Beginner Guitar 

For a child who is a beginning string player, making music can be BAFFLING.  There are so many things going on! 

Pretty girl playing guitar

Learning how to play guitar seems almost intuitive for beginner guitar players who have taken piano lessons.

But to a child encountering music training for the first time with a guitar in hand, using left and right hands independently, strumming rhythmically, learning what a chord is, reading notes and understanding their relationship to the guitar strings is a process shrouded in mystery.


Check out this page for EASY guitar songs and exercise sheets to demystify this process for your students.

Jump to:

Guitar Worksheets

From guitar chord fretboards small, large, and SUPER large, to flashcards and blank tablature, there are many tools here for your students!

Guitar fretboards, blank
Beginner chords chart

Beginner Guitar Chords

Guitar chord charts for beginners! "Little" chords, some requiring only one finger.

A and Am guitar chord chart

Big Guitar Chord Charts

These giant chord charts are perfect for beginners.

Write all over them!

Guitar flashcards

Flashcards for Guitar

Get your guitar student used to looking at notes on the treble staff with flashcards!

And more!  See all the Guitar Worksheets HERE

Very Easy Guitar Tabs

Twelve bar blues bass line for beginning guitar students

12-Bar Blues

An intro to this concept for your beginning guitar students.

Several different pages, starting with just a bass line.

All Through the Night lullaby

All Through the Night

With all the different chords, this may look like a complicated song, but just look at the tablature!  0, 2, or 4 are all that are used. 

Easy-peasy.  And it is a very pretty song.

Bluegrass music Boil'em Cabbage Down

Boil'em Cabbage Down beginner guitar song

Both the simple flat-picking melody & the A-D-E chords are important for beginners.

After Pizza Please, this is the song I use to inculcate the "Down, Down-Up" picking pattern into my young students.

Canoe Song chords for guitar

Canoe Song

A very easy guitar tab with a driving melody, and just one chord!  Kids like this song from Canada.

Guitar exercises all on open strings

Easiest Guitar Tab to Play

These 4 exercises help kids figure out where the strings and frets are, and may be your student's favorite "song" for a couple weeks!

Guitar tabs God is So Good

God is Good, or God is So Good!

Whether playing tabs or chords, this sweet melody is very easy!

Yes, the F chord is hard, but let your beginners use a "baby F" chord: just 1, 2, or 3 strings.  

Home on the Range music

Home On the Range free guitar tabs & chords

This is the easy arrangement, which can use "baby chords".

On this page is also a much fancier arrangement, which uses chords G, G7, C, Cm, D, D7, A7, B, and Em.

Jingle Bells guitar tabs

Jingle Bells guitar tabs

Everyone should learn to play this little Christmas song, and thankfully for beginners, it is simple!

This arrangement uses just two chords, but a second arrangement found on this page uses four chords!

Mary Had a Little Lamb with guitar tabs

Mary Had a Little Lamb

This famous song uses just 2 chords, and has easy tabs

Halloween guitar music

Monsters Everywhere Halloween guitar sheet music

A spooky -but-not-too-scary Halloween song with fun lyrics.

The melody creeps slowly from fret to fret.

Very easy.

Old Joe Clark guitar tabs

Old Joe Clark

Goofy words and a singable tune make this song fun to sing and play!

Guitar tablature sheet for beginners

Pizza Please (the Hot Cross Buns melody!)

Older beginners will say, "We played this in band!", and indeed, this is one of the world's EASIEST songs for beginners.

Sharks, sounding like the Jaws theme song, with guitar tabs

Sharks easy guitar tabs

If you tell your students that this is ALMOST the same as the theme song of the movie "Jaws", they will work at it!

Easy guitar tabs music

Shortnin' Bread

Lots of repetition make this cute song easy, both tabs & the 2 chords

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star for guitar tabs

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star music

Kids like working on familiar tunes, and with guitar beginners it is even more important.

Hymns, Carols, & Anthems

All Through the Night lullaby

All Through the Night

Tip: young girls love to sing this song.  If you can master it on the guitar, you can make them happy!

The key of D, or else check out the lead sheets for additional keys, but without guitar tablature.

Amazing Grace guitar tabs

Amazing Grace

The melody of this beautiful hymn is very easy to pick in the key of G... also offered in C.

Patriotic guitar tabs

America -My Country, 'Tis of Thee

One of our nation's patriotic songs.

