Learn the Guitar and Play Some Songs 1 .pdf

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Learn the Guitar and Play Some Songs
John Astor
(c) 2006
This book is intended as a guide for the lessons on the
'Learn the Guitar and Play Some Songs' DVD.

These lessons were made for the beginner or near beginner and they
are presented as if I am your instructor and you come once a week for a
private class. At first we go quite slowly, and as you know more material we
move a little faster and learn a little more. Keep your remote control close
by because you will have to pause many times and work on what was just
taught and before you continue to the next step. Always go over the
lessons very slowly at first and when you learn something new, do it very
very slowly. Don't just skip through all the lessons in a few days. You won't
learn what you intended when you decided to play the guitar.
I decided that learning songs, especially in the beginning, helps us
remember important ideas and is a lot of fun. Every time we are presented
with a new concept, we apply it in a song. At the end of the course, which
should take about 5 months, you will have learned fourteen different songs,
in a variety of styles, and lots of chords and melodies that you can play for
the rest of your life. The songs I've included are in the public domain and
you are free to perform and record them yourself. These songs will teach
you the process of learning a song and you can apply it to the music you
want to learn. Don't rush through the lessons in a month or so. If you really
give a week to each lesson (excluding the first two) you will get not only the
ideas firmly placed in your mind, but you will develop the physical dexterity
it takes to be comfortable playing the instrument. This is very important.

I've included all the things that I've written out to show you on the DVD here
in this book. Print it out and keep it with you while you take the lessons and
practice on your own. Each of the songs and all the things I use in the

lessons are here. You will be able to play along with me and use your book
while we play together. The book should prove to be an invaluable resource
when you practice. After you take the lesson, you will go back over it on the
DVD many times, but the book allows you to practice and play alone. This
builds on every aspect of learning the guitar.
I recommend that you practice a little everyday instead of a long time
just one day a week. You will develop much faster, and by just playing you
will begin to understand what you are learning. Don't worry about singing
along with the songs. By singing, we develop our understanding of
melodies and learn on other levels. It's just like when you say something
that you need to learn; you think it, say it, hear it and feel it. Always try to
sing. It will help your playing. Share the songs too. Music is a community
and people love to hear and participate with songs. Find someone to sing
along with you and you will get the idea of playing the guitar as an
accompaniment and as a part of a group. Besides, it will make you feel
good, I hope. It is a must and I encourage you to keep a notebook for
yourself. Write the things you need to work on. If you come up with ideas or
want to make a special note to yourself about something we've covered, it
will always be there for you. Having a notebook will always reinforce your
learning. I highly recommend it.
If you find it quite difficult to press down on the strings, you may need
to have the neck adjusted. Normally, at the beginning your fingers get a
little sore, but the distance that the strings lay from the neck (the action) is
important. You might want to consider having someone adjust the neck, or
sometimes it's called, adjusting the action. Ask how much they charge and
don't pay too much. It should be reasonable.
Have a good relation with your guitar. If you get a little tense or
discouraged that your progress isn't moving fast enough, take a break.
Have a glass of water. Come back to the instrument when you feel that
your ready. But by having this DVD, you can take your lessons whenever
you want and practice a little everyday, when you have time. There's no
rush. Enjoy the journey and best of luck!

Lesson 1

We tune the guitar strings to sounds called notes. Each note has a name.
We number the strings from the highest (thinnest) to the lowest (thickest).
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th -

the high E string
the B string
the G string
the D string
the A string
the low E string

Tuning the guitar is the first step that must be taken when we learn to
play the guitar. It is the process of adjusting the sounds of each string, by
using the tuning pegs, to match the standard tones that are the basis for
chords and melodies. You have to be in tune with me. I've tuned to the
correct pitches so that you can listen and match your tuning with my tuning
by using your ear. If at first it doesn't come very fast, just be patient and
stay with it. Each time you tune it will be easier to do. Always turn the
tuning pegs gradually and slowly. Get to know how your guitar responds to
the turns by listening to how fast the sound changes. If you're not sure if
you need to go higher or lower, listen very carefully and turn the peg a little
and see if your getting closer to the tone or farther away. You'll get it, keep
You can also tune by yourself when you don't have the DVD handy
and want to play. Remember, you must be in good tuning for all the chords
and music to sound good on the guitar. This method uses the low E string
as a reference and the rest of the strings are tuned one by one using the
following method. This is called tuning to yourself.
On the low E string, press just behind the 5th fret (the lines going
across the neck of the guitar where you put your fingers are called frets)
and and play that note with your thumb (right hand) Then play the A string
open (without pressing anything there). In this image you are facing the
neck of the guitar and the top horizontal line is the nut of the guitar.

