guitar fingerpicking

Spice Up Your Songs: 3 Fun Guitar Fingerpicking Patterns for Beginners

guitar fingerpicking

Whether you just started guitar lessons or you’ve been playing for a while, guitar fingerpicking patterns can spice up your playing! Here, Denver, CO teacher Kirk R. teaches you three guitar fingerpicking patterns to add to your guitar-playing toolbox…

If you’ve mastered all of the left-hand chord shapes, adding some right-hand flair will help you keep things interesting. If you’re still working on your first couple of chords, or maybe haven’t gotten that far yet, using some guitar fingerpicking patterns is a great way to impress your friends.

There’s an almost unlimited number of ways to pick a chord with your right hand, so covering all the possibilities would take forever! Let’s keep things simple and go over a few of the basic guitar fingerpicking patterns.

“Boom-Chick” Guitar Fingerpicking

Let’s start with what I call a “boom-chick” pattern. You may also see it called “boom-chuck,” or something else entirely, and you may also see slightly different right-hand techniques with the same name.

The pattern starts with a bass note that you play with your thumb, followed by a group of higher notes. Most of the time, this will be a group of three notes, and you will use your index finger, middle finger, and ring finger. This pattern can also vary and have fewer notes, or you can add a fourth note with your thumb, but this makes the pattern a bit more difficult.

This sort of pattern is especially useful in songs with a waltz-like feel, or any other songs in ¾ time. In those cases, the pattern works best with your thumb playing on the first beat of each measure, followed by two chords on the second and third beats. The easiest version of this pattern in 4/4 or another duple meter, is a thumb note on beats one and three while the fingers play the chord on beats two and four.

As an exercise to develop this pattern, start by using your thumb on the open E bass string, and your index, middle, and ring fingers on the G, B, and E strings, respectively. You can use this open picking pattern anywhere that calls for an E minor chord, and give your left hand a break to turn a page, scratch your head, or whatever else it’s been too busy playing chords to do.

Check out the basic patterns here, as well as some of the possible variations.

Travis Picking

Travis picking is one of the most popular categories of guitar fingerpicking. It’s named after the great country guitar player Merle Travis. If you’re not a country fan, don’t let that throw you off; if you don’t know who he is, make sure you check this guy out.

Despite being named after Merle Travis, the term Travis picking has a slightly more narrow definition than the patterns that Merle used in his playing. In general, Merle only used his thumb and the index finger of his right hand, which is the easiest way to approach Travis Picking.

Start by playing with your thumb and index finger at the same time, with at least two strings between the ones that you’re playing (i.e. play the fourth and first strings). After that, play your thumb on a higher string, and then your index finger on the next string.

After that, move back to the outer strings and play with your thumb, followed by your index finger, and finally, another thumb note before repeating the pattern.







It may look a little confusing written down, but once you start to feel it under your hand, it makes a lot more sense. When I play patterns like this, I try to remind myself that I wasn’t blessed with athletic hands like Merle Travis. While I can play the whole pattern with just my thumb and index finger, using my middle finger on the highest note makes it more comfortable to play for an extended time. It also opens up a few more options, which I’ve demonstrated in the video below.


Arpeggio Guitar Fingerpicking

Arpeggio means playing the notes of a chord, one after another, moving in the same direction. For that reason, I will call these types of guitar fingerpicking patterns the arpeggio patterns.

To start, set your hand up the same way you would for the “boom-chick” pattern, and start playing with just your thumb. Next, rather than playing the three fingers together, as we did before, we’ll play them in ascending order: index first, followed by the middle, and finally the ring finger.

This basic pattern is really useful in the right type of song, and it’s easy to expand to fit different chords or time signatures. In fact, back in 1812, a famous guitarist published a list of 120 different versions of this type of pattern, all using only C and G7. The easiest ways to switch it up is to simply do it backward, starting with the highest note, or start with the thumb, and then play only the fingers in reverse order. Playing the original pattern, followed by the middle and then index fingers also make for a pleasant sound. Try changing the rhythm up in the middle of the arpeggio. Here’s a few options that you can try out yourself:

The easiest way to switch it up is to simply do it backward, starting with the highest note, or start with your thumb, and then play only your fingers in reverse order. Playing the original pattern, followed by the middle and then index fingers also makes for a pleasant sound.

Try changing the rhythm up in the middle of the arpeggio. Here’s a few options that you can try out yourself:

As you can tell from the videos, once you’re comfortable with a few of the patterns, it’s easy to do impressive improvisations without having to think about scales, mode, or anything besides basic chord progressions.

These guitar fingerpicking patterns are great if you’re ready to get more variety out of the chords you’ve been using. Try Add some spice to your songs by trying these patterns with songs you already know.

If you have questions, ask your teacher or let us know in the comments below! Have fun, and get those right-hand fingers moving!

Kirk RPost Author:
 Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical, bass, and acoustic guitar instructor in Denver, CO. He earned a bachelor’s of music in Guitar performance at The College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati and he is currently pursuing a masters degree in performance.  Learn more about Kirk here!

Image courtesy Kmeron

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Gamification in Education: It’s Time Education Leveled Up [Infographic]

Explore the exciting world of education through gamification. See how and why it works on kids and adults for improved retention, knowledge, and more in this guest post from our friends at JoyTunes…

How many students have been scolded by parents to put their video game away and get their homework done?

It’s been a common household quarrel for decades, but kids across the globe are finally celebrating the new data that supports gamification as a means of advanced education and learning.

Check out how it’s being applied to students young and old who are learning to play the piano for the first time.

Gamification: What it is & Why it Works

Gamification is the process of utilizing gaming elements outside the standard gaming model to present an idea or achieve a goal. In the field of education, gamification is currently being used to help students learn better.

Jane McGonigal enlightens the world to the benefits of education through gamification in her TED Talk here:

In short, gamification techniques allow students to relate to the material and learning process in a whole new way, a way that is more engaging, interactive, attractive, and quite frankly, fun.

Kids and adults can tackle issues from new angles, relate to the assignment more personally, visualize the problem at hand, organize and compartmentalize tasks, and achieve success based on motivating factors that speak to the individual.

This is Your Brain, This is Your Brain on Gamification

Here are a few facts about gamification that might clue you into the popularity, efficacy, and power of this under-utilized educational tool:

  • By 2015, the gamification industry is projected to exceed $2 billion dollars, while the projected rates are meant to reach $5.5 billion by 2018.
  • Close to 80% of students unilaterally stated that a more game-like atmosphere would increase productivity.
  • 89% of people polled liked the point system for upping their engagement during an eLearning app session. People enjoy the charge that comes from scoring points, out ranking others, and being able to measure their accomplishments with concrete numbers.
  • Skill-based knowledge assessments increased 14%, factual knowledge went up 11%, and retention was even improved by 9% for adults who used eLearning tools with gamification.
  • Of course, not all gamification methods work as well as others. Some less popular techniques for getting the job done (or in this case the lesson learned) included receiving virtual gifts, being part of a story, and avatars.

