Introduction to Acoustic Guitar

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Teacher: Ryan
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Unit 1 Introduction

0 Course Introduction 04:00

This is a brief intro to the instructor and the course.

1 Lesson 1 Parts of the Guitar 14:53

This will be important foundational material for the rest of this course.

2 Lesson 2 Tuning the Guitar 16:22

You can get a tuning app for your phone or tablet. You also have the option of buying a clip-on tuner. Either one will work. As of the publication of the lesson, there are several free tuning apps available. It is important that students learn to tune their guitars. At first it will take some time, but they will get faster at it. You may want to play a YouTube video tuner to make sure that the string is close to the correct pitch the first time you tune. For instance, you do not want to tune an octave too high or the string will break. Once the guitar is in tune, it will only change slightly under normal circumstances.

3 Lesson 3 Your First Chords 10:27

This lesson will introduce students to the concept of playing chords. Students will also learn how to play the chords of C and G.

4 Lesson 4 D and Em 15:27

This lesson adds two new chords to your skill set. Refer to the chord chart provided in Lesson 3 and watch the video for detailed instruction.

5 Lesson 5 Strumming 15:14

This lesson applies the knowledge of the first 4 chords students have learned so far to various strumming patterns in the 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures.

Unit 2 Cold Frosty Morning and Intro to Tabs

6 Lesson 6 Am and Transitions with other Chords 13:04

This lesson will teach students their first minor chord. More practice is encouraged to play from chord to chord.

7 Lesson 7 Your First Song: Cold Frosty Morning 15:07

Study and learn the chords to an old-time song with roots in Scotland and Appalachia.

8 Lesson 8 Alternating Bass Strum 15:13

Learn the alternating bass strum technique using the chords to "Cold Frosty Morning."

9 Lesson 9 Notes on E and A Strings 14:33

Students will get to know the neck of the guitar better by learning the notes on the two E and the A strings.

10 Lesson 10 Intro to Guitar Tablature 13:46

Students will be introduced to the basic mechanics and philosophy of the tab method to studying and playing guitar.

Unit 3 Lead and Am

11 Lesson 11 More on Tabs/Happy Birthday 12:01

Students will expand their knowledge and comfort level with tablature as they learn to play the traditional "Happy Birthday" song.

12 Lesson 12 Cold Frosty Morning 11:51

Begin learning the lead to "Cold Frosty Morning."

13 Lesson 13 Cold Frosty Part B 13:20

Continue the study of "Cold Frosty Morning" and work on a lead part in 5th position.

14 Lesson 14 Am Pentatonic Scale 13:44

Students will build on their brief experience at 5th position and learn the Am Pentatonic Scale.

15 Lesson 15 Am Blues Pentatonic Scale 13:06

Build on the Am pentatonic scale by adding the "blues" note in 5th position.

Unit 4 Noodling and Ornamentation

16 Lesson 16 Noodling Around 16:17

Students will learn how to free themselves from the tabs a bit in order to improvise just a bit with the Am pentatonic scale.

17 Lesson 17 Key of C 11:29

Students will learn how play the scales of the key of C in first and fifth positions. Students will also learn about the relationship between C and the relative minor (Am).

18 Lesson 18 Ornamentation Part 1 14:30

Students will learn how to bend, slide, hammer-on, and pull-off while still playing in the region of the Am 5th position scale.

19 Lesson 19 Ornamentation Part 2 13:57

Students will learn more advanced ornamentation techniques, building on the last lesson's material.

20 Lesson 20 Still Noodling Around 15:13

Practice the Am scale to a 12 barre blues structure.

Unit 5 Amazing Grace and Shady Grove

21 Lesson 21 Review 14:10

It is time to reflect on the past 20 lessons and get ready for what's next. An emphasis on the importance of practice is in order for this lesson.

22 Lesson 22 Amazing Grace 13:24

Students will learn the chords to the classic gospel song "Amazing Grace." An emphasis will be made on the 3/4 waltz timing strum pattern.

23 Lesson 23 Amazing Grace Part 2 14:25

Students will continue to study the chord structure to this old gospel classic. In addition, a simple tab lead is offered to build on the knowledge of the chord structure.

24 Lesson 24 Shady Grove Part 1 15:09

An old-time class, "Shady Grove," will form the canvas up which students will practice playing tabs in the key of Em in first/second position.

25 Lesson 25 Shady Grove Part 2 13:53

Students will apply their knowledge of ornamentation to "Shady Grove." Also, for those wanting to learn to sing and play at the same time, this song is a good starting point with only two chords. Lyrics are provided.

Unit 6 Scales and Songs

26 Lesson 26 G Scale Exercises 12:35

G scale exercises are offered for students to practice. These scale exercises will enable students to reach a new level of comfort in the key of G and will also build speed and dexterity.

27 Lesson 27 Sailor's Hornpipe 14:04

This "notey" classic will test students' ability to play in the key of G, read tablature, to go up the neck of the guitar with an optional advanced ending.

28 Lesson 28 Wildwood Flower 10:27

Students will add another traditional classic to their song book with "Wildwood Flower." The unusual 2/4 time will be discussed along with the difference in the use of quarter notes and eighth notes.

29 Lesson 29 Snuffdawg's Blues 13:24

Students will revisit the blues and play an original piece composed by the instructor. Learn a new song and then improvise.

Unit 7 Fingerstyle

30 Lesson 30 Intro to Fingerstyle 15:23

Students will learn the basics of fingerpicking, including which finger to use on which string as the basic position. Several exercises will give students a good foundation with practice.

31 Lesson 31 Intro to Fingerstyle 11:44

Students will continue to learn proper classical technique as they practice an arpeggio and the pinch technique.

