The Return to Chords (Guitar Lesson)


What are you waiting for? Get your membership now!
David Isaacs

The Return to Chords

Work in the Am, Dm, and Em chords and play them in a melancholy, yet soothing example. You'll also get to work on your basic strumming.

Taught by David Isaacs in Beginner Guitar With David Isaacs seriesLength: 12:18Difficulty: 1.5 of 5


In this lesson, we revisit the A minor chord you learned as a simple three-string form back in lesson 7. This time, we’ll add one finger and two strings to create the complete Am form. Adding this form to the Dm and Em chords you’ve already learned, you’ll then apply the strum concept we explored a couple lessons back to our playalong track, “Sonora”.

The A minor formation itself is very simple, as you can see in the diagram at 00:17: the middle and ring fingers lay side by side on the second fret of the 4th and 3rd strings, while the index sits on the first fret of the 2nd string. Strum five strings, from the open 5th string A across to the open high E. The 6th string E is technically not part of this chord; the note won’t clash, but it does alter the sound of the chord. To make sure we only hear the other five strings, aim the pick so it doesn’t strike the low E. Some people will reach the fretting hand thumb around the neck to muffle the low E string; this works well if your hands are big enough to make the reach, but make sure you’re muting the string and not adding another note to the chord.

Take some time to get reacquainted with the Dm and Em forms as well before moving on to “Sonora”. The track itself has a pair of acoustic guitars, one strummed and one plucked. Listen to the performance and you’ll notice that the playalong part has a different kind of rhythm pattern than we’ve encountered before. All of our strums up to this point have used steady downstrokes (for quarter notes) or paired down-up strokes (for eighth notes). In this case, the strum pattern accentuates an offbeat or upbeat: the “and” rather than the count.

We discovered in lesson 19 that the strumming hand generally stays in motion no matter what rhythm you play. Remember that when playing steady eighth notes, we’re naturally alternating down and up strums on the downbeats and upbeats. Playing quarter note downstrokes, the hand still comes up on the upbeat – it just doesn’t strike the strings. Following the same logic, we can choose not to strike the strings on a downstroke but play the offbeat chord with the subsequent upstroke. This is what’s happening in “Sonora”.

The backing track already has a guitar playing a steady rhythm that accentuates the downbeats. Rather than doubling this part, we’re going to add a complementary rhythm that accentuates the upbeats by leaving out counts 2 and 3: 1 (2, 3) AND 4 AND 1. Following our strum concept, these upbeats would be played with upstrokes. So the strum itself is down (beat, beat) up-down-up-down.

You can articulate beats 2 and 3 by counting them to yourself as you keep the hand moving. It might seem easier at first to strum the first beat and then just wait, but keeping the hand in motion allows you to feel the beat as much as count it. You can also experiment with mixing it up: play whole notes in the beginning and end (indicated by diamond shapes on the chart), then try variations on the strum. If you’re sticking to our strum concept, you should be able to try different accents without losing the beat. This is a great exercise in developing your overall musical skill, or what we call musicianship: remember, you’re playing the guitar, but in the end it’s really about playing music.





Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


Slowblues167Slowblues167 replied on March 25th, 2017

Good stuff. I'm using this as a review and don't really need the full staff. Would be great if you added the lead sheet/chord progression as presented in the video as a resource.

icksterickster replied on December 18th, 2016

As always, great to have an real bit of music to take the hum-drum out of practicing a new concept. Keep up the good work, and I promise to keep practicing like a mad man.

CasaDeBlissCasaDeBliss replied on January 29th, 2016

I just wanted to print out the music pages, and all I got access to was the two pages of notes. What am I doing wrong?

Southern CashSouthern Cash replied on September 30th, 2015

Really awesome lesson and yes the Dm chord gives me fits. Switching to it rapidly is a task.

Beginner Guitar With David Isaacs

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Whether you've never played before, or your coming back to guitar after brief startup attempt, you'll find everything you need to get going in this series. David uses real musical examples to teach even the most basic concepts and techniques.



Lesson 1

The Series Introduction

Don't get stuck learning chords, scales and theory with nowhere to apply the things you work on. Take the "David Isaacs" approach and learn the guitar by using real music. You'll be playing along with...

Length: 2:32 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
Lesson 2

Strings & Things

Tune up, learn your way around your guitar, and explore a simple, musical picking exercise to help you learn the string names. You'll be playing right out of the gate!

Length: 22:20 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Hands on the Fretboard

Learn hand position, posture and see how to set up your playing for success when it comes to your fret hand. Dave goes in depth with his discussion and demonstration of hand mechanics. Don't miss this...