Gamification in Education

Music Gamified

Learning to play the piano or any instrument is a challenge, no doubt. But mastering this beautiful art is easier, more manageable, and a lot more fun when you combine the strengths and incentives implied by gamification to your music lessons.

Innovative music apps, like JoyTunes, use gamification to help kids and adults learn to play an instrument faster. The principles are simple:

  • Games make learning more fun: The piano lesson is taught in the form of a game.
  • We all like earning points: Points are gained when scales are performed properly.
  • Games require repetition: Repetition makes for good music incorporation and learning. Hence, games equal excellent musical training grounds.

Pretty smart, huh?

Give it a Try!

The infographic above tells the long story of gamification at a glance. The extent of this processing is yet to be discovered, but one thing can be said of gamification for sure: those who tap into this innovative method for teaching, learning, and training are guaranteed to see extraordinary results.

And those that don’t…well, they’ll just be left in the dark.

Guest Post Author: Mya Achidov
This is a guest post from JoyTunes. Mya Achidov is the Blog Editor-in-Chief at JoyTunes, a company that develops award-winning apps to teach you how to play music.

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9 Unusual Love Songs That Are Almost Romantic

9 Unusual Love Songs That Are Almost Romantic

9 Unusual Love Songs That Are Almost RomanticAre you in the mood to listen to typical love songs? If so, you’re in the wrong place! In this article, you’ll get a look at 9 unusual love songs that raise more questions than answers…


We’ve all heard conventional love songs before; When a Man Loves a Woman by Percy Sledge, Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars, and hundreds of thousands more. But what’s so interesting about someone professing their undying love for someone else? Where’s the interesting twist?

Without giving too much away, this article features a list of unusual love songs, or love songs that defy your expectations and deal with unconventional situations. These selections range from the 1960s to the 2010s. Ready to see what’s so unusual about these? Let’s take a look at 9 unusual love songs!

*This list is in no particular order.

1) Computer Love by Zapp and Roger (1985)

The singer seeks a romantic partner through his computer.

Why it’s unusual:
Given the time period, this was quite the unconventional love song. The internet didn’t become a household commodity until the early 90s when the first commercial internet service providers (e.g. AOL) came about. The band, also known as Zapp, was certainly ahead of its time, credited for the inspiration behind the early 90s G-funk sound of hop hop. Finding love through the internet must have seemed like a strange, distant concept when this song was released.

Example lyrics:

You know I’ve been searching for someone
Who can share that special love with me
And your eyes have that glow
Could it be your face I see on my computer screen
Need a special girl, ooh yeah
To share in my computer world, my computer world
I no longer need a strategy
Thanks to modern technology

2) Cupid’s Chokehold by Gym Class Heroes (2005)

The lead singer goes through trials and tribulations finding the right girlfriend.

Why it’s unusual:
The ease at which the singer is able to gush about one girlfriend and move on to the next is astounding. In the music video, Cupid attempts to match the singer with a few different girlfriends. What’s most unusual about this concept is the chorus, in which Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy sings, “Take a look at my girlfriend, she’s the only one I got. Not much of a girlfriend, I never seem to get a lot.” Even though the singer’s verses sound sweet and romantic toward his new love interests, one can’t help but feel cheated by his kind words.

Example lyrics:

It’s been some time since we’ve last spoke
This is gonna sound like a bad joke
But Momma, I fell in love again
It’s safe to say I have a new girlfriend
And I know it sounds so old
But Cupid got me in a chokehold
And I’m afraid I might give in
Towel’s on the mat, my white flag is wavin’

3) What’s New Pussycat by Tom Jones (1965)

A man sings relentlessly about the facial features of a woman.

Why it’s unusual:
A catchy melody can’t mask the lyrics of this unusual love song. While many love songs attempt to make the love interest sound appealing in terms of personality or temperament, this one makes no attempt whatsoever. The singer goes on and on about the nose, eyes, and lips of a woman he finds beautiful. By the off-chance a woman DOES finds these lyrics appealing, we’ll be sure to take this off of the “unusual” list.

Example lyrics:

Pussycat, Pussycat
I’ve got flowers
And lots of hours
To spend with you
So go and powder your cute little pussycat nose!
Pussycat, Pussycat
I love you
Yes, I do!
You and your pussycat nose!

4) She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5  (2002)

A man sings about his obsession with making a sad girl happy.

Why it’s unusual:
The singer drives miles and miles to wait outside the house of an insecure, vulnerable 18-year-old woman. Regardless of how the woman feels, the singer says he “wouldn’t mind” standing on her street corner in the pouring rain, waiting for her to approach him. Even though the sentiment of sweetness is there, the imagery of a street stalker sours this unusual love song’s mood a bit.

Example lyrics:

I know where you hide
Alone in your car
Know all of the things that make you who you are
I know that goodbye means nothing at all

5) Ben by Michael Jackson (1972)

A boy sings about his new friendship and how it makes him feel.

Why it’s unusual:
It’s not a traditional love song, but it exhibits many qualities of one; loneliness, insecurity, and understanding. What makes this love song unusual is the fact that it’s about a boy professing his admiration for… his pet rat. It was originally written for a movie about a rat named Ben, but it eventually sold itself as a single, even ranking #20 on the Billboard Top 100 during its release. While it’s still a nice song about a child’s love for a pet, it’s not as deep as a traditional love song would usually permit.

Example lyrics:

Ben, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With a friend to call my own
I’ll never be alone
And you my friend will see
You’ve got a friend in me

6) Mirrors by Justin Timblerlake (2013)

The singer professes his love for someone because they remind him of himself.

Why it’s unusual:
While couples usually thrive because they share common interests, the singer here thrives off of dating a carbon copy of himself. It’s nice to admire the qualities of a person who you think reflects your own traits, but calling them a mirror voids them of any individuality. Play this song for someone you love when you’re feeling especially narcissistic.

Example lyrics:

I can’t ever change without you
You reflect me, I love that about you
And if I could, I
Would look at us all the time

7) Sweet Tangerine by The Hush Sound (2006)

A desperate ex-boyfriend pleads for his girlfriend to come back to him.

