How To Play Songs On GuitarPosted by Mike Schuck
Learning how to play guitar means learning how to play some songs! There are many ways to learn how to play music, but one of the most common is to pick an easy song first and then work your way up from there.
A lot of people begin playing by learning the chords for a few popular songs first, which can be helpful, but not every person will feel comfortable doing that. Some may even find it boring!
Instead, try picking an album or set of songs you like and simply teaching yourself what notes go with each chord. That’s why it’s important to know how to play some songs already! You can always refer back to this article as needed.
But before you get too excited, let’s take a look at two easy songs that anyone can enjoy!
THE FIRST SONG
The first song we will cover in detail is called “Happy Birthday”. To play this song, use either our new technique or our old one depending on if you have learned about modes before or not.
For these lessons, you should be familiar with the major scale, minor scales, and harmonic rhythm. Let’s dive into the lesson now! 🙂
How to Play Happy Birthday
Step 1: The Chorus
Play the second line twice – note that both times, the A string is used.
Figure out the chord changes
Chords are one of the most fundamental concepts in music, and learning how to play some songs using only chords is definitely something you can do!
Chords are simply notes that sound good together. For example, if you take the first note of your song and put it with the second note, then the third note, you create a chord.
The term “chord” comes from the word concord, which means agreement or harmony. When those three notes agree, it makes a nice sound!
There are several types of chords you can learn to play, such as major, minor, augmented, diminished, power, blues, and many more. Some even have their own special names like natural, harmonic, and octave substitution.
But for now we will just focus on playing simple Power Chords. These are really easy to make, and there are not too many rules about them.
Practice identifying the chords
The next step in playing guitar songs is being able to recognize all of the chord shapes that make up each song! This can be tricky at first, but don’t worry- it gets easier with practice!
By now you should have gathered some basic skills like reading music and counting beats. Now it’s time to take things one step further by recognizing what kind of chords go together to form different melodies and bass lines.
There are two main types of chords used in music: power chords and natural harmony chords. Power chords use the same note (or notes) as the starting base, whereas natural harmony uses lower or higher notes depending on the melody. For example, if the melody was made out of only major chords, then the most common type of power chord would be an Em chord (A minor).
Power chords are great because they easily relate back to other chords. For instance, if you wanted to play a power chord on the fifth degree of the scale (G#), you could either start from G or A, both of which are already prepared for you!
Natural harmonic progressions occur when moving between consecutive intervals of the octave.
Learn the song's key
In order to play a song, you need to know its key! The key of a song is determined by the set number of notes it contains. There are eight common keys in music that we can use for songs, including major, natural minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor, ABA form, crescendo-decresendo (or octave motion), and diatonic scales.
By knowing your songs’ keys, you will be able to sing or strum them easily! Luckily, most songs have a chord pattern attached to them which includes the key. By looking at the chords, you can determine what key the song is in!
Knowing the key of a song gives you another tool to learn how to play guitar! If you ever get stuck on a part of a song, you can look up the lyrics and note down the corresponding chords to quickly figure out the rest of the song.
Learn to read chord progressions
Chords are one of the most fundamental building blocks in music. A chord is three or more notes that sound good together. For example, the first two chords you learned were either the First-Vowel (A major) or Second-Secondary-Minor (G minor) pattern.
The other thing about chords is how they're comprised. A chord has at least one – but often several – tonal centers. These include any note within the chord that makes it feel stable and/or strong.
For instance, the first chord we looked at was the A major chord. The A notes in this chord are the third, fifth, and seventh scale degree notes of the natural minor scale. This means that these notes make the chord feel stable and strong.
Learn to sing along
Even if you cannot read music, you can still learn how to play songs by singing them! This is called song reading or voice-based learning. You will learn how to do this by practicing with your own voice first!
Practice listening to a few minutes of audio content every day and then trying to mimic what the singer is saying. Once you are able to do that, you can progress to more complex songs.
You can find free educational resources anywhere online. There are many sites with tutorials and lessons for beginners to explore. You could also join some musical communities and look through their library.
Overall, there are two main types of people who learn guitar via vocalization. The first type learns directly from the lyrics, while the second one uses notes as a way to understand the structure of the song.
Which style you choose really depends on which part of the song you are struggling to grasp. For example, someone who knows nothing about music may start playing “Happy Birthday” and get the rhythm down but not know the initial chords or why they use them.
Play along with the recording
There are many ways to learn how to play a song on guitar. One of the most popular methods is to use a technique called playing along with a recording. You can pick any string or chord and just listen to the track as you play it!
With this method, you get all the sounds and nuances that the artist included in their music. For example, if there’s a cool double stop (two notes next to each other) in a barre chord, you would include that in your own version. Or maybe there’s an interesting rhythm pattern used throughout the whole piece – you could add those into your own pieces!
There are two main reasons why this is such a great way to learn songs on guitar. First, you get lots of practice by listening to the original song several times through.
Use a sheet music to reference
There is no need to have access to computer software or apps, nor do you need to be very tech savvy to use these tools. A piece of paper with song lyrics and guitar chords can help you tremendously!
You can make your own charting books by recording yourself playing each chord as you learn it and writing down all of the notes for that chord. Then, when you are able to play those songs easily, you can go back and review what chords were used and how they were mapped out in the book.
There are many free and paid resources available online and through app stores. Many of them have great reviews so I recommend trying one out for see if it helps you organize and navigate the guitar licks more quickly.
Find a guitar partner
Finding someone who is willing to help you improve your guitarist skills is the most important thing when starting out as a beginner. There are many ways to find this person, but one of the best is by joining an online music community.
Music communities have different levels that people can be a part of, from very casual to more advanced. For example, in the past year, I’ve seen people join YouTube Music Duos where they learn a song together as a pair. These duos sometimes meet up at a local coffee shop or outside to practice and/or listen to the finished product!
In addition to music making, some groups offer lessons and tips for the instrument — something every musician should know how to do if they want to advance their craft.
There are also group discussions about things such as what gear individuals have access to so that they can practice along with others or get advice on whether or not to purchase new equipment.
By being a part of these communities, you will meet lots of like-minded musicians that may eventually become friends or colleagues.
The Jam Addict team is a revolving door of writers who care about music, its effects on culture, and giving aspiring artists tools and knowledge to be inspired and keep on creating.
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