32 Lesson 32 Scarborough Fair 16:10

Students will play arpeggios and other fingerstyle patterns to the chords of the English classic, "Scarborough Fair" in the keys of Em and Am.

33 Lesson 33 Chord Shapes and Fingerstyle 15:34

Students will apply their new fingerstyle knowledge and skills to two very different songs: The intro to the classic rock ballad "Dust in the Wind," and Mozart's "A Little Night Music."

Unit 8 Standard Notation and Advanced Chords

34 Lesson 34 Standard Notation 12:33

Students will be introduced to the basics of reading standard notation, including how to locate notes on the treble clef, and how to recognize quarter and eighth notes.

35 Lesson 35 Standard Notation and Timing 16:23

Students will learn how to recognize whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, and dotted notes and how they fit into the timing of a 4/4 song.

36 Lesson 36 7th Chords 14:01

Students will learn about the concept of 7th chords and how to play E7, D7, A7, and C7.

37 Lesson 37 Barre Chords 11:32

Students will learn the basics of E and A shaped barre chords, how to form their shape, and why different chord voicings are important to musicians.

38 Lesson 38 Salt Creek and the Capo 14:37

Students will learn how and why to use a capo for the guitar while studying the old time/bluegrass classic, "Salt Creek."

39 Lesson 39 Simple Gifts and Intro to Composing 13:35

Students will study the song, "Simple Gifts" and learn to play from tablature the provided material. They will then be asked to complete the song after listening to the instructor and encouraged to find the song on other platforms.

40 Lesson 40 Write Your Own Song 14:19

Students will have the opportunity to try their hands at composing. Students are provided with a couple of sample chord structures in the key of G.

Introduction to Acoustic Guitar

Course Overview

Introduction to Acoustic Guitar will enable beginning and aspiring guitar students to learn the basics of guitar. Students will get to know their instrument, learn how to tune it, learn many chords, scales, songs, and much more. These forty lessons will put students in a position to follow their musical dreams; after this course, students will be ready to pursue a path in several genres of music on guitar including classical, rock, blues, traditional, blue-grass, and more.

This course includes:

  • 8 units
  • 40 lessons
  • 44 handouts including 12 songs
  • 40 video lessons
  • 8 online quizzes
  • Detailed explanation connecting the concepts in videos and corresponding handouts

Course Goals:

Upon completion of this course, students will be able toPlay basic major and minor chords

  • Play various strum patterns
  • Read and play guitar tablature
  • Recognize several genres of music including old-time, blues, and classical
  • Recognize time signatures and standard notation whole, half, quarter, eighth and dotted notes
  • Play several songs with a pick
  • Play three fingerstyle songs
  • Improvise over the Am Pentatonic scale
  • Play 7th chords
  • Understand the concept of barre chords
  • Experiment with writing an original own song

Target Audience

This video-course is primarily intended for late elementary to middle school age youth

Course Requirements

Students taking this course will need to have completed:

  • Reading each of the 40 lessons
  • Watching all 40 videos
  • Practicing each new concept
  • Completing all 8 quizzes

Course Topics

Unit 1: Introduction


Parts of the Guitar

Tuning the Guitar

Your First Chords

D and Em


Unit 2: Cold Frosty Morning and Intro to Tabs


Am and Transitions with other Chords

Your First Song: Cold Frosty Morning (Chords)

Alternating Bass Strum for Cold Frosty Morning

Notes on E and A Strings

Intro to Guitar Tablature

Unit 3: Am Lead


More on Tabs

Cold Frosty Morning (Tabs)

Cold Frosty Part B

Am Pentatonic Scale

Am Blues Pentatonic Scale

Unit 4: Noodling and Ornamentation


Noodling Around

Key of C

Ornamentation Part 1

Ornamentation Part 2

Still Noodling Around

Unit 5: Amazing Grace and Shady Grove



Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace Lead

Shady Grove

Shady Grove Part 2

Unit 6: Scales and Songs


G Scale Exercises

Sailor’s Hornpipe

Wildwood Flower

Snuffdawg’s Blues

Unit 7: Fingerstyle


Intro to Fingerstyle

Intro to Fingerstyle Part 2

Scarborough Fair: Fingerstyle over Chords

Chord Shapes: Rock Patterns and Classical Lead

Unit 8: Standard Notation and Advanced Chords


Standard Notation

Standard Music Notation Timing

7th Chords

Barre Chords

Salt Creek and the Capo

Simple Gifts and Intro to Composing

Write Your Own Song

  • Teacher: Ryan
  • Areas of expertise: I am an educator. I have taught from the middle school to the university level in traditional school settings (art, music, theology, philosophy, ethics); I have also been involved in private music and art lessons for many years.
  • Education: Undergrad: Art and Biology Master and Doctorate: Degrees in Theology and Philosophy. Post doctoral work (in progress): Ph.D. in Humanities
  • Interests: Hiking, skiing, teaching, reading, writing, art, and of course music
  • Skills: Competent in several instruments including classical guitar, electric guitar, traditional flatpicking guitar, mandolin, clawhammer banjo, mountain dulcimer, violin, cello, upright bass.
  • Associations: Former director of arts at School of Harmony; former director of music at Beckley Art Center
  • Issues I care about: I care about educating young and old alike in all forms of the arts. I care about nature, family, justice, and faith in God.

I believe that everyone has an artistic side. Many of our education systems either ignore this important part of our being, or even suppress it. Whether someone is desiring to have a music career or simply wants to start a new hobby, I believe that learning an instrument will make a person more well-rounded, more intelligent, more compassionate, and more at peace with themselves and those around them.

Test Preparation Document

Test Preparation Document

Digital Quizzes and Tests Answer Keys Document

Digital Quizzes and Tests Answer Keys Document

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