Why it’s unusual:
Upon first listen, you may be too distracted by the upbeat nature of the song to really listen to the lyrics. The lyrics start with the singer trapped outside, freezing in the rain, hoping to be let inside by his ex-girlfriend. He made a mistake in their past relationship and tries to justify it by saying, “Without the sour, the sweet wouldn’t taste as…” In just a couple verses later, the song quickly turns into the tale of a desperate stalker breaking into his ex’s house and waiting under her bed until she wakes up. Can you see how it’s one of the more unusual love songs?

Example lyrics:

Crept through the curtains, as quick as the cold wind
Slowly exploring the room where you sleep
The stare of your portrait, the passing of your scent
Left me no choice but to stay

I will dissolve into the dark beneath your bed
My hands will wait for a taste of your skin

 8) These Foolish Things by Sam Cooke (1962)

The singer thinks about his lover every time he experiences certain phenomena.

Why it’s unusual:
It’s a sweet song to sing to your lover… but only after they’ve passed away. In the singer’s everyday life, he sees, hears, and smells things that remind him of his former sweetheart. If you choose to ignore the lyrics about the “ghost”, you can get away with singing this to someone you love!

Example lyrics:

The sigh of midnight trains in empty stations
Silk stockings thrown aside dance invitations
Oh how the ghost of you clings
These foolish things
Remind me of you

9) What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction (2011)

The singers are infatuated with a girl they deem as insecure and unaware of her beauty.

Why it’s unusual:
No matter how many compliments you give someone on their physical appearance, it won’t change their internalized insecurities. The singers in this song seem to think otherwise, noting that what makes the girl beautiful is the fact that she doesn’t know she’s beautiful. It’s a concept that makes sense if you don’t think about it much.

Example lyrics:

If only you saw what I can see
You’ll understand why I want you so desperately
Right now I’m looking at you and I can’t believe
You don’t know, you don’t know you’re beautiful
That’s what makes you beautiful

BONUS: Every Breath You Take by The Police (1983)

A singer vows to look after his love interest in an obsessive way.

Why it’s unusual:
If you listen to this song once, it’ll become immediately apparent that the singer is actually a stalker. No matter what the love interest does in their everyday life, the singer wants to watch them do it. Even Sting, the lead singer of The Police, said that the song was deliberately about a stalker. It’s certainly not the greatest song to sing at a wedding.

Example lyrics:

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you


See what we mean about unusual love songs? Trust us, there are PLENTY more of these out there! If you’re interested in songwriting but aren’t sure how to begin, consider scheduling a private lesson with a songwriting teacher. With some practice, maybe you’ll make the next list of unusual love songs!


Were any of these unusual love songs surprising? Know any more? Comment below with your thoughts!

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benefits of listening to classical music

10 Shocking Benefits of Listening to Classical Music [Infographic]


benefits of listening to classical music

Chances are you’ve heard that there are several benefits of listening to classical music. But is there any actual truth behind this statement? According to numerous studies, there absolutely is.

There are a ton of brainy benefits one derives from listening to classical music. From pain management to improved sleep quality, listening to classical music has both mental and physical benefits.

In fact, simply listening to classical music as background noise can have a significant impact on your mood, productivity, and creativity.

I guess those old guys were really onto something, huh.

Below are some surprising benefits of listening to classical music backed by actual science.

benefits of listening to classical music

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10 Benefits of Listening to Classical Music

1. Decreases blood pressure

Want to keep your heart healthy? According to an Oxford University study, listening to classical music can help reduce one’s blood pressure.

In the study, researchers played participants different styles of music, including rap, pop, techno, and classical.

Classical music was effective at lowering participant’s blood pressure, while rap, pop, and techno actually raised blood pressure.

2. Boosts memory

Did you know that listening to Mozart can actually help improve your memory? According to a study, people who listened to Mozart’s music showed an increase in brain wave activity that’s linked directly to memory.

So next time you have to memorize a big speech or presentation, put on some Mozart while you practice.

3. Sparks creativity

To get your creative juices flowing, listen to some classical music. While listening to classical music won’t instantly make you creative, it will help put into a more creative mindset.

Next time you need to brainstorm, try listening to some Mozart or Bach to get your mind thinking outside the box.

4. Reduces stress levels

If you’re feeling particularly stressed, listen to some classical tunes. A study found that pregnant women who listened to classical music were less likely to feel stressed throughout their pregnancy.

Scientists claim that classical music’s tempo is similar to the human heart, which eases both anxiety and depression.

5. Supercharges brainpower

Do you have a big test or project coming up? Boost your brainpower by listening to some classical music.

In a study, French researchers found that students who listened to a lecture in which classical music was played in the background scored better on a test compared to other students.

6. Fights depression

When you’re feeling down in the dumps, ditch the donuts and opt for some classical music instead.

Several studies have proven that classical music helps relieve depression and melancholy.

In fact, a study from Mexico discovered that listening to classical music can help ease symptoms of depression.

7. Puts you to sleep

Do you toss and turn for hours before finally falling asleep? Rather than squeeze in another episode of Games of Thrones or New Girl, listen to classical music.

According to a study of people with sleep issues, listening to classical music for just 45 minutes prior to bed can help improve sleep quality.

8. Relieves pain

Instead of reaching for another Tylenol, you might want to consider playing a Bach or Beethoven playlist. Multiple studies have shown that listening to classical music can help relieve pain.

According to researchers in London, patients listening to classical music used significantly less pain medication.

9. Makes you happy

Want to get out of that bad mood you’re in? Listening to classical music can help increase dopamine secretion, which activates the brain’s reward and pleasure center.

In fact, a 2013 study found that music can help put people in a better mood.

10. Improves productivity

It’s a Monday morning and you can’t seem to get it together. To help boost productivity, listen to some classical music.

A series of studies have proven that music makes repetitive tasks more enjoyable.

A study performed by researchers at the University of Maryland found that Baroque classical music in the reading room can help improve radiologists’ efficiency and accuracy.

Give it a Try!

While classical music can’t raise your IQ 10 points, there are a ton of benefits of listening to classical music.

Whether you need to cram for an important presentation or you simply want a good night’s sleep, classical music can help.

Don’t just take our word for it. Try it out for yourself and let us know what benefits of listening to classical music you experience! It’s worth a try.

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100+ Online Tools and Resources for Musicians

Are you ready to take the music scene by storm? As a musician, you’re well aware of how difficult it is to make a name for yourself or your band.

Practicing until the wee hours of the night, juggling several odd jobs, and traveling to play multiple gigs are just a few of the sacrifices you make as a musician.

Luckily, there are a ton of online music resources that can help make your life easier, including platforms that help you find gigs and websites that assist in promoting your band.