This melody (with different lyrics) comes from England. 

There, it says, "God save our noble queen (or king)."  Here, the lyrics speak of FREEDOM.

Christmas guitar tabs

Angels We Have Heard On High

The pretty Christmas song with the long "Glo-o-o-o-o-ria" section

Ave Maria lead sheet for guitar

Ave Maria sheet music

Lead sheets with chords in multiple keys, as well as the full piano accompaniment in several keys.

This lovely song is offered here in Latin (Ave Maria) and with a set of English lyrics, which are NOT a translation but more of a prayer to God the Father.

This is the lovely combined composition by Bach and Gounod - Charles Gounod added a soaring melody over Bach's Prelude in C for keyboard 

Easy guitar Christmas music

Away in a Manger

This simple Christmas carol has an easy guitar tab line.

Hymn lead sheet Be My Vision

Be Thou My Vision

A beautiful hymn, very old, in praise of God.

Lead sheets and piano arrangements.

Carol of the Bells for guitar - classical style, with guitar tabs

Carol of the Bells guitar tab

This beautiful Christmas song is not easy for young students, but the challenge to play it is fun!

Three pages.

Christ Arose chords for guitar

Christ Arose sheet music

With easy key of C chords and tabs.

A great old song about Resurrection Sunday!

Come Ye Sinners Beach Spring melody music

Come Ye Sinners, old gospel hymns  (Beach Spring melody, from The Sacred Harp)

With guitar chords but no tabs, this is an old-fashioned hymn with an irresistible melody. Very easy for fiddle players.

Hymn sheet music for guitar

Come Ye Sinners (I Will Arise and Go to Jesus)

This hymn with the same words, plus a few more, is in a minor key, with a haunting melody.

It looks to be in a scary key for guitarists!  

Don't fear; this one is just for piano.  There are other keys for this lead sheet to be found on this page!

Christmas carol sheet music

Deck the Halls free Christmas songs

With a high and a low version of this carol.

Doxology sheet music


This is the well-known short hymn with the lyrics, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow..."

Did you know there are many more verses?

Lead sheets and a piano arrangement can be found on this page.

French Christmas music sheet

Entre le boeuf Christmas music lyrics and piano chords (Between the Ox and Donkey)

With guitar chords, this lovely Christmas carol from France is an unfamiliar song to many.

Lead sheet "Farther On," a hymn about the land beyond - heaven!  Lyrics and chords.

Farther On

A song about going to that better place.

This is one of the sweetest hymns I know.

Chords & lyrics, and arrangements for your choral group.

A song to include in your list of funeral songs.

A Thanksgiving round with guitar tabs

For Health & Strength & Daily Bread prayer for Thanksgiving

With guitar tabs and also guitar chords, this is a simple round with a simple and good message!

Hymn sheet music For the Beauty of the Earth

For the Beauty of the Earth Thanksgiving song

Another song of thanksgiving to God.

This song was featured in the film "Little Women" years ago, as a kind of non-denominational, inoffensive kind of hymn.  

Fittingly, I suppose, as Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott's father, was a Transcendentalist.

The Friendly Beasts sheet music

The Friendly Beasts

This song has a few secondary chords (Am & Dm), but the song will work with just the three main chords.

A song for a girl who died young

Gabrielle: Address Heaven

This song was written to comfort mourners - including myself - for a thirteen-year-old girl, who sickened and died inside the space of one week.

Medieval music Gaudete

Gaudete (Rejoice!) free Christmas vocal sheet music

Several arrangements of this very interesting and OLD Latin hymn of praise.  It is a bit of classical style.

God is So Good guitar tabs

God is So Good, or God is Good, lyrics and chords and tabs for guitar

A short and sweet song, easy to learn, and transpose.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing, guitar tabs and chords, in the key of C

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Guitar tabs, and also a beginning piano arrangement are on this web page.

Lyrics too, as a downloadable PDF!

I Love You Lord sheet music

I Love You sheet music

A very easy guitar melody!  Easy chords, too, with lots of room for finger-picking.

I'll Fly Away guitar tabs

I'll Fly Away

Easy guitar tabs make up the melody of this vigorous old-timey hymn about going to heaven.

It remains popular!

Jingle Bells guitar music

Jingle Bells guitar chords and tabs

The arrangement shown here uses C, F, D7, G, and G7 chords.

Also on this page is a very simple version using only C and G7 - perfect for beginners who are using the "Little C" and "Little G7" chords!

