Down in the Valley
for Beginner Guitar

Down in the Valley is a great foundational guitar tune that teaches some guitar basics, such as walking bass and fingerpicking (VERY EASY 3-finger approach).

Check out this free guitar tab music, in two versions...

Just 2 chords? Perfect!

Talk about easy guitar songs! Only two basic guitar chords, and an easy melody, but it can be played so many ways.

Down in the Valley guitar tabs

Please scroll down the page for the links to the PDF music

The tiny form of the C chord

The first chords I teach a beginner are simple 1-finger chords -- "Little" C and "Little" G. Both use only three strings.

Little C uses strings 1, 2, & 3 (the high-sounding E, B, & G strings), pressing Left Hand finger 1 on the first fret of the B string.

Voila -- the three strings now "spell" the three notes of a C chord, C, E, and G! (But a little scrambled up: G, C, & E.)

A small version of the G7 chord

To change to G7, all you need to do is lean that first finger back on to the first fret of the E string (and get OFF the B string). Suddenly the strings become G, B, & F: the necessary sounds of a G7 chord. 

From strumming to finger-picking

After strumming these small chords with a pick or fingernail - or even brushing with the thumb for a couple of weeks, I like kids to switch to finger-picking.

No, I don't use the flat-pick exclusively with this arrangement of Down in the Valley.

Personal preference. I want the kids to be able to feel where the strings are under their hands.

We'll go back and forth from pick to fingers, depending on what we're doing in the accompaniment.

Get them in "touch" with the strings

The contact with the strings is so much better using fingers, that even if they struggle at first learning to use their fingers, the accuracy at plucking the right string is worth it.

Others may disagree with me -- that's fine! (Why are musicians more like cats than sheep? You can't herd 'em.)

Perfect for the very first picking song

With only three strings to worry about, the chords of Down in the Valley are easy for a first picking song.

Push the thumb AWAY, pull the fingers TOWARD you. I have my students use "Thumb, index, middle; thumb, index, middle," while we sing the words and I play along on a second guitar.

If they have trouble, practice the plucking pattern with open strings until they get the hang of it, then go back to the little chords.

Watch out for a held finger on the guitar face

I used to counsel students to "anchor" their RH (right hand) pinky (that's the small finger for you non-American English speakers, or finger 5 for pianists) on the guitar close to the sound hole.

It's a common habit among guitarists, but now I avoid it, because it is a habit that must be broken when they go on to classical music...

This "simple" skill isn't really so simple

Did I mention that beginning guitarists might go home from the lesson and become fainthearted about this new finger-picking skill?  Or completely forget what you were talking about?

New things are always hard to do; you need to creep up on them sometimes, and just take it slowly. Don't worry about it if they come back and can't do it, just start over again.  Lots of repetition is the key.

What about walking bass?

Some time later on, when they've gotten good enough to play full C & G7 chords, we come back to Down in the Valley again, and do our first WALKING BASS.

On the sheet below, the measures just before the chord changes show the bass notes walking up or down to join the new chord. (The melody notes are still on the strings, above the walking bass, although they are not meant to be played simultaneously -- play EITHER the chords and walking bass tab, OR the guitar tablature for the melody.) 

Walking bass for Down in the Valley easy guitar tabs

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

But before we do WALKING bass, we experience bass notes in general.

Instead of just a plain strum, we do "Thumb-strum-strum, thumb-strum-strum." (Later, we will do it with the flatpick, when they are so familiar with the expected sound that they will know immediately if they have picked the wrong string.)

What's a "rest stroke"?

I have the kids use a REST STROKE, pushing the chord's bottom string (bass note) away from them with the thumb into a stopped position on the next string, followed by two strums of the rest of the strings.

This gives a solid "feel" to the first beat, while the 3/4 time -- waltz time -- encourages a strong bass note.

You will be a better musician if you can sing along

Singing as you play an instrument seems easy to some guitarists, but is a real big step for some children.

I would encourage it bit-by-bit. Have them count the rhythm aloud with you: "1,1,1, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1,1,1, 1-2-3-hold-2-3," etc. If you sing and count aloud as you play, they'll gradually catch the habit.

Down in the Valley is a great piece to play with a group -- singers and other instrumentalists can get into the act so easily! 


The links to the guitar music:



Download free guitar tab music Down in the Valley



Download beginner guitar tabs with walking bass 








Interested in songs from the Bible for your students or church?  Check out my other website, SingTheBibleStory.com!

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.

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.