Since we know you’re busy being a rock star, we’ve rounded up over 100 of the best online music resources that will help take your career to the next level.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the game for some time, these music resources are sure to help you.


Sick of rehearsing in your studio apartment? Or is your current space too expensive? Here’s a list of online resources that you can use to find the perfect rehearsal space that fits within your budget.

  • Fractured Atlas: Through their SpaceFinder program, Fractured Atlas helps artists find the space they need, while helping venues promote and rent their spaces. It’s a win-win.
  • Musicnomad: Musicnomad does all the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is type in your zip code, specify the mile radius, and choose your perfect space.
  • Rehearsal space finder: Rehearsal Space Finder is another easy-to-use service. Just enter your location and what you’re looking for and you will be presented with a list of nearby venues.
  • Craigslist: If you’re looking for a low-cost option, browse Craigslist for a rehearsal space near you. Oftentimes, rates are more negotiable.

Booking gigs on a consistent basis is extremely important for both promotional and monetary reasons. Here’s a list of online tools that will help you book more music gigs.

  • Gigsalad: Gigsalad, a platform in which party planners can find and book talent, is great for local musicians. Signing up is easy; all you have to do is create a profile and wait to get booked.
  • ReverbNation: ReverbNation is dedicated to helping emerging artists build their careers. The platform’s “Gig Finder” tool helps artists connect with different venues, festivals, publishers, and labels.
  • Gigmasters: Similar to Gigsalad, Gigmasters is a platform where people can book various vendors, including DJ’s, singers, and live bands. The website allows you to create a customized profile and choose from a range of memberships.
  • Splitgigs: Splitgigs is a unique social network that allows artists to “split” their gigs with other artists. This website is great for those who are just getting their feet wet. You can also find music gigs uploaded by venues and organizers.

Additional tools:

Need some help promoting your band? Below are some great websites for getting your name out there and generating fans. Don’t forget social media too!

  • CDbaby: CDbaby has a number of different partnerships with brands that can help promote your band. For example, FanBridge, PledgeMusic, and
  • Dizzyjam: Dizzyjam is a free online service in which musicians can create and sell branded merchandise. To get started, create your personalized shop, and then develop products for sale.
  • BandPage: BandPage is another easy-to-use platform. Upload your profile, bio, pictures, videos, tracks, and tour dates and BandPage will update that information across the Web for you.
  • BandApp: Perfect for musicians who have a solid fan base, BandApp allows users to share music, tour dates, and news directly with fans—for free!
  • Music Gorilla: Music Gorilla connects artists with industry professionals. Artists can sign up, upload music, and create a profile page. What’s more, the company does live, label showcases and provides artists with film and television placement opportunities.

Additional tools:

Whether you want to share one song or an entire album, there are a variety of websites in which you can share your music with fans around the world.  Check out the ones below!

  • Radio Airplay: With Radio Airplay, musicians’ music plays on stations featuring the popular artists they choose. What’s more, artists have access to reports and data about their fan base.
  • Stageit: With Stagit, artists perform live online shows via their mobile device. Fans can ask questions or request songs. Fans can also monetarily support their favorite artists.
  • On SoundCloud: On SoundCloud is SoundCloud’s newest partner program for musicians. It allows artists to upload music, build a profile, and manage stats.
  • Melody Fusion: Melody Fusion is a website in which artists can share their music for free. Musicians can also get feedback from their peers, take master classes, and find a mentor.

Additional tools:

Keeping track of your finances, tour dates, and more can be exhausting, especially if you’re doing it all yourself. Here’s a list of online tools that will help you better manage everything.

  • Bandbook: Bandbook makes your life easier. Within the platform, you can manage your schedule, track your expenses, and send private messages to anyone with a Bandbook account.
  • Artist Growth: Great for both managers and musicians, Artist Growth helps individuals schedule events, create reports, track finances, and manage tour merch all from one place.
  • TeamSnap: With TeamSnap, you can manage member’s contact information, coordinate upcoming events, track group fees, and share files within the group.
  • BandHelper: BandHelper takes care of all the annoying logistical details—such as expense reports, set lists, and more—so you can concentrate on making music.

Additional tools:

Entering music competitions is a great way to get exposure, connect with industry folks, and earn some much-needed cash. Check out the music competitions below.

  • Unsigned Only: Unsigned Only was produced by the same team that created the International Songwriting Competition. Solo artists, bands, and singers can enter a wide range of categories, including rock, pop, country, and vocal performance.
  • OurStage: Artists can enter original music into any of OurStage’s genre-based channels for a chance to win. Winners are featured on Amazing Radio, which boasts an international listening audience of thousands.
  • Hal Leonard Vocal Competition: The Hal Leonard Vocal Competition is a music competition for voice students comprised entirely of YouTube video entries.
  • International Songwriting Competition: The International Songwriting Competition is an annual song contest for amateur and established songwriters. The contest is judged by an impressive panel of judges, offering great exposure for artists.

Additional tools

Brush up on industry trends and get expert advice from peers by browsing through these awesome online music resources. Don’t forget to bookmark your favorite ones!

  • Passive Promotion: Created by Brian Hazard, a music veteran with 20 years of experience, Passive Promotion gives artists applicable advice about music promotion. He also regularly features reviews about new platforms.
  • Hypebot: Hypebot features a variety of useful articles for artists. For example, the website features dedicated pages on social media use and music technology.
  • Music Industry Inside Out: Music Industry Inside Out is a music industry knowledge hub filled with expert advice from music industry professionals. The website offers different course topics, such as funding your music, book keeping, and applying for festivals.
  • Make it in Music: Make it in Music is a great website for emerging artists. It has a ton of advice about how to make it big, including how to build your fan base and how to approach a record label.
  • New Artist Model: New Artist Model, an online music business school for artists, has an amazing blog, which regularly features strategies and advice for independent musicians.

Additional tools:

Do you need a branded website or flyers for your next show? Here’s a list of online resources that can help you develop and organize different kinds of marketing materials.

  • BandZoogle: Bandzoogle describes itself as a website builder created by musicians for musicians. The website will help you create a customized website where you can sell merch, tickets, videos, and more.
  • CASH Music: This nonprofit organization helps musicians manage their mailing list, sell music, and organize their digital world—free of charge!
  • Haulix: Haulix is a one-stop-shop for musicians. Using the platform, you can create promos, manage contacts, track progress, and more.
  • Bandcamp: This free service does just about everything. Not only can artists share music with fans, but they can also get stats on who’s linking to them, where their music is embedded, and which tracks are most and least popular.

