I Love the Mountains is a traditional "singing around the campfire song"... it seems like every American child was born knowing the tune of this song! I can guarantee that this free guitar tablature sheet music with lyrics will be one of your beginning students' favorite songs for beginner guitar.
For one thing, it seems that every child already KNOWS this melody and FEELS the way the chords need to go, and as soon as they realize that playing the song is within their grasp, they just have to work on it.
And that makes this song PERFECT for my devious plan: make them practice the transition from the G chord to the Em chord to the C chord to the D7 chord until they can do it with their eyes closed! This is frequently the song that gets my guitar students over the hump of changing chords without stopping in-between.
Here is this old camp song favorite in two keys: the key of G, with the chords G, Em, C (Am), and D7, and the key of C, with the chords C, Am, F (Dm), and G7. Believe it or not, this is a great song for beginners. I like to start with the key of G version.
Download free guitar tabs I Love the Mountains in key of G
You may say, "This song should be written in 4/4 time, not 6/4!" It doesn't matter. We are trying to get beginners to count, and notes with 1, 2 or 3 beats are much easier to count than dotted quarters and eighth notes. Understanding is our goal...the dotted rhythms can come later. I really feel that this is a weakness of too many beginning guitar books, introducing hard-to-count rhythms to students just starting out.
I actually teach I Love the Mountains by rote to beginner guitar players, writing the guitar chords' names on kids' lesson sheets. What I like about the chords of I Love the Mountains (in the key of G only) is that you can move from one chord to the next without lifting your hand completely off the guitar neck. It is a fun skill, and pushes kids to really lock in these chords, for I make it a goal to be able to play this chord progression with closed eyes.
First, the G chord. For this song, I recommend the fingering that puts finger 1 on string 5, and finger 2 on string 6.
When it's time to move to the Em chord, you leave the 1 finger on string 5, and pull the 2 finger up next to it (on fret 2).
Then, to move to the C chord, leave your 2 finger in place, swivel your hand away from you, and plant the 1 and 3 fingers their usual places.
Moving to the D7 chord, leave the 1 finger on second string first fret, and let the other fingers set down on either side of it on fret 2.
Preparing to go back to chord G again, it is the turn of finger 3. Letting the other fingers go, slide finger 3 down one fret to fret 3, string 1. Arch the other two fingers across the neck, like a couple of birds stretching their necks. Land them on strings 5 and 6, where they began.
Doing the song this way, your left hand is always in contact with the guitar neck and you can learn to play these chords while looking away from the guitar.
When your beginning guitar students know I Love the Mountains well, have them switch to the key of C. NOT as much fun. But excellent practice, and a good introduction as to just what transposing is all about! This might also be the time to introduce the capo, and a discussion about high voices and low voices, and choosing a key that most people can sing in.
You might let them struggle with the F chord for a couple of weeks in order to lose some of their fear of it, then ask if they'd like to try the substitute chord Dm. Dm will seem so easy after F!
But another good idea is to let them substitute an FM7 chord for the small F; exactly like a 4-string F chord, but leaving off the first fret on string one. String one stays open. In this way, the chords of the song have almost identical hand shapes; C to Am to FM7 differ from each other by just one finger change or so. Your guitar student may actually be intrigued.
Download free guitar tablature sheet music in key of C
The chord fingering doesn't work out quite as neatly as in the key of G, but the key of C chord hand positions are still very close.
For most people, I Love the Mountains is easier to sing in the key of C, something a guitar player needs to consider. Also, the kids' piano-playing friends surely know this song in the key of C, if they know it at all! So teach both versions...your guitar students need to be comfortable changing keys, thinking "up" or "down" a 4th or a 5th, or any interval.
At first, the strum should just be a simple "Down - Down - Down - Down." Although this song moves too fast for 4 beats, we do slow it down for the first month (or two or three), taking 4 beats on each chord.
For good strumming, KEEP THE ARM MOVING. Your strumming hand is always moving Down (up) Down (up); even when you start doing a more complicated pattern such as quarter eighth-eighth, there will always be an "up" stroke after every down stroke -- it's just that sometimes you will brush the strings for an audible "up" and other times it will be silent.
This camp song will be your guitar student's favorite guitar chords warmup for a long while!
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!
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