high E string, chord, chord, rest [repeat][4/4 time]. To try to focus on R.H. technique I let her use a guitar tuned to an open tuning, as she is sometimes not pressing the strings properly for a clear tone. It seems to help, but I wonder just how often she practices. Do you always have young students' parents sign off on their daily practice?

-Looking forward to your responses!
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Re: Teaching New Guitar Students Chords

9/29/2008 8:57 PM

Matt Wood (2844) wrote:

I think the studnet wanting to play the song is most important . I had a mate who I taught some stuff too for beer . He struggled and learned barre chords 1st cause he wanted to play hotel california .

I think the trick is finding songs they like with a new chord in it . Even transposing a song to make it have a new chord .

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Re: Teaching New Guitar Students Chords

9/30/2008 12:09 AM

Robert Strait (6660) wrote:

Ya know, really there is no one singular approach. Everyone is
different, and a good teacher is one that inspires the student to
discover his instrument, regardless of what you teach them first,
and in what order, and blah blah blah.

In the end, the best players IMO are the ones who break the
"rules" and hold to their weird idiosyncrasies anyway...

I don't think there is anything wrong at all with teaching
simplified versions of chords to make them more playable....I
think it's a good idea. If the student can actually play the shape,
then its more fun for them and quicker for them to make, they are still getting the chord SOUND in their ears,
which is the most important thing, IMO. There will always b time
to later discuss voicings and theory...

If the kid gets inspired, you will notice that she practiced. I don't
know the details of your student, but for learning rhythms, you
can do some of that off the guitar, and it can be fun too! Simple
knee slapping to demonstrate the different note durations (1/4,
1/8, triplet, etc.) might help.

Best of luck to ya...hope you find a way to teach and inspire the

Keep pickin',


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Re: Teaching New Guitar Students Chords

9/30/2008 1:05 AM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

Robert hit it right on the nose!

I have had students who:
1) only want to learn songs.
2) want to learn how to read and play the guitar.
3) just want to play so they can be just like: ___________ (fill in the blank).
4) want to learn theory and how to apply it.
5) and the infamous - I don't know what I want, guitar just seems cool!!!!

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Re: Teaching New Guitar Students Chords

9/30/2008 9:36 AM

Rik Eischen (960) wrote:

Thank you, Robert, and everyone else at WN who responded. You've given me some things to think about here. I really appreciate the advise from you folks here at WholeNote!!

For my student to whom I made reference to at the top of the post, she's young, and she's trying the guitar out. There's no guarantee she will want to play guitar for the rest of her life. And nothing says she will aspire to be another Jimi Hendrix or Phil Keaggy, or any other great guitarist you could mention. At this point I suppose it's teaching real guitar skills, but in a fun manner, so she will feel encouraged to want to continue with guitar and expand her horizons. I suppose simplified chords is not a "dummied-down" guitar education if it is only a first step, to be followed by second, third and fourth steps as well. While I have been playing guitar for years, I am somewhat new to teaching the instrument, and that is another skill in itself. Thanks for your replies!


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