Additional tools:

Are you looking to join or start a band? Or maybe you just want to network with other musicians? Here are some music resources that can help you do just that.

  • Bandlink: Using Bandlink, users can hook up with other local musicians. Just create a profile including the instruments and styles you play and search for bands/musicians in your area.
  • Kompoz: Kompoz is the ultimate collaboration tool for artists. The website allows you to upload your song idea and collaborate with other musicians from around the world.
  • Indaba Music: Indaba is a place where musicians can collaborate with some of the biggest artists and bands in the world to create new music.
  • Bandmix: Bandmix is the largest musicians wanted and musician classifieds website. Users can search through thousands of musicians in their area.

Additional tools:

As a musician, you’re always working on your craft. Here’s a list of educational music resources that will help you sharpen your musical skills so you can perform at your best.

  • is a great online resource if you want to learn more about music theory. It has tons of free exercises and tools.
  • TakeLessons: TakeLessons is an online marketplace boasting hundreds of high-quality music teachers who specialize in everything from flute to guitar. Take music lessons in the comfort of your own home or tour bus with its mobile app.
  • If you’re looking for sheet music, look no further than The website has tons of free sheet music in a wide range of musical styles, such as blues, classic rock, contemporary, and country.
  • Berklee Online: Berklee Online’s video library has a number of educational videos, including in-depth lessons, exclusive clinics, and course overviews that artists are sure to find helpful.

Additional tools:

Looking for some top-notch gear to help sound your best? Here’s a list of online music equipment stores that offer high-quality instruments and gear at great prices.

  • Music Go Round: Music Go Around sells used musical instruments, such as guitars, amps, drums, and violins, at competitive prices. As an added bonus, you can sell or trade-in your old gear.
  • Music123: From lighting and stage effects to orchestra, Music123 offers over 65,000 products. The website boasts in-depth product information and reviews.
  • Musician’s Friend: Musician’s Friend has a great selection of music instruments and equipment. Don’t forget to check out their blog, called The HUB, for artist interviews, product reviews, buying guides, and more.
  • Sweetwater: Sweetwater is dedicated to keeping its customers satisfied, which is why the company offers a wide range of gear at great prices and free shipping to lower 48 states.

Additional tools:

  • SongTrust: SongTrust ensures that musicians and songwriters are able to confidently manage their music publishing. The website simplifies everything from the administration of music publishing assets to digital licensing.
  • SonicAngel: SonicAngel offers several different options for artists. For example, musicians can crowdfund their campaigns on the platform of its partner,
  • CoPromote: CoPromote is a network of artists dedicated to helping one another grow their fan base by cross-promoting social posts.
  • Radar Music Videos: Need a music video? Through Radar, artists can reach out to up and coming filmmakers to get their music video developed.

Additional tools:

Get Out There!

Let’s face it; making it in the music industry is hard–but not impossible. Take advantage of these 100+ online music resources and tools to help manage, promote, and distribute your music. Good luck!

Did we miss your favorite online music tool or resource? Tell us about it in the comments below and we will add it to the list!

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easy guitar songs

How to Play Guitar Like David Bowie: Celebrating A Legend

easy guitar songs

The best way to celebrate the life of music legend David Bowie is to remember his impact and play his songs. Here, guitar instructor Matt K. teaches you to play five easy guitar songs that Bowie made famous..

The recent passing of rock ‘n’ roll icon David Bowie sent a shockwave through the world. Bowie’s music and message meant so much to so many people. He had the talent to remain relevant within the entertainment industry since his big break with Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars in 1972.

He created 27 full-length albums, appeared in over 20 films and television series, and was a part of countless collaborations. He also wrote the famous “All the Young Dudes” for Mott The Hoople, just because he liked the band and they needed a hit to prevent them from breaking up. From “Life On Mars” to “Lazarus“, his music is a major reason why many, including myself, picked up an instrument and began to play.

I’ve compiled a list of five easy guitar songs, which are essential Bowie hits. Each song has the signature riff on guitar written in tablature, or the chords that shape it.

“The Man Who Sold the World” – 1970

I’m going to start with “The Man Who Sold the World” because many of you probably think Kurt Cobain wrote this for Nirvana. They did a cover of the song on MTV Unplugged in 1994.

It features a very simple riff that serves as a hook throughout the song.
E – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – }
B – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – }
G 2 2 2 0 2h3 2 0 2 2 2 0 2h3 2 0 2 2 2 0 2h3 2 0 2 2 2 0 2h3 2 0 2 }
D – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – }
A – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – }
E – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – }

You can find the rest of the tab here.

“Ziggy Stardust”

Ziggy Stardust was David Bowie’s alter ego that catapulted him to success in 1972. This was when the American public was first truly introduced to David Bowie.
G x D Cadd9 G Am
B|3——-x——-3—3—3—3—|–3—–3—–3—–3—–3—3-| G|0——-x——-2———–2—|0—0——-0—0—————| D|0——-x——-0—————|——————————–| A|2——-x———————–|3—–3—–2—–2—–0—0—| E|3——-x———————–|——————————–|

Get the full Ziggy Stardust tab here.

“Rebel Rebel” – 1974

Next, on our list of easy guitar songs, we have one of the most recognized guitar riffs in the history of rock “n” roll. Like “Ziggy Stardust, the following riff drives the entire song.


P = pull off

“Rebel Rebel” tab from Ultimate Guitar.

“Fame” – 1975

“Fame” was a popular song that was released at the height of Bowie’s popularity. He was an established rock star with several hits under his belt.

This song was co-written by John Lennon. He also provided backing vocals.


b =bend up
s = slide

Here is a great video that explains the song.

“Heros” 1977

“Heros” is the outlier on this easy guitar songs list. It doesn’t feature a signature riff like the previous four. The emotion belted out at the end of the song makes the song Bowie’s most inspirational.

Here are the chords and lyrics:

I – I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins – like dolphins can swim
Though nothing – nothing will keep us together
Am Em D
We can beat them forever and ever
Oh we can be Heroes just for one day

You can find the rest of the chords here:

If that is too much, try the bass line.:



There was  one song I left out from this list of easy guitar songs, “Space Oddity”, because it has a few techniques that may be new for beginners. If you want to learn how to play the David Bowie hit, check out this”Space Oddity” video tutorial.

David Bowie’s memory will live on forever through his music. Celebrate his life and learn to play his songs! 

Matthew KPost Author:
 Matt K.
Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matthew here!

