Teaching Guitar: The G and D Chords and Learning about Progression

The G and D chords and learning about a progression.

By NAfME member Shelley Brobst

Article Originally Posted On Teaching Guitar Workshops


I started this week’s lesson letting students know that we will be studying 3 more weeks of guitar. While I LOVE guitar classes and would teach nothing but that all year, I do know that not everyone shares my passion and some kids want to get back to making other kinds of music. Kids who share my passion can join me for a lunch time guitar ensemble during the last 9 weeks of school.




Review…warm’em up
We quickly reviewed the Em, C and G7 chords and practiced changes from each chord to the others. Then I asked the question: What do the following 3 songs have in common? We played through “Paperback Writer”, “Jambalaya” and “Feelin’ Alright”. Quickly they were able to recognize that all chords have the C and G7. Some students also recognized the “Rockstar Chord” at the end. That is where the whole note is and we have a special “rockstar” move. I tell them: -C and G7 are part of the C progression – G7 is always seen with C – C has other friends and is seen in other progressions. Before you get all technical with me… I know 7th chords are seen a lot of places! But, we’re talking 5th grade general music class!


Easy as 1,2,3
Next is the G chord – pg. 22. Easy peasy! Make sure to use the 3rd finger!!! You should call their attention to the fact that the G chord uses the note G and they are in the same place. Once we strum this a few times, we watch the Jackson 5 video of ABC. My students all know of Michael Jackson. They are amazed when they learn that he was around their age when he performed this song. Let’s play ABC!



The D Chord!
We learn that G and D are friends just like C and G7. They are part of the same progression. Starting with the G chord in hand, move the 3rd finger over to the 2nd string, same fret. Then add finger 1, then finger 2. Once there, squeeze and you’re playing the D chord. It’s a good idea to show these two chords side by side so you can see the how the 3rd finger is relative to both chords. In this slide the fingers activate when touched to end with the full D chord. Play “Land of A Thousand Dances”. Download G and D Side by Side,

We complete the rest of the page where students practice chord changes. This should be done slowly! Now it’s time to compose! I let students help me choose what chords they want to play in each measure. Even if all measures have been taken, I squeeze in a final G chord to end the progression. The chord names are “infinite cloners”. A few students say, “That sounds pretty good!” I love that they are impressed with themselves. Download Compose G Progression


guitar playing
iancucristi iStock Thinkstock


Giving fingers a quick break we talk about progressions – the reason your composition sounds good! I don’t dwell on any of the information too long… they’ll get more of it from next week’s lesson. Piano and band students really grasp the basic information in this concept. Finally we play “This Land is Your Land” and “You Are My Sunshine”. These songs are familiar and use that G progression. Next week – Green Day! (That really OLD band… a lot of the G progression there!) Download Progression Slide

A few other notes about this lesson. On Monday, I started by having students tune their own instruments. This took way too much time and we were not able to get through the entire lesson. Tuesday and Wednesday, I tuned the guitars for students in 5 minutes. Thursday – I had a substitute! (See my substitute lesson plan)

Download the 3 pdfs…and Good Luck!


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Still don’t think you can do it? Then attend a Teaching Guitar Workshop next summer. You’ll gain the skills and the confidence you need to teach a successful classroom guitar program….for Elementary School, Middle School, High School or even University level! Enroll by January 1, 2018, to save $100! Use promo code EB2018 at checkout.

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Check out this video of Shelley Brobst teaching rest strokes and chords at NAfME headquarters.

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Brendan McAloon, Marketing and Events Coordinator, May 3, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)