New students are always delighted to play this song.

Guitar tabs Jolly Old St Nicholas

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, free print-out sheet music

This is a fun song for little kids, and brings back happy memories for many of us grownups too!

Proceed way down the page to find the guitar music.

joy to the world tablature

Joy to the World lyrics and guitar tabs

Several arrangements, for piano and voice as well as this guitar tab arrangement, on this web page.

You can also download a PDF of the lyrics with all the verses.

Just As I Am, a hymn for church, with guitar tabs.

Just As I Am Without One Plea

An older hymn that is still beautiful and soul-stirring.

Just three chords.

Kum Ba Yah guitar tabs

Kum Ba Yah

A sweet song that asks God to come near

Guitar tabs Christmas carol

Lo I Bring You Tidings Christmas carol lyrics

A modern Christmas carol, with lyrics straight from the Bible.  

Mary ponders the words that the shepherds repeat, that the angel told them.

Ode to Joy music

Ode to Joy guitar music for beginners

With standard notation, and "helper" tablature below.

For beginning readers!

Christmas violin duet

On Christmas Night

A violin duet.

This piece can also be sung, of course, but the "A" and "E" open strings of the violin part 2 make this a very easy part for beginners.

Silent Night guitar tabs

Silent Night chords, lyrics and tabs

Several ensembles for string instruments, as well as guitar solo.

Sing We Noel chords

Sing We Noel 

A Christmas carol from France.

This one has no tablature, but numerous keys to try out the chords to.

Hymn sheet music for guitar

Softly and Tenderly free hymn sheet music

An old-fashioned hymn.

If you want contemplative music that will soften and touch hearts, this free hymn sheet music is what you are looking for. 

"Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is Calling" is about going home -- the final home. 

Guitar tabs Sweet Hour of Prayer

Sweet Hour of Prayer hymn music

An old-fashioned part of the hymn repertoire, this pretty melody has meaningful & scriptural lyrics.

With four verses.

Up On the Housetop easy kids' Christmas piano sheet music 

- but with chords for guitar as well!

This is, surprisingly, an old Christmas carol!  It feels modern somehow.

It doesn't use many chords - just the usual three "I, IV, & V" chords.

This song has a joyous feeling!

We Wish You a Merry Christmas chords, tabs, and lyrics

This joyous-sounding Christmas carol is full of energy!

Easy chords for guitar.

What Child is This Christmas sheet music

This is "Greensleeves", a beautiful melody hundreds of years old.

The version shown here, with the Christmas carol lyrics, has the lowered seventh tone of a more lute-like arrangement.

What Wondrous Love, two different melodies

This page features the familiar version of What Wondrous Love, and also a little-known version, shown here.

I like to call this second arrangement "bluegrass" - but the melody is apparently from the Shape Note tradition.

It is very unlike the most familiar version you have heard before.

Shown here are the guitar tabs and melody.  On another page, I have available a four-part choral arrangement of this alternate melody!

What Wondrous Love with 4-part harmony

This is the "bluegrass" or Shape Note melody that is also featured on the link above.

Few people have heard this strong, compelling tune, though they may be very familiar with the lyrics!

Shown here is page 3 of a 4-page arrangement...

When He Cometh

Also known as "Jewels".

This song talks about the preciousness of little children, like stars in God's crown.

Just three main chords make up the background.  

Lots of opportunity for  vocal harmony!

Classical Guitar

Classical guitar sheets for beginners
Allegro from The Butterfly by Giuilani for guitar, with and without guitar tabs

Allegro classical guitar sheet music

From Le Papillon (The Butterfly).

This piece looks more complicated than it really is, since the notes come from chord shapes Am, Dm, E, and E7.


Carol of the Bells for guitar - classical style, with guitar tabs

Carol of the Bells guitar tab

This beautiful Christmas song is not easy for young students, but the challenge to play it is fun!

Three pages.

A duet version for guitar or treble instruments of Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring

Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring duet

A well-loved piece by Bach, I have arranged it as a duet for cello and violin, for two violins, or for two guitars.

Ode to Joy for guitar, with standard notation

Ode to Joy guitar music for beginners

Oh no!  Where's the tablature?

I left it out of this familiar song, so that students have the opportunity to practice their notereading, using the guide at the bottom of the music sheet.

Spanish Study classical guitar music with tabs

Spanish Study 

A beautiful first classical piece for young guitarists.

