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It's important to learn all the concepts and develop good skills, but you must remember that it's all about playing music. As soon as you can, dig into some real tunes. You can learn songs for on the internet with sites like YouTube, and I encourage you to learn all you can from all the best teachers. Here are some songbook suggestions I would like to make for teachers and students. Order them from your favorite local music store.

Easy Pop Melodies
I like to use this book with many of my beginning students. I have broken down the tunes in terms of how they relate to the concepts learned in my book, and I am happy to share that page with folks who are using "The Guitar Lesson Companion." I recommend buying the cheaper version of this book, without the CD, because the CD sounds really cheesy.

Blues Guitar
You can never go wrong with the blues! I love using this book with my students because they don't have to learn it all in order. I ask my students to first listen to the CD and pick out the tunes they want to learn. It compliments "The Guitar Lesson Companion" very well, and it is fun for teachers and students to use. Also, the CD sounds pretty cool.

Classical Studies for Pick Style Guitar
This is a great book to use with advancing students who dig classical music. I love that it was designed for pick-style players.

The New Real Book
A classic, must-have book for the jazz students. This book has easy through advanced tunes that allow students to use all the concepts presented in "The Guitar Lesson Companion." From reading single notes, chord changes, soloing and learning how to construct chord melodies, this is where it's at!

Gateway Chord Songs: I like my students to play songs right away, so each week I usually assign one section from, "The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume One" and a few songs that I teach by ear. Pages 97-120 in "The Guitar Lesson Companion" are perfect for a beginning guitarist's first month of lessons because of all the training exercises. I picked these songs because most people are familiar with them and the songs help students develop proper strumming (consistent down+up motion), basic soloing and singing while playing. Once these skills are mastered, they can be applied to many other songs.

Week One: Pages 97-101

Concepts: First Chords, Transition Exercises, Shuffle Riff, Minor Pentatonic Scale and Blues Solo

Suggested Songs: Blues in A

Week Two: Pages 101-107

Concepts: Second Group of Chords, Transition Exercises, Chord Jams, Strum Patterns, Major Scale and Solo

Suggested Songs: Wild Thing, Twist and Shout, Amazing Grace, Bad Moon Rising, What I Like About You

Week Three: 
Pages 108-114

Concepts: Third Group of Chords, Transition Exercises, Chord Jams, Strum Patterns and Solo

Suggested Songs: Sweet Home Alabama, Brown Eyed Girl, Hey Joe, Knocking on Heaven's Door, No Woman No Cry, Louie Louie

Week Four: 
Pages 115-120

Concepts: Fourth Group of Chords, Transition Exercises, Chord Jams, Strum Patterns, Solos and Songwriting Chart

Suggested Songs: Hotel California, House of the Rising Sun, La Bamba, Blues in E, Original Songs and Jams

Tags: general, music, questions, real, songs, topics

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Replies to This Discussion

Here are 2 questions I received recently:

Can I practice with and with out a pic? I like the way both sound.

This book is designed to teach how to play pick-style guitar. There are other books available that teach fingerstyle; although a good fingerstyle guitar teacher may be able to teach you correct fingerstyle playing using this book.

Is there a reason why you don't teach tablature? I was just curious.

You will see tablature throughout the book, especially in the second half, where you will find riffs and solos mixed into the chord exercises. The explanation of tablature is on page 100.

Just broke a guitar string. What strings would you recomend? I dont have an ear or feel for whats different just yet.


What kind of guitar are you playing?

Generally, I recommend D'Addario strings. Bring your guitar to a music store so they can see what gauge will work best for you.

If your store does not have a guitar string recycling program, tell them they should. Folks are welcome to send their used strings to me.

Darius Turner said:
Just broke a guitar string. What strings would you recomend? I dont have an ear or feel for whats different just yet.

Here are a couple of questions I recently received via email:

1) Will the Complete User Guide and Weekly Lesson Planner be available to all customers who bought "The Guitar Lesson Companion" on the Lead Cat Press website?

Yes! I'm putting the finishing touches on it and I will be contacting all the folks who bought it from my website soon.

2) What melodic song books do you suggest?

I use the "Easy Pop Melodies" book with most of my beginning students. It's cheap (especially without the cheesy CD, which I don't recommend) and it's got some cool songs in it. In the Weekly Lesson Planner, there are suggested songs you can play as you work through the book. I recommend you support your local music store and buy a copy there.

3) What chord song books do you suggest?

There are a bunch. I find that the the Hal Leonard "More Easy Pop Rhythms" book works well for beginning students, and I do suggest that students get the one with the CD on this one. Again, support your local music store, and while you're there, pick up some strings and picks too.

Each teacher applies the concepts you learn to different songs, and good teachers do their best to make sure that you are applying the concepts to the songs that you want to play. Don't be shy, ask your teacher to teach you what you want to learn. You can check out some songs that teachers use in the Teacher Group, here.
Hey Susan, I love the idea of recycling strings, as we try to recycle everything else in our lives. Where do you send these strings?
I give them to a local jewelry maker here in Seattle. I'm happy to pass yours along too, if you mail them to me:

Susan Palmer
PO Box 20748
Seattle, WA 98102

Susan Palmer

I recently received this question from a student who bought "The Guitar Lesson Companion" online:


I revieved the book yesterday and I am not clear with what the CD has. All the tracks are like background music (audio  only) there is no instructions. Can you please explain me how to make use of it?


The CD contains 67 backing tracks for the exercises in the book. If an exercise can be played with a backing track, the track number is listed at the top left side of the exercise like this, "TRACK 14." For most of the exercises, you play the melody. On some of the exercises, you play the chords.


For most of the reading exercises, the tempo is about 72bpm and for most of the chord exercises, the tempo is about 80bpm. So, if you cannot play an exercise up to speed the first time (which most students cannot do) I suggest you work each exercise out with a metronome and then put the CD on to test yourself. While the "answer" is not played on the CD, your ear should guide you in your practice sessions and your teacher will be able to evaluate you during your lesson. I did this so that you learn how to read music (or chord charts) and not just develop your ear. There are many more exercises that do just that.


Great question, and keep up the hard work!


No link for "Blues Guitar" April 14. (404 not found.)
It's by Greg Koch, published by Hal Leonard.


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