Length: 16:10 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Your First Song!

Learn the E7 minor and Am chords and then immediately put them to use with a simple song. Play along to the provided backing track and feel like you're part of the band...It's only your 4th lesson! Keep...

Length: 15:32 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Power to the Chords

Power chords are some of the most simple and ubiquitous tools for playing and making great songs. Learn the most basic shapes and put them to use right here! Dave also discusses the beginnings of strumming...

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Music & Melody

Learn a simple melody and take in a little info about what a 'key' is. You can learn the melody and have a friend strum the rhythm. Or, do it the other way around!

Length: 18:07 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Two Finger Chords & More

These simple, musical tools can take you a long way. Use your index and middle fingers to play a simple Am chord and a simple E chord. You'll also learn how to read chord charts and play through another...

Length: 16:46 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

A Simple Melody

You will be introduced to a simple A minor scale and then learn a song that helps you get your new scale under your finger tips!

Length: 12:08 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Finger Independence

Do you ever feel like you are wearing mittens while you are trying to practice your guitar playing? If you have ever experienced this sensation, this lesson is for you!

Length: 11:04 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Let's Major on C Major

You'll be introduced to the C Major scale and then you'll be able to put it to use over a soothing acoustic guitar rhythm bed. Have fun!

Length: 10:37 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

The C Chord and G7 Chord

Here you'll get to spend some time applying some fundamental chord shapes. Dave shows how to switch between these two chords seamlessly and, as usual, has a creative example ready to go so you can put...

Length: 18:39 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

G and C Working Together

I know what you're thinking..."I just learned these!" Well, you did learn a C chord and a G chord, but this lesson goes over ways to play these chords together in a chord progression that REALLY sounds...

Length: 11:06 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Playing Most Songs

You've probably heard it before, but most songs out there can really be played with just 3 or 4 chords. In this lesson, Dave gives you the tools to play most of the songs you know and love!

Length: 14:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Rhythm & Charts

We're moving into some new territory with this series now. You'll now be focusing more and more on material that you can play in a band setting. Up until now, you've been applying the basics to real music,...

Length: 24:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

A Taste of the Blues

Learn about the blues form and strum along with a cool, laid back, bluesy track. You'll be able to take the material in this lesson a long way down the road! Don't forget to have fun with it now though...

Length: 12:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Major Pentatonic Music

Learn the C major pentatonic scale and put it to good use over a catchy tune! You'll be surprised how simple this is and how very musical you can be with just 5 notes arranged in a musically interesting...

Length: 8:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Four Fingers and a Chord

The mighty and intimidating F chord is one that most beginners see as a major hurdle in learning the basic chords on the guitar. Dave offers some ways to make the F chord more approachable. Once you examine...

Length: 15:35 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Chord Shapes & Arpeggios

Work on precision with your picking hand and more finger independence with your fretting hand using a soothing practice track called "Chimes". You'll get a good taste of combining melody and rhythm playing...

Length: 15:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Work Those Rhythms

Dave works you through eight different strumming variations, discusses how to feel the groove while keeping the rhythm, and shows you how to take a handful of examples and create any strum pattern you...

Length: 14:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Complete C

Look at the C major scale once again. This time however, you'll get to complete the first position C major pattern. You'll play every note within reach of your first 4 frets. You'll also learn a catchy...

Length: 16:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

The Return to Chords

Work in the Am, Dm, and Em chords and play them in a melancholy, yet soothing example. You'll also get to work on your basic strumming.

Length: 12:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Shifty Pentatonic

Learn the E minor pentatonic scale with a small position shift that will get you out of the open position and moving around the neck a little bit. This is where it really starts to feel like you are owning...

Length: 13:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Let's Major on A Minor

Earlier in the series, we explored the C major scale. In this lesson, the A minor will get some love. Learn the basic open position and use it in a new melody.

Length: 15:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

In 7th Heaven

Back to some chords now. In case you couldn't tell from the title, we'll be focusing on 7th chords for this lesson. You learned A7 a while back, and now you'll learn E7 and B7.

Length: 13:32 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Walkin' The Blues

Take a moment to pat yourself on the back! You've covered a lot of ground so far! You've been playing real music now for some time, and in this lesson, we're going to learn a walking blues line. What is...

Length: 10:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

Moveable Chords

Chords that don't have any open strings in them AND chords whose open strings fit comfortably within the chord all called "moveable chords". Learn how to play a couple chords up the neck.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Moveable Pentatonic

In this lesson, you'll take another big step forward when it comes to working outside of the open position. You'll feel like doing some jamming too!