A 3-page version, a 1-page version, and a worksheet with empty tab below the notes.


All 3 pages with treble staff AND guitar tabs!

"Viva la musica" round for voices and other instruments, with guitar tab

Viva la Musica

This rather simple little melody is a ROUND, and therein lies its challenge for your guitar student!

Playing with another student, or even with you, the teacher, takes focus and good listening.

This is a pretty little song, the meaning of which is "Long live music!".

Flatpicking Guitar and Fiddle Pieces

Flatpicking guitar songs
Arkansas Traveler for flat-picking guitar, with standard notation and tabs

Arkansas Traveler

Like the version featured above, except in the key of G. 

A very famous American song.

Bonaparte Crossing the Rocky Mountains, bluegrass guitar tabs

This is a very different piece, minor, with a great melody!

The Butterfly for fiddle and guitar

The Butterfly - free Irish fiddle sheet music

- THE popular song Celtic Woman plays!

See a video of this exciting song on this page.

Camptown Races

A cute song by Stephen Foster, an American composer of long ago.

Devil's Dream free guitar tabs

This is a piece that both guitarists and fiddlers find they can grow faster and faster at playing, and increase their skill level along the way!

For guitarists learning to flatpick, this melody is almost entirely "Down-Up, Down-Up, Down-Up, Down-Up!"

Violinists may find themselves making little "bow circles" for the first time ever - very fun!

June Apple violin tabs and guitar tabs

A fun song for fiddle and guitar!

Mari's Wedding

A cute and energetic song with lyrics to sing.  

Musical Priest free printable violin music

A fun minor piece with room to learn to easily add ornaments.  

Two arrangements - a simple one with the basic melody, and another with ornaments written in.

Redhaired Boy

This piece is a great favorite at my studio. 

In the keys of A and also G.  

For fiddle or guitar.

Road to Lisdoonvarna free fiddle sheet music

Two versions of this catchy fiddle  and guitar tune - plain (shown here) and FANCY!

Sleepsong music for piano, voice, & guitar


This beautiful song has been transposed to Em so as to be easier for beginner guitar players to master it.

Listen to a video that will amaze you with its beauty.

The Spanish Lady sheet music

Spanish Lady

A really fun and bouncy song!

High energy, and a pretty tune.

Guitar flatpicking music, for violin too.

Ten-Penny Bit

This is a great fiddle melody, and also a fun flat-picking piece for guitar.

A minor-melody tune.

Folk and Traditional Songs

Folk and traditional guitar songs

Ale is Dear fiddle sheet music for beginners

A violin trio, one part of which is almost a single-note "drone".

Very pretty.

All the Pretty Little Horses

This lullaby has lovely repeating melody lines.

In two keys for guitar - there are many possibilities for finger picking with this pretty song!

All Through the Night guitar tablature

All Through the Night

Guitar tabs in the key of D for this pretty lullaby with fancy poetic lyrics.

Ash Grove

An old song from Wales, very pretty.

Blow the Candles Out, lead sheets free to print

A song with an unforgettable melody.

Camptown Races

You'll find a solo version and a duet version here on this page.

Cat Came Back lyrics and chords

Yes, the lyrics are here, on page two!  

This is a very fun song with silly words about the cat that no one can seem to get rid of!

The chord pattern repeats over and over again; it makes for excellent walking bass practice.

The vocal range of this song can be limited to just five notes if necessary... handy for beginning singers.

Colorado Trail song

This is a genuine cowboy song, written by a real cowboy.

Surprisingly sweet, and pretty!

Come By the Hills

A pretty Gaelic song with English lyrics, you may recognize this tune..

Simple chords that are lovely strummed or picked, and lyrics that almost sing themselves!

Dona Nobis Pacem

"Give us peace", a Latin poem from long ago.

Very beautiful round - not easy.

But it can be sung as a solo, too.

Down in the Valley

This two-chord song is a super-easy first finger picking song.

Using "baby" C and "baby" G7,  students can focus on their right hand technique.

The Erie Canal song for guitar players - chords and tabs!

The Erie Canal Song

An old favorite - this song has good energy that kids like!

Found a Peanut

Just two chords & silly words make this a perfect song for a first lesson.  

Use "baby" chords C & G7.

Goober Peas

Kids may fight this unfamiliar song for a week or two until they've heard it enough - and then they love it!

