Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Group Guitar Class Week by Week


(Part 2 of 3)   

By Robin Steinweg   guitars on stands

The past two months I’ve shared some of the advantages of offering group classes. The first, June 27, covered Group Lessons, specifically a group voice class. July 27 featured Part 1 of Group Guitar.

Here’s an outline of what I cover in this eight-week beginner class.

I record the songs from each class, and email them as MP3s to the students.

Digital recorder, Tascam DR5  Digital Recorder

I record them at tempo so they can listen and learn the songs.

Then I follow up with a slow version which includes pauses before each chord change.


Week 1

-parts of the guitar (for both classical and steel string; I used pictures)

-finger numbers

-basics of tuning

-the all-important How to Read a Chord Chart

-how to strum (basic downstroke)

-easy versions of the C and G7 chords. Also complete fingerings of these.


Their first song requires only one chord: “Frere Jacques” (“Are You Sleeping?”)

-hints for a clear sound

-another one-chord song and then a couple of two-chord songs

-a strum in 2/4 time

0731184137  (Gavin’s got it down!)

Note that in the early classes I choose songs with as few chord changes as possible.


Week 2 

-review first lesson

-introduce the G and D7 chords, plus a song using them

-introduce Em chord

Now there are more song possibilities, using G, C, D7, Em, or G7. I use as many public domain songs as I can, especially if they are well known. Students can be directed to look online for lists of songs with two and three chords. Ultimate or e-chords, among others, offer lyrics, chords and more.

I introduce guitar tablature with a simple melody on two strings. This is a chance to teach youngsters the difference between rhythm guitar and solo (lead) guitar.

This lesson ends with a couple more easy songs to strum, staying with the 2/4 strum.

By now they’ve experienced sore fingers and muted, thunking strings, so I lay on the encouragement.

You did it! Yay! Good job!

You did it! Yay! Good job!

Week 3

-review chords, 2/4 strum, and a couple of songs

-add a few more songs

-review tablature and add the melody of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”

-I include the hymn version too, lyrics and three chords (a simplified version).  This summer’s students felt terrific when they realized they could play this famous and beautiful piece, especially with both melody and chords!

-a strum in 3/4 time

Now they can play “Amazing Grace” and “Silent Night,” two more songs that made them feel accomplished.


Week 4

-time for two new chords, D and A7

-a bit of theory teaches them the difference between D7 and D, G7 and G

-review strums and chords and a couple of songs

-learn how to transpose the key (and reasons why) by counting alphabet letters forward or back. This means teaching them the Music Alphabet (if they haven’t had music before).

Alphabet, music

-songs to transpose follow

-more tablature songs—staying with the first two strings only

This seems a good time for humor: with just three chords they can play “On Top of Spaghetti.” We end the class with a first 4-chord song, Dvo?ák’s “Humoresque” with a twist: I made a parody to fit our class. We do it very slowly, indeed!

Verse 1 (Easy G). First you put your left thumb on the back of the guitar neck, then you stick your left wrist out into the air… then you place your third finger upon the first string at the third fret, and you strum only four strings.

Verse 2 (Easy C). First you put your left thumb on the back of the guitar neck, then you stick your left wrist out into the air… then you place your first finger upon the second string, first fret, and then you strum only three strings.

Chorus: Why did I come here? This is torture! My fingertips are throbbing! And I can’t re—member which strings to strum or what’s the diff’rence between chords and single____notes…   Finger, sore

Verse 3 (D7). Place your first finger upon the second string at the first fret, and next your second finger on the third string, second fret; then you place your third finger upon the first string, second fret, and then you strum only four strings.

We’d love to hear about your group lessons. Oh, and come back on September 27 for Weeks 5-8 of the group guitar class!



About the Author

Robin Steinweg has found music to be like the creamy filling of a sandwich cookie--sweet in the middle--especially making music with family.
A great joy is seeing her students excited to make music for themselves. From her studio in Sauk-Prairie, Wisconsin, she teaches ages 4-84 piano, guitar, voice, woodwinds, ukulele and recorder.
Musically, she composes, arranges, performs, directs, consults... [Read more]


  1. Kathryn Whitney

    Great post with lost of information Robin – thank you! I like the way you emphasize making the students feel like they are accomplishing something. The transpositions are also fantastic – so many students just learn to play what they memorize and never learn to make their own music. Understanding transposition can help them eventually to make their own music, and is fun and interesting too!

  2. Robin Steinweg

    Kathryn, thank you for your kind comments! I agree about transposing. It’s so easy to do, and can make all the difference. In eight weeks it’s a challenge to accomplish a whole lot, but if they can manage the easy versions of a couple of chords, they have hundreds of songs they can strum and sing. Cool.

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