Length: 8:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

Syncopated Strumming

There are eight more strum patterns for you to dig into in this lesson. This time, they are a bit trickier. Follow along with the rhythm charts and take each example in chunks if needed. Combine them with...

Length: 19:33 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 29

And Now...Barre Chords!

You knew it was coming! This is the lesson where we stop dancing around full fingered moveable chords and dive head first into the most common barre chord shapes. They're not as bad as you may be fearing....

Length: 19:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

Advancing with Blues

As the musical examples continue to distance themselves from that stereotypical beginner sound, Dave works through this track with a simple, moving melody inside a blues progression.

Length: 14:47 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Make It up as You Go

Some of you may have been waiting for this one! Now we'll focus on some improvisation...Some lead playing. It's not about knowing all the scales or trying to be fancy. It is about using what you know...

Length: 12:45 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

Like a Drummer

Learn how to create motion and percussive interest with your strumming. If you look at and listen to how drummers accent general grooves, there is a lot of insight there in to how to make your rhythm playing...

Length: 17:29 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

New Chords, New Strums

Learn B minor chord and continue developing your feel and grooviness when it comes to strumming. Be sure that you are combing over older lessons as well so that you can incorporate many ideas into what...

Length: 21:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

A Start to Alternate Picking

Develop precision in your picking. Learn when it's best to use alternate picking. Get comfortable with a few exercises and then apply the technique in a musical context!

Length: 20:26 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

A Little Bluegrass

We're going to continue with rhythm playing and 16th note strumming, but this time we're going to touch on some laid back bluegrass playing. This is another simple style of playing to add to your arsenal.

Length: 10:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

A Bit More on Barre Chords

Learn a few more barre chord forms and get more advanced with your strumming. As you've come to know and love with these lessons, you'll have a chance to learn a new song!

Length: 13:51 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

Here You Are

You've made it a long way if you've made it to the end of this series! In this final lesson of Mr. Isaacs beginner course, you'll spend some dedicated time moving both major and minor barre chord formations...

Length: 21:58 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only

About David Isaacs View Full Biography Nashville-based Dave Isaacs has made a name for himself as one of Music City's top guitar instructors, working with both professional and aspiring songwriters and artists at his Music Row teaching studio. He is also an instructor in the music department at Tennessee State University and is the coordinator and artistic director of the annual TSU Guitar Summit.

A seasoned performer as well, Dave has released eight independent CDs and gigs steadily as a solo artist, bandleader, and sideman. He continues to write, record, and perform as well as arranging and producing projects for other artists.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Our acoustic guitar lessons are taught by qualified instructors with various backgrounds with the instrument.


Peter Einhorn Peter Einhorn

JamPlay is proud to introduce jazz guitarist Peter Einhorn. In this lesson series, Peter will discuss and demonstrate a way...

Free LessonSeries Details
Alan Skowron Alan Skowron

Alan shares his background in teaching and sets the direction for his beginning bass series with simple ideas and musical...

Free LessonSeries Details
Trace Bundy Trace Bundy

Trace Bundy talks about the different ways you can use multiple capos to enhance your playing.

Free LessonSeries Details
Jessica Baron Jessica Baron

Jessica kindly introduces herself, her background, and her approach to this series.

Free LessonSeries Details
Kaki King Kaki King

In lesson 6, Kaki discusses how the left and right hands can work together or independently of each other to create different...

Free LessonSeries Details
Erik Mongrain Erik Mongrain

Erik expounds on the many possibilities of open tunings and the new harmonics that you can use in them. He explains what...

Free LessonSeries Details
Jim Deeming Jim Deeming

Jim discusses the importance of setting goals. He provides some tips that will help steer your practicing in the right direction.

Free LessonSeries Details
Mark Lincoln Mark Lincoln

Lesson 40 takes a deeper look at slash chords. Mark discusses why they're called slash chords, and how they are formed.

Free LessonSeries Details

Electric Guitar Lesson Samples

Our electric guitar lessons are taught by instructors with an incredible amount of teaching experience.


Brent-Anthony Johnson Brent-Anthony Johnson

Just like with the plucking hand, Brent-Anthony shows us the basics of proper fretting hand technique. In addition, he shows...

Free LessonSeries Details
Nick Greathouse Nick Greathouse

Nick starts his series with Alternate Picking part 1. Improve your timing, speed, and execution with this important lesson.