Initially, it is definitely a challenge, in spite of the easy chords, because they change so quickly.

But that's just the kind of practice beginners need.

Greensleeves, the beautiful old melody that also is the Christmas sheet music "What Child is This"

Three versions for guitar:

  • A minor
  • E minor
  • also E minor, but with a lowered seventh tone of the scale - a "lute" rendition

All with tablature for your beginner guitar students!

The Grenadier and the Lady, loveliest of sad songs

A beautiful minor song that tells a story.

Good opportunities for finger-picking, with mostly easy guitar chords.

Happy Birthday

Now with guitar tabs in both the key of G and the key of D!

Also on this page are lead sheets in multiple keys, and several versions for solo piano.

Heigh Ho, Nobody Home

An easy and satisfying round.

This minor song is fun and beautiful.

Home on the Range free tabs & lyrics

This page has a very fancy arrangement with lots of different chords, as well as a very simple 3-chord arrangement, perfect for beginners!

Music for the song I Gave My Love a Cherry

I Gave My Love a Cherry - The Riddle Song

A lovely song with a mystery to work out in the lyrics. 

No tabs yet, but chords, and a recording to listen to.

I Love the Mountains guitar chords & tabs

This is the song I use to teach beginners to switch from the G chord to Em, C, and D7!

It is invaluable for giving them a tactile feel for changing chords with no extraneous motion.

The goal? To keep one finger down on the guitar neck at all times.  With this set of chords, it is possible.

I've Been Working On the Railroad guitar tabs and chords

This is such a fun song, with words that hint at an earlier time.

Kum Ba Yah

A sweet old folk song, perhaps from Africa.

Loch Lomond sheet music for guitar, with chords and lyrics and tabs

Loch Lomond lyrics, chords and guitar tabs

A favorite and famous song from Scotland.

Minstrel Boy free Irish sheet music

Patriotic and beautiful, this song is lyrical and evocative.

A good song for a teenage boy, or young man, but girls could sing it as well.

O Susannah

A favorite old song of the American west.

With a guitar solo and also a guitar DUET!

On Top of Old Smokey

A fun kid song that uses this same melody is "On Top of Spaghetti", all covered with cheese...

Good practice for the three main chords, and for transposing into other keys.

Scarborough Fair with guitar tabs

Scarborough Fair

This lovely piece is timeless.

It is a great song for learning or polishing finger-picking technique.

Several different versions here, including one that shows how to walking bass, with tab.


This is a beautiful song that seems distinctly American.

A lovely piece for finger-picking.

Shortnin' Bread

This  is such a cute little American song - and EASY. 

Just two chords for your beginners, and a melody line that repeats over and over.

For guitar and fiddle!

Skye Boat Song

A pretty song from Scotland, about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie over the sea after the Battle of Culloden.

Check out the newest arrangement showing a fancy finger-picking chord backup.

Sheet music and guitar tabs and chords for "Slumber My Darling," a pretty lullaby

Slumber, My Darling

A sweet and pretty lullaby by Stephen Foster, an American composer from before the time of the War Between the States.

Spanish Ladies, a sea shanty with guitar chords & tabs & lyrics

Spanish Ladies

A sea chantey, or shanty.

This song has been a favorite with young boys!

The melody is rousing and singable, with great minor chords in the harmony.

Very good chord-changing practice.

Several versions.

Melody, guitar tabs, chords, and lyrics for "The Spanish Lady", a bouncy and pretty song

The Spanish Lady

Not to be confused with "Spanish LADIES," above, this cute song tells of how an admirer observes the Spanish lady engaged in one task after another.

No one, it seems, can perform these important feats (such as brushing her hair in the moonlight, washing her feet, etc.) like the Spanish lady can.

A pretty song with lots of energy!

Star of the County Down guitar tabs and chords

HANDS DOWN the favorite guitar song at my studio for young guitar players, with great qualities of endurance!  As in, they do not seem to get tired of it.

The "doubled timing" I have used in this particular arrangement may look peculiar, but it helps young guitarists get the timing accurate.

A sad cowboy song for guitar, with tabs, chords, and lyrics: Streets of Laredo

Streets of Laredo

A sad but pretty song about a young dying cowboy.

Sweet Betsy From Pike guitar chords & tabs sheet music

Sweet Betsy From Pike guitar chords & tabs

And lyrics!  Four verses of this fun American ballad.

