Is your motivation for taking guitar lessons to play songs?
A vision of the future
Let us set a scene for you: it is the summer of 2022. Life is mostly back to normal, in that we are no longer trying to contain a virus, and we can, once again, be with the people we love most. We appreciate the small freedoms which we always took for granted and the mood of the nation is generally upbeat.
You are having a barbecue in your back garden, sharing a beer with family and friends, and waiting for the coals to glow so that you can start the sausages. The weather is miraculously sunny, even though you’re in England and we all know the law about barbecues and rain. Can you picture it? Are you there? It’s a tranquil scene.
One of the people who has endured the lockdown with you – a spouse, a child, a relative – tells the assembled crowd that one of the ways that you got yourself through this trying period was by learning guitar. Having something to focus on really kept you going through the crazy upheaval of the past couple of years.
Someone, probably called Dave, shouts: “Play us a tune!” And the eyes of your guests light up. This is it. This is the Kumbaya moment. You are about to lead your loved ones in song. The guitar is thrust into your hands and you look up at the expectant faces around you. And you stutter, “Erm, well, I’m still kind of a beginner. I don’t actually know any songs yet…”
The disappointment is palpable and you turn away from them all, and busy yourself with the sausages.
Could this scene look different?
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a beginner. We applaud your tenacity, especially if you are picking up the guitar as an adult when we know learning is more tricky (see our other blog post on this subject here). Many of our online and in-person lessons are aimed at equipping our learners with basic skills, meaning that, yes, sometimes you will be learning and you won’t be able to play a song yet. That is okay.
However, if one of your motivations for learning the guitar is, in fact, to play full songs (and to impress Dave at your barbecue), then we have just the thing for you. Many of our lessons are aimed at teaching a whole song in 90 minutes, meaning that you will finish the class with a new song in your repertoire, even if you are a complete beginner.
Before we tell you all the details, let’s have a look at some of the most iconic songs around, which every guitarist could and should have under their belt.
Even those among us who are not fans of Led Zeppelin – and if you’re not, why not? – will recognise the unmistakable opening bars of Stairway to Heaven. Beloved by guitarists everywhere, the simple but haunting riff can be mastered with ease, much to the amazement of your friends.
Once you’ve got the riff down, enlist your best mate to accompany you with the recorder. Yes, that’s right, this brilliant song also features a recorder. Suddenly all those hours blasting out Three Blind Mice in primary school seem worthwhile.
Eight minutes of wonder. Go on, go and listen to it again. You know you want to.
Written by George Harrison in 1968 while The Beatles were in their full-on hippy, psychedelic phase, this song is a meditation on the state of the world. (Wikipedia will tell you that it was written just after our favourite Liverpudlians got back from studying transcendental meditation in India.)
The lyrics may not make any sense but we reckon the guitar solo alone makes this song worth learning. It’s a cracker. If you have an electric guitar, now is the time to plug it in!
Millennials everywhere rejoice as they hear the opening chord progression and Liam Gallagher’s distinctive tones and are instantly transported back to 1995, to Britpop, and a simpler way of life before the internet, before complicated politics, before pandemics.
The best thing about Wonderwall is that you are guaranteed to get people joining in. The chorus is easy and there aren’t many people who don’t like to wail along ‘Baby…’ at the key moments.
In terms of mastering it on guitar, it is relatively simple – a five-chord wonder and a clear verse, bridge, chorus structure.
This song from 1973 is three minutes of upbeat, folky joy. Composed in parody to Bob Dylan’s Paranoia, Stuck in the Middle with You has a catchy riff and gives guitarists the opportunity to really show off their skills.
If you have some spare time – and time is something most of us have plenty of these days – check out the music video, which stars a clown and in which we see the guitar solo being played in the most inventive and unusual way.
Incidentally, if this particular song is one of your favourites, why not just us for our upcoming online class, perfect for both beginners and intermediate learners?
Over to you
If you would like to know more about the classes that we offer, do check out our What’s On page. We are proud and pleased to offer such a wide range of online classes. Our in-person classes should also be restarting later in the year, government advice permitting.
Once you master your favourite songs, share them with us! Come and see us over on our Instagram page. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.