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Guitar Chords Unit
For many years I and my predecessors taught guitar out of the Aaron Stang book. It’s a great book and I totally believe in it. However, I was noticing that students were getting frustrated very easily. Guitar is hard! Playing one note at a time is hard. Although they were learning note notes, note reading, and rhythm reading, I felt that they weren’t taking anything with them out of music class.
So, I threw it all out and rewrote the whole thing. Our guitar unit now is based on chords. I would love it if our general music students left general music class and a few months later happened to be at a friend’s house or a party or camp and were able to pick up a guitar and play a few chords and sing a few songs. Isn’t that what life-long musicianship is all about?
This unit starts with two basic chords: E minor and D69. You and your students get to play along with “A Horse with No Name,” possibly the easiest song to play on guitar. Then we add more chords to play different songs. So far my students are very happy with this unit.
You’ll need recordings of “A Horse with No Name” by America, “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys, and “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles. I bought them all for less than $5 on iTunes. Acquire them however you like.
Your school probably owns a set of the “Get America Singing Again” books. These are LOADED with chord charts and lots of songs only use three chords. My goal of the unit was to get the students up to G, C, and D7 – because you can play almost anything with those three chords.
And, of course, don’t forget our friend the internet. Just type into Google “songs with two chords” and a hundred things pop up. Got a favorite? You can probably find the chords for that online, too. (Just be careful of copyright laws. You cannot photocopy and distribute a copyrighted song for your students, even if it’s just the lyrics and the chords. You cannot make compilations or worksheets from copyrighted materials.)