Play it in the key of G, or in the more singable key of C.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star music

Sheet music for both guitar and violin, with tabs and chords.

Twinkle violin strings notes

This page talks about teaching this simple piece to a young girl who had no "ear" for the music. 

Ordinarily Twinkle is a piece learned by rote... that was not happening for my young student, so I took an extra step for her.

Wabash Cannonball

An energetic song about a famous train that crosses the mountains, the jungles, the plains.

Waltzing Matilda guitar tabs and chords sheet music

Waltzing Matilda

A beautiful song from Australia.

A great favorite.

The Water is Wide guitar music with tabs and chords

Water is Wide, easy guitar songs

A very pretty song which you may have sung in high school!

True love betrayed is the message of the song - but it is the melody and chords that are the important and memorable parts of this piece.

What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor chords & melody for guitar & fiddle

This piece is EASY and energetic, and a lot of fun. 

Also, check out the 3-page flat-picking duet!

Melody and guitar tablature for "White, Orange, and Green," a pretty traditional Irish tune

White, Orange and Green free Irish sheet music

A memorable song from Ireland about a patriotic young girl with an Irish flag facing off against a British grenadier.

This is also a pretty song, very singable, with satisfying chords that lend themselves to finger-picking for your young guitar student.

Lead Sheets - see this small collection below, then visit the much longer page linked here

Lead sheets for guitar
Guitar tabs All the Pretty Little Horses

All the Pretty Little Horses

A melody that repeats 3 lines, with just one line different.  This song is a confidence builder, and very pretty too!

Initially the dotted quarter note in the 3rd measure of each line may be a challenge!

Guitar tabs for Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Easy guitar tabs, for a student familiar with this famous melody! 

If they are NOT familiar with Amazing Grace, then this will be a string-skipping challenge for a beginner - but worth the effort.

Boil'em Cabbage Down flatpicking song for guitar

Boil'em Cabbage Down

This is THE PERFECT SONG for introducing the "Down, Down-Up" flatpicking stroke to your beginners.

No lyrics, really, but despite that, this song is FUN to play!

Go here to see all the lead sheets at Music-for-Music-Teachers!

Broadway Music

Broadway Musicals List - go to this page to see the best musicals I know!

The beginner guitarist may be able to play the chords, but they won't know what they're doing!

The piano keyboard is the "Rosetta Stone" for musicians

piano keyboard image

On a piano keyboard, we can look and see that between C & D is a black note, called either C sharp or D flat. And between B & C, and between E & F, there are no black notes.

We can see it just by looking -- it is self-evident.

The beginner guitar player has no such obvious visual aids. On the guitar neck, it is just frets, and more frets.

The frets offer no clues of the existence or non-existence of sharps and flats. Instead, the beginner guitarist must memorize the fact that there is no real separate note called E#, no real Fb.

And a note on one string can easily be duplicated on another string. You can play 4th-fret B on the G string, then move next door to the B string and play the same note open.

What's THAT all about? On the piano the notes stay put --- Middle C is always just Middle C. This is true of most instruments, in fact.

The "OUCH" threshold 

Then there's the PAIN problem -- pressing the strings hard enough to eliminate buzz, to make chords sound good. "Squeeze the strings! Squeeze them harder! Just ignore the pain.Now strum -- ugh!

"You have to press the strings harder!

"Tippy-toe, like a ballet dancer. Hmm, you'll have to cut your fingernails. Oh - you didn't know that learning how to play guitar would involve pain and suffering?"

Encourage SOUND... the quality will come!

(Of course, I don't really tell my students their playing sounds bad, even if it does. They may not sound good even when they get their skill down, if their folks didn't find them the best beginner guitar.

You must encourage them along, and if they make good progress, talk their parents into trading in the clunker guitar.)

For older and adult guitar beginners, these issues even themselves out in not too long.

But young kids who are learning how to play guitar need easy steps, even baby steps, adding up to building blocks. They need to move one small step at a time, because in reality they are bringing together so many different skills. And they need lots of repetition.

They should be learning to read tablature

I use very easy beginner guitar books for my guitar students, plus music sheets I make up, beginner guitar tabs. The music sheets are usually guitar tablature in combination with standard music notation.

(You and I both know that if guitar tabs are there, then that's what they're going to be reading, not the treble staff! But they do need the treble clef notes for the rhythm, unless they pick it up by ear.)