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space oddity chords

David Bowie Tribute: “Space Oddity” Guitar Tutorial [Video]

space oddity chords

The music world lost one of its brightest stars this week, as legendary musician David Bowie passed away Monday at the age of 69. To celebrate Bowie’s life and tremendous talent, TakeLessons guitar instructor Jonathan B. put together this special guitar tutorial to help you learn to play one of Bowie’s classic songs.

In this step-by-step tutorial, learn the Space Oddity chords and the special techniques Bowie used to play his acoustic hits. Pay special attention to the left-hand chord voicings and the guitar chord progressions used throughout the song.


David Bowie – Space Oddity chords
Intro: Fmaj7/E Em Fmaj7/E Em

C/G Em C/G Em
Ground control to Major Tom Ground control to Major Tom
Am Am/G D/F#
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
C/G Em C/G Em
Ground control to Major Tom commencing countdown engines on
Am Am/G D/F#
Check ignition and may God’s love be with you


This is ground control to Major Tom you’ve really made the grade
Fm C/G F
And the papers want to know whose shirt you wear
Fm C/G F
Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare
This is Major Tom to ground control I’m stepping through the door
Fm C/G F
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
Fm C/G F
And the stars look very different today
Fmaj7 G6 Fmaj7 G6
For here am I sitting in a tin can far above the world
Bb Am G F
Planet earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do


Fmaj7 G A C D E
Though I’m cross one hundred thousand miles I’m feeling very still
Fm C F
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Fm C F
Tell my wife I love her very much she knows
G E7/G# Am C/G
Ground control to Major Tom, your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me Major Tom?
Can you hear me Major Tom?
Can you hear me Major Tom? Can you …
E Fmaj7 Fmaj7 G6
… here am I floating in my tin can far above the world
Bb Am G F
Planet earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do


Fmaj7 Em A C D E


Learn how to play more of David Bowie’s hits with this easy guitar songs guide.

We will always be grateful to Mr. Bowie for his contributions to music and the world. What’s your favorite David Bowie song? What will you remember most about the legendary musician?

Jonathan BPost Author: Jonathan B.
Jonathan B. is a guitar instructor, Temple University Music Theory graduate, and YouTube creator living in State College, PA. Learn more about Jonathan here!

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10 Essential Easy Guitar Chords for Beginners


Start playing songs today thanks to this lesson in guitar chords for beginners from teacher Jerry W.

You have a new guitar and you are excited to learn how to play it. So, you start looking through a chord book or looking at chord diagrams online and find yourself completely overwhelmed.  There are hundreds of possible chords!

Even if we simplify it down to just the major and minor chords, we still have 24 chords and some of these chords are difficult for a beginner to play.

Still feeling a little overwhelmed? Let me make this much easier. Learn these 10 guitar chords for beginners and you can play almost any song.

Most popular songs are made up of only three or four chords. For those of you with a little music theory knowledge these are the I, IV, V and possibly vi.  If you add to this the ii chord you will be ready for just about any song.

I am going to show you which easy guitar chords to learn in the four keys of C, G, D and A. All you need to know is how to read a guitar chord diagram. If you then learn how to use a capo, you will be able to play almost any song in any key. Simple!

Guitar Chords for Beginners in the Key of C


Our first four chords will allow you to play most songs that are in the key of C.

  1. The C chord is the main chord in the key:C Chord
  2. The F chord can be played one of two ways. This is the hardest of all 10 chords to play because it requires the use of a barre. If you have trouble doing a full barre you might find the first version easier to play. Learn one of these forms of F:F Chord Partial Barre

orF Chord Full Barre

  1. The G chord is typically played using this form:G Chord
  2. The Am chord adds a little color to a chord progression:Am Chord

Once you have learned these four chords you can play most songs that are in the key of C and with the use of a capo you can play most other songs. That wasn’t too hard, was it? Only four chords and you are already well on your way to playing most songs.

Here is a simple chord pattern in C that uses all four chords.

C Example

Guitar Chords for Beginners in the Key of G


You have already learned the G and C chord so now you only need to learn two more chords to be able to play songs in the key of G. And, as a bonus, you already know one other chord in the key of G, the Am chord. So learn these two chords and you will be able to play five chords in the key of G!

  1. The D chord.D Chord
  2. The Em chord is one of the easiest chords to play. It only uses two fingers.Em Chord

Here is a chord pattern in the key of G that uses all five chords in the key.

G Example

Guitar Chords for Beginners in the Key of D


Once more we only need to learn two more chords to play in the key of D.

  1. The A chord.: A Chord
  2. The Bm7 chord. The Bm7 is easier to play then the Bm chord and can be used just about anywhere you see a Bm chord.Bm7 Chord

Here is a chord pattern in the key of D that uses all five chords in the key.

D Example


Guitar Chords for Beginners in the Key of A


And finally, two more chords to allow us to play in the key of A.

  1. The E chord.E Chord
  2. The F#m7 chord is easier to play than the F#m chord and can be used almost anywhere you find and F#m chord.F#m7

Here is a chord pattern in the key of A that uses all five chords.

A Example

How to Use These Guitar Chords

10 guitar chords for beginners

  1. Remember that anytime you see a chord with a 7 or 9 after it, you can simply play the easier version. So, for instance, a G7 chord can be played as a G chord without any problems. So until you lean the extended versions of these chords, just use the simple version.
  2. Most minor chords can be played either with or without the 7. The extended version has a little more color but will usually work fine in the place of the regular chord. So, for example, if you see an Bm chord, you can usually play a Bm7 chord. Just use the version of the chord that is easiest for you to play.
  3. A suspended chord, written as a sus or sus4, can usually be replaced by the regular chord without the suspension, but only if everyone playing makes that change. Sometimes, though the suspension is necessary to fit with the melody line, so that substitution is not always effective. You will have to use your ear to see if it works.

If you remember these simple rules you will find that all you need to play most music are these 10 guitar chords for beginners and a capo.

You Might Also Like: The Big List of Easy Guitar Songs

Take it to the Next Level!

For an extra challenge learn the suspended chords for G, D, A, E and you will find that you can play almost every chord you find in songs from the Key of C, G, D and A.

Now, learn to use a capo and you can play almost any song that is in a major key and even a few minor keys.

And best of all, almost all of these guitar chords for beginners are simple chords that any new guitarist can learn!

What do you want to learn on the guitar? Share your guitar goals in the comments below!

JerryPost Author: Jerry W.
Jerry W. teaches classical guitar, composition, trombone and trumpet in Grosse Pointe, MI. He received his Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from Cornerstone University and went on to receive both his Masters and PhD in Music Composition from Michigan State University.  Jerry has been making music and teaching students for over thirty years.

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Guitar for Beginners: 5 New Years Resolutions for Learning Guitar


Make this year your most musical year yet with these excellent new years resolutions for learning guitar for beginners by guitar teacher Kirk R.

