Beginning Guitar Class

Beginning Guitar Class

Daniel J Marasco
[email protected]
Belleville Mennonite School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Notation Software
Music Production
Instructional Software


Middle School


General Music


Pro Tools, CD player, Amplyfiers, Guitars


35 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Know the names of the music notes

can read basic 4-4 rhythms

Can read notation limitedly, or adequately

Some will already be guitar players

NAfME Standards of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME Standards of 1994: Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

NAfME 2014: Performing 

NAfME Standards of 1994: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Reading and notating music.

NAfME 2014: Creating 

NAfME Standards of 1994: Evaluating music and music performances.

NAfME 2014: Responding 


Finale lead sheet for “We Are One in the Spirit” to be displayed

CD accompaniment track to be played

Chord Charts for Guitar


SWBAT = Students will be able to

1.) SWBAT name the guitar strings

2.) SWBAT copy onto charts the names of the notes for the first 5 frets of each guitar string

3.) SWBAT find the appropriate frets to press down on each string for a given chord (teacher assisted)

4.) SWBAT to switch between Em and Am chords

5.) SWBAT play along with a CD accompaniment track for “We are One in the Spirit” with varying levels of teacher assistence. (many classes may not be able to play with the CD in the first lesson, because their chord switches are still too slow.)


1.) Quickly go over the main parts of both an acoustic and electric guitar. (2 min.)

2.) Name the string names. (1 min.)

3.) Label all of the first 5 frets of each string (3-5 min.)

4.) Explain the concept of a triad and that the Em triad contains an E (root) G (3rd) B (5th) (1 min.)

5.) Help the Students to determine which strings need to have a fret pressed down (and which fret) in order to produce a note in the Em chord (2 min.)

6.) Do the same procedure for the Am chord (2 min.)

—Note, all steps to this point should be written on the board, or diplayed on power point to reinforce students learning visually—

7.) If enough guitars are available for half the class (or in a perfect world, all the class) to have one at the same time, have half the class get guitars. (1-2 min)

8.) Have SS find Em chord, and then Am chord. (1-2 min.)

9.) Have SS begin to switch with 4 slow downstrums in between! each chord (expect to pause in between each chord).

(2-3 min)

10.) Switch guitars with the other group. repeat steps 8 and 9 (6 min.)

11.) Switch guitars again (or not) Have students try to follow along with the lead sheet of “We are One in the Spirit” (using music reading skills to see how many beats – downstrums – each chord receieves). Teacher and the students not playing will sing the melody. Keep the tempo slow. Expect to pause at the switches, and try to make a game out of it for those who are singing. (less than 2 min.)

12.) Again switch guitars and repeat 11 (less than 2 min.)

13.) If students are struggling repeat this step

14.) If all is going reasonably well, press play on the CD play for the accompaniment track to We are One in the Spirit. Try this with both groups.


1.) In a future class, follow up everything that was written on the board by reviewing daily.

2.) At some point give a written quiz on these important guitar concepts.

3.) Observe student participation

4.) Make sure students are gaining the skills to play the guitar. Help them as needed. (the CD enables more of your focus to be used in helping them, though it is only useful when the majority of the class is in decent shape)

Follow Up:

1.) Review all of the lesson, and if the group did not move to the point of doing the CD, try to get there.

2.) Depending on the students, you can build an entire ensemble, using percussion, bass guitar, pianos and guitars. I regularly have students that play these instruments (because of our worship team class which are musically similar to a rock band set up). This can be a great opportunity for improvisation.

3.) You can have an advanced group that plays better, (often because they already play guitar), and teach them to play different parts or even improvise

Items to Purchase:

You must have guitars, however, I have always functioned by having students volunteer to bring in their guitars.

When budget should be submitted:

NA at least for me

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