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of beginner guitar books out there in music land, and I must have over two dozen myself! But here are the ones I've settled on for now:

And they should read standard notation too

To teach reading notes (instead of just guitar tabs) to my youngest guitar students, I like the Progressive books for Young Beginners. They move slowly, and have CDs.

Primarily, I appreciate these books because they start with one new note per page -- or even per two pages -- NO EIGHTH NOTES (the bane of counting for young kids), and NO TABLATURE to seduce kids away from the task of notereading.

Mel Bay's Easiest Country Guitar for Children is one of the cleverest guitar books I have seen! It is nicely laid out-- it starts with six simple, uncluttered pages each presenting a single topic:

  • How to Hold the Guitar
  • Parts of the Guitar, 
  • How to Tune the Guitar, 
  • Music Basics, 
  • How to Read Guitar Tablature, 
  • and one very good page about Picking Technique. (Unfortunately, there is no real discussion of note values.  I guess that's where you, the teacher, come in!)

Then you turn the page, and it's all music. 

Very simple tunes (such as Railroad Bill, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Wabash Cannonball, Wildwood Flower and Shady Grove) complete with treble clef, guitar tabs, chord symbols, and where necessary, picking indications.

There are no eighth notes in the first part of the book.

Just before the final song is another instructional page called How to Play Slurs. It covers slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs.

Then those techniques are introduced in the last song, Watermelon on the Vine. The book comes with a CD.  It's a great repertoire book, but unlike the Progressive books, it does not teach notereading.

Alfred's Kids Guitar Course 1

But my real favorite both for learning to read the treble clef and beginning chords is Alfred "Kids Guitar Course" Books 1. 

Book One is the simplest book I have found for young kids, because it starts with the "baby" C chord -- just the one-finger on fret 1 string 2 chord, and stays with it for a few pages before venturing on to the baby G7 chord.

Lots of easy chords and strumming and counting practice before learning to pick individual notes.

This has become my favorite beginner's book, because when a little boy shouts with excitement, "That song looks fun!" and starts in playing right away a song that calls for a new technique, my heart is melted.

Another book I like very much as a supplement is Usborne's Very Easy Guitar Tunes. It has NO TABLATURE, so the student is forced to read the treble staff.

There are also no "lessons" with new things to learn -- just nice guitar tunes getting progressively more difficult. Some of the tunes are surprisingly pretty, and there are lots of duets and rounds to make playing together fun.

Because my guitar students frequently find themselves playing along with fiddlers, I recommend that they purchase Mel Bay American Fiddle Method, Vol. 1 .

The first three songs make a great medley (Boilem' Cabbage Down, Shortnin' Bread, and Cripple Creek), and help students really nail down the A, D, and E or E7 chords.

Accompanying other musicians gives real meaning and urgency to their at-home practice time! The songs in this great fiddle series all have chord symbols over the melody lines.

A couple of really great "Teach yourself guitar" books that have impressed me with their well-thought out instruction and content are The Everything Rock & Blues Guitar Book: From Chords to Scales and Licks to Tricks, All You Need to Play Like the Greats (Everything Series) and Usborne's Learn to Play Guitar (Usborne Music Guides) 

If you haven't been playing a long time yourself, or have limited yourself to just one style of playing, you MAY enjoy these books.  Or, they may be totally intimidating!

They aren't really for your students! Instead, garner what you can, and pass it on!

Now, for those of you who are really serious about guitar, as in classical guitar,  there is a fabulous in-depth course I just started using.

I am so pleased with it, and am having fun moving through the 254-page book ahead of my students (although really applying oneself to classical style means longer right-hand fingernails - hard for a piano player!).

This terrific bookSolo Guitar Playing, Book 1, 4th Edition, was originally published in 1968 and has been reprinted several times. It is no-nonsense; no cutesy pictures for little ones, but many photographs of correct hand position and definitely NO TABLATURE!

You may ask, What does the author (Frederick Noad) cover in 254 pages?  As Marley said to Ebenezer Scrooge, "MUCH!"

On Amazon you can look at the entire Table of Contents, and you will see that this is a very well-designed course.

With much repetition of note reading, and steady progression into reading notes on each new string, careful preparation of the student pays off so that by the end of Lesson 7, they can be introduced to the famous Spanish study by Albeniz and not have to use tablature!  

In the following lesson is the beautiful Malaguena.