Pick Up Your Guitar Everyday

To some this may seem daunting, and to others it might sound obvious.

Regardless of which side of that you’re on, getting your hands on your guitar often is an important step in learning, especially when you’re just starting out.

This is true in most other areas of study as well, but if you’re learning to walk or learning a language, you have to tools to practice it with you at all times.

As a side note here, you can also make lots of progress doing what I call mental practice. The idea is just that you use your analytical and visualization skills to solve problems with your playing without ever picking up your instrument. There are many ways to go about that, but I’ll leave that for a future post!


Picking up your guitar often allows your body and mind to create a sense of normalcy while you’re playing. When you want to walk somewhere, you probably don’t think about which joints of your legs need to bend and at exactly what time, you just begin walking. Guitar can be much the same!

You don’t have to plan long practice sessions everyday. Usually just picking it up and playing through something that you’re working on is enough. If it’s a busy day, it might be only a few minutes, and that’s ok.

If you have more time, but not all at once, try a few minutes before school or work and then again between dinner and bed.

Figure out what works in your schedule and make it a part of your day!

Check out: 50 Little Things You Can Do To Get More From Your Guitar Practice Time

Practice With a Metronome


Aside from an instrument, the metronome is the most helpful item that a musician can have. If you don’t have one already, they can be found very cheaply. Though I have a few, I most commonly use a metronome app that I downloaded for free.

Metronomes can be frustrating little devices, but they will make you a better player. It’s important to remember that they often work like a mirror. If you’re noticing mistakes when you play with a metronome that you didn’t notice before, chances are, you were already making it (or a similar mistake).

When you see more mistakes than before, it may seem like you are suddenly less skilled than you thought yourself before, but remember, when you notice mistakes you’re making, you can immediately start working to correct them!

Start slowly (slower than you think you need to) and work up to your desired speed a notch or two at a time. This might seem tedious, but it’s a great way to work up to fast speeds in no time.

Rhythm is one of the most important aspects of your playing (even more than hitting the right notes!) so if you want to build your skills, a device that helps to keep your rhythm accurate is indispensable.

Check out: 13 Guitar Apps We Can’t Live Without

Learn a Song in a New Style or Genre


I’m not suggesting here that you become a jack of all trades sort of musician. I’ve seen many of them over the years, and it seems like very few of them have mastered all, or any, of the styles that they’re playing. What I am saying is learn something in a different style so that you can look at the music that you really want to play with a new and wider perspective.

I once spent some time studying with a guy who was experienced in Brazilian choro guitar. He looked at the music that I was already playing at the time very differently than I did.

His whole approach was totally different and it forced me to take note of things in the music that I had never payed any attention to before.

It’s that sort of experience that will make you a better musician in the long run. If you play mostly rock now, try something classical; learning jazz? Try playing metal.

Maybe something less contrasting. If you play folk from tab, try playing folk from sheet music. If you’re used to reading sheet music, try playing from a lead sheet/chord chart.

Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone will not only make you a more versatile player, but it will help you improve the way that you play your usual music.

Check out: The Big List of Easy Guitar Songs

Set Goals


Set one goal that seems impossible now and one that you know you can accomplish

No matter what kind of successful person you talk to, they will all agree that setting goals is helpful. This is a simple suggestion, but it can take a variety of forms.

The important part of this suggestion is to have something that you can keep you eye on for a long time; something that keeps driving you forward, as well as something that is totally achievable and reminds you that you’re making progress.

The “reach goal” could be something like a difficult song that you want to learn, or to memorize a certain number of songs.

For the easier goal, maybe it’s making a change between two specific chords, playing in front of someone once a month, or to get a song that you’re already learning up to a certain tempo.

Whatever you choose for your goals, make sure that they are measureable. If you want to get a song up to a certain tempo, make sure that the tempo is specific: 136 bpm instead of ‘fast’.

Check out: How to Learn Guitar: Setting Goals, Staying Motivated, and More!

Add Guitar Exercises to Your Practice Routine

This may not seem as exciting as your usual guitar practice, but I would argue that given the right mindset and exercise, it can be as interesting and engaging as practicing music.

It might come as a surprise to some (though perhaps I’m wrong) that I’m making a distinction between music and exercises.

It’s important to play inherently non-musical exercises, though there is value in exercise-like pieces of music as well. The reason for this is that the goal of an exercise is one of physical movement on the instrument.


In order to carefully work on this aspect of playing, we have to take the emotion and desire to make our playing sound a certain way out of the equation.

Have you ever noticed that when you start to learn a song that you have often listened to, you usually start playing faster than your hands can really keep up? It’s because you’re used to hearing it a certain way, and your brain is telling your hands to play the way it thinks the song should sound.

When you’re using a non-musical exercise to develop skills in your fingers, you don’t have the same sort of drive as learning a song, even one you haven’t heard before.

There are probably millions of exercises that you can choose from, but don’t be overwhelmed.

Find one that addresses an aspect of your playing that you want to improve. Treat this exercise like weight lifting. First, make sure it’s of reasonable difficulty. You don’t walk into a gym the first day and start lifting the heaviest weights available.

Second, when you are comfortable playing through the exercise while focusing on the technical aspects and they all come out as you want them to, don’t abandon the exercise! It’s not meant to be a badge that you earn and display. It’s a regular tool that you use to keep your chops in shape.

Once a weight lifter lifts the heaviest weight available, they don’t stop lifting it, but they keep coming back to it, perhaps adding more reps, or just using it to maintain their current abilities.

Check out: 3 Simple Guitar Exercises You’ll Never Outgrow

Did you make any musical resolutions this year? Share them with us in the comments below!

Kirk RPost Author:
 Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical, bass, and acoustic guitar instructor in Denver, CO. He earned a bachelors of music in Guitar performance at The College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati and he is currently pursuing a masters degree in performance.  Learn more about Kirk here!

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The Ultimate Guide to Notes on Guitar

The Ultimate Guide to Notes on a Guitar

The Ultimate Guide to Notes on Guitar

Whether you want to learn to improvise jaw-dropping solos, play brilliant classical etudes, or anything in between, learning where to find notes on a guitar is an important step in your musical journey.

How Guitar Strings Work


Understanding the basic mechanics and parts of a guitar is important in understanding how to play each note on a guitar.

In the simplest of definitions, a guitar works by disrupting air around the strings, creating a vibration. That vibration is then amplified by the hollow chamber (in the cause of an acoustic guitar) of the guitar and by the guitar bridge to create the sounds you hear.

