Acoustic Guitar Lessons for Beginners

A large majority of my students start guitar lessons on the acoustic guitar.  This is perhaps the most cost-effective way to begin lessons since all that is needed is a reasonably priced new or used instrument.  Student’s who are learning guitar between the ages of 7-11 have better success starting with a 3/4 sized acoustic guitar.  Students who start between the ages of 10 – adult will do just fine with a full sized guitar.  Most of my students will learn on a regular right-hand oriented instrument even if they are left-handed.  However, it’s perfectly fine for a student to learn on a left-handed guitar if that feels more comfortable to them.   Please see my getting started page for more information on recommended guitars and accessories.

Topics of Instruction:

Technique

It takes a little bit of time to get comfortable playing notes with the left hand while also plucking or strumming strings with the right hand. So, I work with my students on exercises and music scales to help them develop their strength and coordination.  I also will utilize popular single-note songs to accomplish this as well.

Understanding how the guitar works

From day one I try to help beginning students establish a concrete understanding of how information is organized on the guitar.  The guitar can be initially confusing since it is a bit different from other instruments, such as the piano, strings, or brass.  Essentially, the guitar is organized to the number 5.  I will work with students to memorize their string names, the notes on the fretboard, and how that relates to thinking about topics such as chords and scales.

Reading guitar music

One of my goals is to equip students to be able to decode written music so they can teach themselves songs.  Initially, I help students learn how to read tablature (which is a very guitar oriented form of music notation) so they have the skills necessary to learn songs that they can easily find on the internet.  I then move onto to teaching standard music notation once my student has developed some foundational technical skills on guitar and also has a better time visualizing ideas on the guitar.

Chords

I start working on guitar chords once a student starts feeling comfortable playing single-note scale and songs.  There are approximately 15 guitar chords that will allow students the ability to play many popular songs of interest.  I work with students on learning these primary chords and getting comfortable switching between them.  We also start immediately on songs or sections of songs that use these chords which makes the journey of learning much more enjoyable!

Rhythm & Strumming

I introduce topics of strumming and rhythm to my students once they start gaining some mastery over chords.  Rhythm, in many respects, is math in motion.  I help students understand how to think about time-keeping (meter) while they develop their ability to play a repertoire of about 15 different rhythm patterns found in popular music.

Songs

Songs represent the tangible rewards and achievements of working hard to learn a new instrument.  They also function as motivating goals for myself and my students.  From my experience, songs are the motivating reason why we start taking lessons in the first place.  Because of this, I want to find out, as soon as possible, which songs my students are most interested in learning. In face,  I will try to find a song that a student can begin to learn in their first lesson if its a reachable goal.

Acoustic guitar styles & songs:

This table below represents some of the music styles and songs that I teach.  It is not a complete list.  Please feel free to contact me if you have interests in music styles that are not found below.

Music Genre

Song/Artist

Popular Songs

“I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran
“Eyes Wide Open” by Sabrina Carpenter
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
“Play that Song” by Train
“Let it Be” by the Beatles
“Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles

Rock

 

“Patience” by Guns n’ Roses
“Free Fallin” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“Crazy on You” by Heart
“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd”
“The One I Love” by REM

Country

“Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker
“I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash
“Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash
“Play it Again” by Luke Bryan
“Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw

Indie Rock

“Hey Ho” by the Lumineers
“Boardwalks” by Little May

Folk/Easy Listening

“Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot
“Heart of Gold” by Neil Young
“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan
“Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet

Movie Soundtrack themes

“Everything is Awesome” Acoustic version from the Lego Movie
“I See the Light” from Tangled
“Star Wars”
“Pirates of the Caribbean” theme song
Indiana Jones Theme song

Video Game Themes

Plants Vs. Zombies Theme song
Minecraft story mode Intro Theme
“Bonetrousle” from Undertale
“2B a Master” from Pokemon
“Overworld” from Terreria
Legend of Zelda Theme Song
Super Mario Brothers Theme Song

Worship and Sacred Music

 “What a Beautiful Name” Hillsong Worship
“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”  by Matt Redman
“My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective
“Break Every Chain” Jesus Culture

Fingerstyle

 “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton
“You Got a Friend” James Taylor
“Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce
“Let Her Go” by Passenger

Fingerpicking

“Blackbird” by the Beatles
“Dust in the Wind” by Kansas
“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac
“Freight Train” Elizabeth Cotten

Classical

“Andantino” by Matteo Carcassi
“Etude in Aminor” by Dionisio Aguado
“Etude No. 1” bv Villa Lobos

Bluegrass

Blackberry Blossom
Ashokan Farewell
Arkansas Traveler

 Lessons for Intermediate/Advanced level students.

I am also comfortable working with students who have prior experience with the guitar.  In general terms I work with intermediate/advanced students on further developing their technique, expanding their repertoire, and extending their understanding of chords and harmony.  Many of my upper level students often take intermittent hourly lessons as I’m able to provide a lot of content that they can develop further on their own.

If you haven’t done so already….

Contact Gordon to get started with lessons or find answers to additional questions you may have about acoustic guitar lessons.

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Learn more about Gordon’s Teaching Philosophy

Find out more information on Lesson Rates & Scheduling.