I had such a lot of positive feedback on my post “Top 10 Guitar Songs For Beginners” that I’ve decided to release a sequel! In case you missed my previous article on Colchester Guitar Teacher, I ran down a list of 10 great songs that, in my experience, have been ideal for complete beginners on the guitar to learn in their first few lessons. Don’t get me wrong, learning scales, techniques and exercises is important, but come on, everyone I know (including myself) originally started learning guitar to learn some cool songs that they like the sound of! It’s what hooks you into learning any instrument, and all of the songs on this list, and on my previous list, are great for teaching a solid technique to beginners, killing two birds with one stone! Of course, if you are a beginner and looking for guitar lessons in Essex, then please get in touch and I’d be happy to show you a few of the songs mentioned below. However, if you can’t book lessons, or if you’re a guitar teacher yourself and looking for some inspiration, then I hope you find this list useful. Without further adieu, here are my top picks, starting with…
“Chasing Cars” – Snow Patrol
Probably quite a surprising pick to start off with, as I don’t see “Chasing Cars” on other similar lists to this one very often, but that doesn’t mean to say that Snow Patrol’s 2006 hit isn’t a great song to learn for those just starting out on the guitar. In my many years as a teacher, this one has become a staple in my “first few lessons” repertoire, and I don’t think I’ve had a single student who hasn’t been able to play it, regardless of how much experience they have on the instrument.
So what makes “Chasing Cars” such a winner amongst beginners? Well, for a start, it’s very popular amongst a wide range of ages and backgrounds, and it’s always great for budding musicians to learn something they recognise and enjoy listening to. It’s a simple yet highly effective tune, consisting of three chords in the same order all the way through, with those three chords being A, E (add that G# in the bass if you’re feeling confident!) and D, which any beginner will come to use time and time again on their guitar journey. Finally, the main guitar part is surprisingly easy to play, consisting of a repeating pattern on the middle two strings, and can help develop a solid right hand technique that can be applied across other tunes and areas.
“7 Years” – Lukas Graham
A favourite amongst my younger students (and some of my older ones too) Lukas Graham’s 2015 smash is another great tune that can be taught as early as the first lesson. Its simple piano melody can be transposed into the open position, starting on the note G rather than Bb, with the whole line being performed across the high E and B strings on the guitar. While “7 Years” is certainly a catchy tune that most students will enjoy tackling, learning that intro piano section on guitar will also help beginners develop a solid technique in both hands, as the fretting hand can play the first two notes using more than one finger, and the picking hand can play the whole thing as an alternate picking pattern.
The fun doesn’t stop there though! Clocking in a nice, comfortable 60 BPM, “7 Years” is a manageable tempo which shouldn’t cause too many problems, and with practice, new students should be able to keep up when playing along to the record. Furthermore, the song is mostly built around four basic chords which can be transposed to the open position (Em, G, Cmaj7 and D) which are perfect for beginners to get under the fingers. Finally, it’s also a great song to introduce the function of the capo on the guitar, as placing the capo on the 3rd fret and moving everything to the new position will ensure the song is now in the right key for performance.
“Someone Like You” – Adele
Credit to Rockschool’s Acoustic Grade 1 book for this one, but their superb arrangement of Adele’s 2011 modern classic is an ideal choice for beginners looking to learn good technique for fretting chords in the left hand. The piano accompaniment has been arranged for guitar in a simple eighth note rhythm, which makes it much more manageable to execute fluently in the right hand. In the left hand, all chords in the song are fretted on the top three strings (the G, B and high E string) so no big difficult stretches just yet! The actual movements between each chord are also fairly straightforward, and the slow tempo of 67 BPM means that, with a bit of practice, any student can perform this tune up to speed after one or two lessons.
What I also like about this version of “Someone Like You” is that the notes are picked out individually as arpeggios, rather than strummed as full chords. This means that not only is the beginning student building a solid foundation in the right hand, but it also means that the fingers in the left hand have to be properly arched in order for all the notes in each chord to ring out correctly. This technique will serve any guitar newbie well, as it can be applied to all other basic open chords that they encounter.
Check out the Rock School arrangement of “Someone Like You” here.
“Free Falling” – Tom Petty
Another great choice for beginners, Tom Petty’s legendary 1989 hit is often met with surprise when I suggest it to my less experienced students, but that’s not to say that “Free Fallin” can’t be learnt fairly early on in their guitar journey! The main guitar part can be taught in the open position to start off with, using the basic open chords of D, Dsus4 and Asus4, with the ring finger remaining on the 3rd fret of the B string throughout. Once these changes have been mastered, it’s now time to learn how to use a capo! Playing those same chords outlined earlier with the capo on the 3rd fret will ensure that you’re now playing “Free Fallin'” in the right key to jam along with to the record.
What I also like about this tune, apart from the simple chord changes, is that the simple rhythm makes it easier for guitar beginers to focus on getting their left hand accurate, making sure that all the notes are ringing out in each of the three chords they finger. New students will also appreciate that this song can be performed using all downstroke strums, which means that once those three chords are under the fingers, it’s simply a case of getting the timing right between the changes in order to perfect this tune. Finally, the vocal melody to “Free Fallin'” is also very straightforward, and transcribing and learning it on guitar would be another great exercise for beginners to undertake.
“Royals” – Lorde
My final pick on this list actually doesn’t feature many instruments at all, but that doesn’t mean that beginners won’t find Lorde’s 2013 smash hit a useful one to learn when they first pick up a guitar. Although its stripped down, electronic sound may not seem like the ideal choice for an easy guitar song, “Royals” is built around just three chords, those being D, C and G. Not only are these chords used time and time again on guitar in many other songs, but playing them in this order also opens up a few other tunes using the same progression, such as “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd or “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses.
Clocking in at 85 BPM, “Royals” is another song that has a mid tempo, almost walking pace feel to it, making it very manageable for beginners just getting used to those first few chord changes. Additionally, this tune is pretty much the same four bar loop throughout, consisting of D for 2 bars, C for 1 bar and G for 1 bar, meaning that any budding musicians won’t have to worry about any complicated structural devices or learning different sections in order to play this piece all the way through. This also makes “Royals” a great choice for anyone starting out on other instruments, such as piano or bass.
So there you have it, 5 more great guitar songs for beginners that will surely whet the appetite of anyone thinking of starting out on this great instrument. I have personally taught every single suggestion on this list, and can attest to their effectiveness in teaching the basics to those just starting out on their guitar journey. Now, it’s your turn! Tell me what you thought of this list in the comments below, and please let me know if you have any other song suggestions that are ideal for newbie guitar students to tackle. Finally, if you’re looking for guitar lessons in Essex, or guitar lessons on Skype, then please contact me and let’s get you booked in.