The speed and depth of the string’s vibration influences the pitch of the sound that comes from the guitar.

Electric guitars work in a similar fashion, but instead of the sound vibrating through a hollow chamber, the sounds of the strings vibrating against the bridge are amplified by an outside speaker. Electric guitars, on their own, are very quiet.

The strings don’t produce much noise unless an amp is attached, because the sound of the string has no hollow chamber to travel into.

A traditional guitar has six strings. Each string is responsible for a different note.

The string’s width influences the amount of vibration that’s produced by the string, which influences the sound of each note.

The length of the string also comes into play. You may notice that a mandolin, for example, has a higher pitch than a traditional acoustic guitar. This is because the strings are shorter, and thus the sound needs less time to travel.

Frets, which will be covered in-depth below, can help you change the pitch of a note, or change the note of a string to a completely different one.

Notes on a guitar are both fluid and concrete. An open string on a well-tuned guitar will always be the same note, but pressing the frets down to alter the distance between the string and the bridge can completely change the resulting sound.

Guitar String Notes


The notes on a guitar are created by the strings of the guitar.

When holding a guitar, the thickest string, the E string, is at the top of the guitar. The E note is the deepest note.

The strings get progressively thinner and the notes get progressively higher in pitch. They’re responsible for the A, D, G, B and e notes, respectively.

The thinnest string, which is situated at the bottom of the guitar when you’re holding it, is responsible for the e note, which is two octaves up from the low E note.

As you may note on your guitar, there are also marks along the neck of guitar. These markers indicate the different frets on the guitar. Your guitar may have anywhere between 16 and 24 frets.

When you strum a string without pressing down on a fret, it’s known as an open chord. Each fret represents one half-step of the musical scale.

In order to play a higher pitch note, regardless of the string you’re playing, your hands would be placed on a fret closer to the bridge of the guitar. If you’re fretting at the second fret marker on the guitar, the low E turns into an F sharp, which is often denoted as F#.

Focusing on the low E string, holding down the first fret will produce an F, while holding down the second fret will produce an F#; the third fret will produce a G and the fourth, a G#. The seventh fret on the low E string will produce the B note, while the eighth fret will produce the C note.

This process can be replicated on each of the remaining five strings.

How to Learn Guitar Notes


For the novice guitar player, the above information may seem complicated. Remember: rock stars, professional session players, and even music teachers started at the same place you are now.

The good news, however, is that if you can master the notes on a guitar and gain an in-depth understanding of how they work, you’re well on your way to truly understanding music theory and being able to play the songs you hear on the radio on your guitar. So, you’re probably wondering about the best ways to learn notes on a guitar.

Private Lessons

Learning to play a musical instrument isn’t easy, especially for individuals who have never picked up the instrument before. The guitar, in particular, can seem confusing, but it really is a relatively straightforward instrument to play, and once a student understand the basics, it’s perhaps the most enjoyable instrument out there.

To learn the basics, including the anatomy of a guitar, students would be best served learning from a private instructor.

A private instructor can offer the guidance and explanation needed for students to truly understand the structure of the guitar.

This is important framework for understanding how notes on a guitar work, and how they work together to create chords, chord progressions, and eventually songs.

Mnemonic Devices

To start learning the notes on a guitar, you’ll need to memorize them.

To do this, you can take yourself back in time to when you were first in grammar school. At some point you probably used mnemonic devices to remember grammar rules or the planets in the solar system.

Simply put, a mnemonic device is a technique that helps you remember something by attaching a rhyming scheme to it, or a phrase.

When it comes to the notes on a guitar, the strings progress as E, A, D, G, B, E. Several professional musicians use the mnemonic device, “Eddie ate dynamite, good-bye Eddie:”







Mnemonic devices can help you remember the names of each note, but for this to be truly helpful, you’ll need to memorize them with the guitar in front of you.

Playing each note while reciting it out loud is perhaps the best way to learn the basics. Experts suggest starting with open notes. An open note, as you know, is simply the act of strumming a string without fretting.

Memorizing Intervals

fretboard-chartThe guitar strings are tuned in intervals of 4ths, starting from the lowest pitched string.

That means that the next higher string is 5 half-steps above the previous string. This is true for all sets of strings except for the relationship between the 3rd and 2nd string, which is a 3rd interval (4 half-steps) instead of a 4th interval.

Start by identifying and memorizing all interval fingerings within an octave that are in a practical position to play on the guitar.

For example, looking at the chart to the left, find all the A’s. You can play A on the fifth fret of the E string, on the open A string, the seventh fret of the D string, the second fret of the G string, and so on.

When you reach the fingering of a 5th interval, you’ll have 3 practical shape options:

-Same string / 7 frets up
-Next higher string / 2 frets up
-Skip a string / 3 frets down

Keep in mind to compensate for the 3rd interval tuning between the 3rd and 2nd strings whenever you use or cross over the 2nd string.

Once you feel comfortable with visualizing all possible fingerings within an octave, it’s time to explore these same intervals but in reverse. This time around, let’s start with the first note on the first string and work ourselves down in pitch using the same interval fingerings but in reverse. Remember to stick to practical fingerings that you can incorporate into your playing.

The next step would be to explore interval fingerings that are larger than an octave. You can use the next higher or lower octave note as an anchor point to help you visualize where you need to go.

This alone will take lots of patient practicing and visualizing. If you’re a visual learner, looking at a guitar fretboard chart – like the one pictured – can really help. You can use this chart to practice even when you don’t have a guitar around.


Yes, it may sound cliché, but now that you have a basic understanding of the notes on a guitar and how they all work in conjunction together, the best bet to nailing down these very basic concepts is to practice.

Experts suggest looking at the notes and playing each one so you can gain a better understanding of how each note sounds. Experts also suggest completing note exercises with an electric tuner attached to the guitar. A tuner is a small device that connects to the neck of the guitar and measures the tone of each note.

Mostly used to help players tune their guitar, it’s a great learning tool too. It can help you understand how each note should sound when the guitar is correctly tuned, and it’ll further help you understand how the notes on a guitar are connected to the strings that are being strummed.

Remember to have fun with the practicing process. When you step out of a private lesson, you shouldn’t simply put your guitar away for the next week.

Instead, go home and have fun with what you learned.

Try out different notes, follow along to your favorite songs, and try to work out the notes that are most commonly used in your favorite music. This will not only give you a deeper appreciation for the art of playing guitar, but it’ll make your practice a fun experience.

Those who have fun with practice are the novice players who advance past learning the notes of a guitar and progress to more in-depth theory, chord progressions, and playing songs.

Photos by Eli Christman, poppy

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