Free LessonSeries Details
Paul Musso Paul Musso

JamPlay is proud to welcome senior professor and Coordinator of Guitar Studies at the University of Colorado at Denver,...

Free LessonSeries Details
Stuart Ziff Stuart Ziff

Stuart delves into all the different aspects of how R&B guitar has had an impact within reggae music.

Free LessonSeries Details
John DeServio John DeServio

JD teaches the pentatonic and blues scales and explains where and when you can apply them.

Free LessonSeries Details
Brent Mason Brent Mason

Learn Nashville style country guitar from one of the most recorded guitarists in history. Check out rhythm grooves, solos,...

Free LessonSeries Details
David MacKenzie David MacKenzie

David MacKenzie introduces the tapping technique and teaches a fun exercise. This lesson includes a backing track.

Free LessonSeries Details
Joel Kosche Joel Kosche

Joel Kosche talks about creating and composing a guitar solo. He uses his original song "Sunrise" as an example.

Free LessonSeries Details
Daniel Gilbert Daniel Gilbert

Known around the world for his inspirational approach to guitar instruction, Musician's Institute veteran Daniel Gilbert...

Free LessonSeries Details
Lisa Pursell Lisa Pursell

Lisa breaks into the very basics of the electric guitar. She starts by explaining the parts of the guitar. Then, she dives...

Free LessonSeries Details




Join over 476189 guitarists who have learned how to play in weeks... not years!

Signup today to enjoy access to our entire database of video lessons, along with our exclusive set of learning tools and features.



Unlimited Lesson Viewing

A JamPlay membership gives you access to every lesson, from every teacher on our staff. Additionally, there is no restriction on how many times you watch a lesson. Watch as many times as you need.

Live Lessons

Exclusive only to JamPlay, we currently broadcast 8-10 hours of steaming lesson services directly to you! Enjoy the benefits of in-person instructors and the conveniences of our community.

Interactive Community

Create your own profile, manage your friends list, and contact users with your own JamPlay Mailbox. JamPlay also features live chat with teachers and members, and an active Forum.

Chord Library

Each chord in our library contains a full chart, related tablature, and a photograph of how the chord is played. A comprehensive learning resource for any guitarist.

Scale Library

Our software allows you to document your progress for any lesson, including notes and percent of the lesson completed. This gives you the ability to document what you need to work on, and where you left off.

Custom Chord Sheets

At JamPlay, not only can you reference our Chord Library, but you can also select any variety of chords you need to work on, and generate your own printable chord sheet.

Backing Tracks

Jam-along backing tracks give the guitarist a platform for improvising and soloing. Our backing tracks provide a wide variety of tracks from different genres of music, and serves as a great learning tool.

Interactive Games

We have teachers covering beginner lessons, rock, classic rock, jazz, bluegrass, fingerstyle, slack key and more. Learn how to play the guitar from experienced players, in a casual environment.

Beginners Welcome.. and Up

Unlike a lot of guitar websites and DVDs, we start our Beginner Lessons at the VERY start of the learning process, as if you just picked up a guitar for the first time.Our teaching is structured for all players.

Take a minute to compare JamPlay to other traditional and new methods of learning guitar. Our estimates for "In-Person" lessons below are based on a weekly face-to-face lesson for $40 per hour.

Price Per Lesson < $0.01 $4 - $5 $30 - $50 Free
Money Back Guarantee Sometimes n/a
Number of Instructors 82 1 – 3 1 Zillions
Interaction with Instructors Daily Webcam Sessions Weekly
Professional Instructors Luck of the Draw Luck of the Draw
New Lessons Daily Weekly Minutely
Structured Lessons
Learn Any Style Sorta
Track Progress
HD Video - Sometimes
Multiple Camera Angles Sometimes - Sometimes
Accurate Tabs Maybe Maybe
Scale/Chord Libraries
Custom JamTracks
Interactive Games
Community
Learn in Sweatpants Socially Unacceptable
Gasoline Needed $0.00 $0.00 ~$4 / gallon! $0.00

Mike H.

"I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar!"
 

I am 66 years young and I still got it! I would have never known this if it had not been for Jamplay! I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar! Ha! I cannot express enough how great you're website is! It is for beginners and advanced pickers! I am an advanced picker and thought I had lost it but thanks to you all, I found it again! Even though I only play by ear, I have been a member a whopping whole two weeks now and have already got Brent's country shuffle and country blues down and of course with embellishments. Thank you all for your wonderful program!


Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"
 

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


Bill

"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."
 

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on JamPlay.com. Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.



Join thousands of others that LIKE JamPlay!