Solo Guitar Playing Volume 1 (Music Sales America) and Solo Guitar Playing/Book 1 with CD (Classical Guitar) are available at Amazon, and also at Sheetmusicplus, where it also comes with a CD and without.

I got it for about six dollars less at Amazon than at Sheetmusicplus, but the shipping at Sheetmusicplus can't be beat, if you have multiple books to order.  And you can't get used books with Amazon Prime's free shipping... at least not yet!

An update on the Solo Guitar Playing book: It starts out slowly, but lots of little questions pop into your mind that send you asking advice from another teacher.

For example, when pull-offs are first introduced (called "descending ligado" in the classical book), WHO KNEW that your left hand finger comes to rest on the finger board instead of remaining elevated above the neck? Descending ligado is introduced on page 72, but the author doesn't let you in on this little secret until page 89!

Another factor that diminishes my pleasure in the book is the fact the notes are tiny.  TEENY-TINY. To me, anyway. All my students can see the notes just fine -- but to my over-60 eyes, it is irritating sometimes to have to peer more closely.

Still, the book is well worth it. The music selections are wonderful.

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Interested in songs from the Bible for your students or church?  Check out my other website,! clickable logo link

Songs Old & Songs New

All the first-year material I give my beginner students. 

Piano keyboard sheets, scales, chords, note-reading exercises, and over 256 pages of music!

The Story of Esther - a Bible opera!

Queen Esther in the Bible

This beautiful song book for piano & voice "Esther, For Such a Time as This",  available as a digital downloadtells the riveting story of the time when  Jews in ancient Persia faced a foe named Haman, and how a  brave young queen risked her life to save her people.

A good choice for a singing story-teller, an operatic group, a short theater production, or a class of children!

This book is also available from Amazon as a paperback.

Just the Black Keys, a piano song book for young beginners.

Just the Black Keys

This book is available as a digital download  from this site.  Visit this page to see some free examples from the book.

It is also available from Amazon as a paperback!

This is the perfect easy start for little pianists.

And when they start reading white-key notes on the staff, this is a fun easy resource to say each week, "Choose a new black-key song at home this week and figure it out to show me next lesson!"  They will be spending more time at the piano.

The Adventures of Tonsta, Volume 1, is a book about a young boy travelling over mountains and fjords from village to village, encountering trolls and helping folk in distress.

The Adventures of Tonsta

A perfect read aloud storybook
for little boys or girls. 

The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.  

With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.

Lots of trolls in this book - including one who gives him a Christmas gift!

Available at Amazon

A thousand thanks for your beginning piano and guitar songs.

I've already printed several for my children, including the Pretty Little Horses TAB and Carol of the Bells for piano. What a wonderful resource!

Bluegrass Complete music book for guitar

I am a "retiree" and brand new guitar student.

I have used your guitar tabs for Shenandoah and Amazing Grace, and find it exciting to hear real music coming out of my guitar for the first time.

Celtic Mandolin music book

Thank you for a most excellent site. I am a classical guitar teacher, who endeavors to cover chords and finger style as well.

I especially liked the printable Celtic music, as some of my teenage students enjoy it! Thank you, again.

Songs 'Round the Campfire music book

Just wanted to express my overwhelming joy in finding your web site! :D Lots of good info!!

My wife and I own our own teaching studio in Texas and I am always looking for new songs to teach my beginner guitar students. You've done a wonderful job of providing great tunes with ACCURATE sheet music/TAB!

Your web site is wonderful!  Thank you so much!! Many blessings...

Fingerstyle Noel guitar music book

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Do you have a funny story about this music, or does it remind you of something you'd like to share with other readers? Do you have a question? I'd love to hear it!

Please note that all comments are moderated, and will not appear until I have approved them. Also, IF YOU ARE ASKING FOR MUSIC THAT IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, YOUR REQUEST WILL BE IGNORED. That's pretty much any music written in the last 75 years...

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Mr... Learning Guitar 
Hello... to whom this might concern.. some of these songs here are good and easy to do.. I started learning my guitar last year in July and I found …

Teaching Myself How to Play the Guitar--What Tools Should I Use? 
Ma'am, I am 27 years old. I am not a music teacher, but I am teaching myself how to play the guitar. I have a bit of a background in reading and …

I'm New to Guitar Teaching, No Education In It 
Jonas Hi, I'm new to guitar teaching and have no education in it. Tried to teach my daughter and her friend and the first session was just disaster …

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of, and a newer site,

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.

You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.