Another song lesson video: “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen / Jeff Buckley

Here's my latest free song lesson video: A beginner lesson on Leonard Cohen's amazing "Hallelujah." My arrangement is inspired by the gorgeous Jeff Buckley cover. If you enjoy it, please subscribe to my new YouTube channel. Here's the chord chart. It's been so fun releasing these free song lesson videos over the past couple weeks. I remember the excitement my ...

Song Lesson Video: “Let Her Go” by Passenger

Here's my first-ever free song lesson video: "Let Her Go" by Passenger, for beginning and intermediate guitarists who want to learn how to both sing and play the song. This gorgeous tune is already hugely popular, and now that it's the soundtrack to Budweiser's cute Super Bowl puppy-and-horse-are-buddies commercial, the hugeness will only expand. Here's the chord chart. Some background... ...

Easy Guitar Songs for Kids

I teach kids as young as three years old to play guitar. One of the keys to teaching really little kids, besides knowing how to spontaneously burp, wiggle your ears, and listen to that orange/banana knock-knock joke 3,000 times without going AWOL, is choosing the right material. Kids this young can barely pick their own nose, so there’s no way …

Improvising 201: Spinach for Dinner

Welcome to Chef Hampton’s All-You-Can-Stand Improvisational Guitar Buffet. Our first course is boiled spinich–a bland, soggy scale exercise that is nonetheless packed with vitamins and minerals. Fortified with clear diagrams and video clips, this meal is an important part of a beginning guitarist’s diet. Bon Appetit! In Improvising 101, the appetizer to today’s meal, I introduced the A minor pentatonic …

Improvising 101

When I propose to my beginner students that they try out improvising, most give me a funny look. It’s something like, “You’ve got to be kidding me, I can’t even play for more than a minute without dropping my pick in the soundhole.” I’d like to say it’s a “Master Yoda, I am not yet prepared to face Lord Vader” …

Pick-Hand Flight School

Students in my recent workshop at Pick-Hand Flight School,West Point Military Academy. I didn’t take any guff from those cocky flyboys. What’s the hardest thing about playing guitar? Sore fingers? Sore neighbors? I’d say the hardest part is hitting the correct string when playing single notes. Consider the rock star up there on stage. He’s singing into the mic, so …

Gifts From the Guitar Gods – Easy Songs that Sound Hard

“Hey Zeus, check out this cool riff I learned!” A couple days ago a Notebook reader was telling me how much she was enjoying learning “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, and asked me if there were some similar songs I could recommend. “Wish You Were Here” is such a great song for beginning and intermediate guitar players. Usually, …

A Memo From the Department of Thumb Placement Correction

Today I’m going to expose what I consider the most pervasive and insidious bit of misinformation plaguing modern society. No, it’s not that Columbus didn’t discover America. It doesn’t have anything to do with racism, the environment, or politics. It’s about thumb placement. That’s right folks, Thumb, with a capitol T, that rhymes with C, that stands for CONSPIRACY! Open …

How to Strum a Guitar – Strumming 101

This Tutorial Will Teach You To Strum in 20 Minutes When I was a teenager teaching myself guitar in the 1980’s, the web didn’t exist. Googling wasn’t something you did on the computer—you did it with your eyes, at the girl who sat across from you in Chemistry. So when I had a question about guitar technique, I had to …

The Importance of Having Fun

What’s the use of practicing guitar if you’re headed toward burnout? Whenever you’re working on something–a song, as skill, and exercise–you should be listening to your gut, asking yourself if what you’re doing is inspiring you. I mention this because in yesterday’s post How To Practice, I listed some principles for practicing that some of you might consider a bit …