Try to match the A string; open (with no fingers on the string), to the sound
of the E string; 5th fret. They should be exactly the same. You adjust the A
string to match the sound of the E string. Then, do the same thing with the
A string; 5th fret and the D string; open. After that, the D string; 5th fret and
the G string; open. Then, the G string; 4th fret and the B string; open.
Finally, the B string; 5th fret and the E string; open. This is the traditional
way to tune the guitar .When the DVD isn't available and you don't have a
tuner, you can always get in tune this way by using the low E string as a
reference point. I want you to try this and listen to where these notes repeat
themselves. These are the locations on the neck when the notes begin to
repeat themselves. I do this in the lesson and watch carefully.
Always take your time when you tune. Don't be in a rush. Listen to the
notes carefully and adjust the tuning pegs slowly.
On the internet you can find a free guitar tuner that can be very handy.
Just search for 'free guitar tuner' and download one you like. You may want
to go to cnet.com and look for the downloads page and you will find some
there. There's lots of them for free out there. You can also buy a guitar
tuner at a music store. It should cost about $15 for a standard one. Don't
spend too much, but I do recommend a guitar tuner to make it faster and
easier to get in tune.
If you're not happy with your guitar you can find quite a variety of
guitars at the website, musiciansfriend.com and look around to get an idea.
It's always best though, to try the guitar that you're going to buy. One will
feel better (for some reason) than the others, and that's the one for you.

Your local music store is usually the best choice for guitars. Always check
to see if the neck is adjustable. This is important.

Lesson 2

We now learn our first three chords. A chord is a group of three or more
different notes played at the same time. But first, we need to learn how to
place our left hand. There should be space between the palm of your hand
and the neck. Don't grab it. Your thumb, which is on the back of the neck,
will act as a balance for the pressure you apply with your fingers. Each
chord will have a little different hand position that you will discover, but the
neck should never be touching the entire palm. When we strum with our
right hand, just let your thumb fall down over the strings rather gently so as
to get a feeling for the strings. Then, let your thumb pass rapidly over the
strings. There are many different strum and picking patterns that we will
learn and this is our first.
The chords that we're learning are A, D and E. When the chords have
a letter name only, they are major chords.

Try not to touch the neighbor strings accidentally by having your
fingers lay against them. Let each string ring clearly. Memorize each of
these chords.

Lesson 3

Changing chords is essential for playing the guitar. It will take a little
time to develop, but you will get it. Look at patterns in the chord fingerings
and similarities between them. Make sure you practice each combination of
A, D and E. We will also learn to read a chord chart. This is the chord chart
that you will see in the lesson. When we count the rhythm, in this example,
we count each beat at the same speed; 1, 2, 3, 4. You can see, with the A
chord, we count to four and then four again, without stops or pauses. Do
the same with D, then with E, and back to A.

We will be using chord charts a lot as we progress. The lines going down,
separating the numbers are called bar lines and between each bar line is a
measure of music (also called a bar). Here, as in most songs, we count to
four and then repeat. The beat remains steady and in some songs it can be

very fast and in others slow. At first, count very slowly when you practice on
your own. You can see that we play two measures of the A chord, two
measures of D, two measures of E and two measures of A at the end. Try
to make all the transitions smooth. If you find it challenging, go even slower
so that you don't have to break up the rhythm. Go as slow as you have to
keep the beat going and gradually come up to my pace and play it with me.
On your own, practice switching from E to D. In the beginning it's a good
idea to play the chord once and then switch to another one to get the idea
of changing chords. Once you can do that, try changing the chords inside
the rhythm.

Lesson 4

This week we learn our first song. It's from New Orleans and it's called Iko
Iko. We only use the A and E chords for this song and it will introduce us to
the idea of how chords on the guitar can be the foundation for the melody
(singing) part of the song.

Iko Iko

1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4

Iko Iko
Hey now, hey now
Iko Iko un day
Jockomo feeno ah an nay
Jockomo feena nay
My grandma see your grandpa
sitting by the fire
My grandma tell your grandpa
Gonna set your flag on fire
talk about
My spy dog see your spy dog
Sitting by the Bayou
My spy dog tell your spy dog
Gonna set your tail on fire
talk about

It's a good idea to play a little introduction before you start singing the song.
Many times I (you can too) play the first chord for eight beats (two
measures right?) to get ready. Then, begin the chord chart and sing. You
can experiment with some different strums and as long as you keep a
steady beat. I've kept the right hand very basic. Once you can change the
chords smoothly and play the strumming rhythm, try some of your own
ideas for strumming. Make sure when you play the song, to play the entire
song. Get the feeling for how the song moves because it's a mood. It's not
just the ability to play, but the actual playing itself. Get the song really well
and try to play it for someone. Spend your week memorizing and perfecting
this, our first song.

Lesson 5

In this lesson, we learn a blues song. the way these chords move is the
basis for hundreds of blues songs. Blues, the African-American tradition, is
the foundation for Jazz, Rock, Rhythm and Blues and most all of the
modern American music.

C C Rider
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4


1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4


1 2 3 4


1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4

C.C. Rider, see what you have done
C.C. Rider, see what you have done
You made me love you, now your man has gone
I'm goin' away baby and I won't be back till fall
Goin' baby, won't be back till fall
If I find me a good love, I won't be back at all
C.C. Rider, the moon is shinin' bright
C.C. Rider, the moon is shinin' bright
I'm leavin' this city by the mornin' light

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