I've Been Working on the Railroad
Guitar Tabs and Chords

I've Been Working on the Railroad - guitar tabs and chords in two different keys.

Though this is a traditional and old song, don't assume your students have heard this song before.

But being easy to learn, except for one surprising chord, they will be singing it in no time!

Here it is in the key of G, the version that has a tricky new chord (B).

Scroll down the page for the links to the free printable PDFs.

I've Been Working on the Railroad guitar tabs

You see that B major chord at the end of line three?  It might stop your students right in their tracks.

The A7 chord might be a new one as well, but that one is EASY.

So, to approach the new B major chord:

A major chord on guitar
  • I have my students make an "A" chord, then 
  • swap out their fingering to leave index finger free.  Then, 
  • it's barre chord time!

  • We slide the chord "up" one fret (meaning, closer to the sound hole, further from the tuning pegs)
  • Lay the index finger down across the top fret: now we have the chord of Bb. (We could call it A# as well; but tradition and a couple of other reasons dictate that Bb is the best name.)
How to make a B major chord on the guitar
  • Slide up one more fret.  Now the index finger should be laying across the second fret. 

If the rest of the fingers have behaved and stayed in place, then we have achieved a B chord!



But your young students won't be happy.  Unless you have been working with them on barre chords, this may be a huge stumbling block instead of a challenge!

Therefore, I ask them, 

"So do you want to play the barre chord, or just the 4-string chord for now?" 

Laaaaa!  The clouds part, and light is seen.  Turns out that the 4-string chord is perfectly acceptable to them.  

Still not VERY easy, still not very PRETTY... but it's a start.

Now here's page two; it uses just the three main chords. 

But because it only uses the I, the IV, and the V chords, this seems like an opportunity for a new challenge. 

Therefore, I ask the kids to tell me WHAT those 3 main chords will be, if we are in the key of G.  

Dinah won't you blow your horn sheet music

Holding up the five fingers of one hand, we count up, "G, A, B, C, D..."  If G is "1", then C and D are the 4 chord and the 5 chord. 

Our trial run through page two is GUESSING which chords are played where, as we sing it through without the sheet music.  They usually do pretty well!

I like for my guitarists, even the young ones, to have an idea of how chords are built.  

 Therefore, we frequently find ourselves over at the piano keyboard or using a piano keyboard paper chart, especially when working on notereading or building chords.

The layout of the piano keys is the "Rosetta Stone" for musicians.

The key of C is the other option for this guitar song:

The Railroad song, in the key of C


The only problem is... yes, that darned F chord.  It's so hard to make it sound good!  But PRACTICE makes, well, PALATABLE.  Perfection will come!

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah sheet music

When I was a girl, we used to pile into the back of my grandparents' milk delivery truck and head "out the road" for a fun day at a local swim hole.

Together with lots of root beer, chips, hot dogs, floatable inner tubes and COUSINS, we'd have a blast. 

Half the fun was singing silly songs on the thirty-minute drive out there.  We'd sing "My gal's a corker; she's a New Yorker...", "Found a Peanut," and a few other favorites.

I've Been Working on the Railroad was the one I knew best, and remembered all the words to!




Here are the links to the free sheet music with guitar tabs:


Download I've Been Working on the Railroad guitar tabs in the key of G


Download Railroad song with guitar tabs in the key of C






Recent Articles

  1. God Rest You Merry Gentlemen for Piano Free Sheet Music

    God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, now with a SIMPLE arrangement for your beginner piano students as well as two harder piano arrangements, and lead sheets.

    Read More

  2. Angels We Have Heard on High - Free Christmas Songs Arrangements

    Angels We Have Heard on High seems complicated with the fancy "Gloria" chorus, but these quick-to-learn piano and guitar arrangements will make it seem much EASIER for your students.

    Read More

  3. I've Been Working on the Railroad Guitar Tabs

    I've Been Working on the Railroad - guitar tabs help students learn this old-time favorite easily. Easy to sing, this song is easy to love!

    Read More

  4. Round Music from England, The Hart He Loves the High Wood

    An unfamiliar, pretty round, with poetic words from England of long ago. Not hard!

    Read More

  5. Note Reading Worksheets for Grand Staff & Single Staffs

    These note reading worksheets are different versions of grand staff, treble clef staff, and bass clef staff sheets. Free downloads!

    Read More












Sign up for "Take Note!" to see what's new every month.





Comments

Have your say... Leave me a comment in the box below.