Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beginner Lesson: Amazing Grace
In Open Position &
On One String

Here's a famous public domain song arranged for beginner guitarists. It's presented in musical notation and tablature.

There are two repeats of the same melody.
The melody is first 'tabbed' in open position.

In the first version, all of the notes are 'tabbed' within the first four frets of the nut, or within the open position. This is a convenient way to learn to play the song, with lots of open strings. You can use any fingers you like for now, just go slow and try to play the passage musically.

Can you play it Legato? In order to do this, the coordination between your fretting and plucking hands must be very precise. Go slowly.

The second repeat is tabbed all along one string.

It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to play this fingering legato. Playing this one string fingering is less about learning the guitar, and more about learning music. You can "see the music" and measure how much musical space there is between notes. I recommend starting with only one finger, so your whole arm can feel those musical distances.

This is a great way for a child to relate to music on this instrument. And there are, in fact, one string guitars, called 'diddley bows' that are played exactly this way. B.B. King's first musical experimentation as a child took place on one of these one string guitars.

Improvisors take note: playing on one string is a powerful way to break out of your usual fingering patterns.

Try out both methods.

Click on the image below to enlarge the open position version:

Click on this image to enlarge the 'one string' version:

You could learn a lot about the guitar and making music on the guitar by studying these and other methods for playing.

Advancing Guitar Lessons: Washington, D.C.
Professional Musical Fun for Beginners and Beyond


Anonymous said...

Another variation with this tune is to play it like your favorite guitarist might play it!

pluto said...


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