Two Chord Song (Guitar Lesson)

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Steve Eulberg

Two Chord Song

Steve advances to a song that features two chords. This time around you will learn "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Singing with Guitar seriesLength: 17:40Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (04:26) Two Chord Song Before diving into the current lesson, take this time to review some of the materials presented in the previous lesson. Steve discussed transposing a melody to a different key that is suitable for your singing voice. You also learned that the easiest way to sing and play a song is by first breaking it down into its most basic components. Only as you become more comfortable should you incorporate more components into your performance.

Learn to Like Your Voice

Most of us are completely surprised when we first hear a recording of our voice. What you hear on tape is much different from what you are used to hearing in everyday life. The resonance that you experience in your face, skull, and nasal cavity effect your perception of what you are hearing. The best way to get over this awkwardness is to record yourself singing as frequently as possible.


Similar to playing the guitar, the key to good technique when singing is remaining as relaxed as possible at all times. Take some deep breaths and exhale them slowly before you begin any piece. In addition, sing with confidence and energy at all times even if you are still in the learning stages of a new song. Confidence can only help the sound of your voice.

Using A Capo

If you don't already own a capo, head to the guitar store as soon as possible to pick one up. This tool is absolutely essential if you wish to sing and play the guitar. You must have a capo if you wish to continue this series of lessons. Steve uses a capo constantly. For this song, Steve has chosen to use the open G major chord. Steve uses this chord shape with the capo placed at the fourth fret. This transposes the key of the song to B major. However, you should move the capo to the best possible key for YOUR voice. Remember that Steve is a bass. If you happen to be a bass, his suggestions may work for you. Otherwise, take the time to find the ideal key for your voice. Experiment with a variety of keys until you find the one that is most comfortable.
Chapter 2: (07:00) Using Two Chords The two chord shapes used in this song are G and D. These chords are the tonic (I) and dominant (V) chords in the key of G major. You can count up on your fingers to find the tonic and dominant chords of any key. Use your thumb as the tonic chord. This will always be the letter name of the key. Then, count up five letters in the musical alphabet.

Harmonizing a Melody by Ear

As Steve sings the melody a capella, accompany him with the chord progression. Where should the chords change? Use trial and error as well as your ears to guide you. The progression changes to the dominant chord (D) twice in the form. Which phrases sound best with a D chord?

A Warning About Internet Tabs

Internet tabs are notorious for their inaccuracies. Also, problems often arise when printing them. Sometimes the chords do not line up correctly with the lyrics. What is printed on paper does not match what appears on the screen. If you wish to learn any song, make sure that the transcription is from a reliable, legal source such as JamPlay.
Chapter 3: (06:13) When to Strum The best way to begin practicing this song is to strum each chord for a whole note when the chords change. Hold each chord out until the next chord comes along. Try this exercise along with Steve. Then, try it by yourself. Once you feel comfortable playing the song in this manner, strum in a steady half note rhythm. Next, increase the frequency of your strumming to every quarter note. Finally, repeat the exercise using eighth notes. This requires that you alternate your strumming direction. Watch Steve carefully as he demonstrates this strumming pattern.

Do not advance to the next smallest division of the beat until you have mastered the current rhythm you are working on. Regardless of what rhythm you are working on, you must keep plowing forward if you make a mistake. Then, after you have completed the song, address any specific errors you have made. Isolate and spend extra time with problem sections.

Experiment with other rhythms such as the"boom-chuck" and the alternating bass line. Singing along with these rhythms requires a much higher level of coordination between the brain, hands, and voice. Also, develop some of your own strumming patterns. Compose these strumming rhythms while just playing. Then try to incorporate the voice.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Supplemental Learning Material


Member Comments about this Lesson

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

alfredo2010alfredo2010 replied on June 17th, 2013

It seems to me that I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel ! ;) Thanks!

jnc51jnc51 replied on April 15th, 2011

Great job explaining singing with guitar. You've been progressing me at a great rate.

urbanfoodurbanfood replied on June 4th, 2009

yes please show us that strum you ended the lesson with, that was really cool!

msteenhoekmsteenhoek replied on February 14th, 2009

Could you post the chords as you have them written on the board behind you? It's really hard to follow them when you are just "singing" them.

jaysanjaysan replied on January 24th, 2009

hello! After seeing this personnal interpretation, i should say that a whole new vision of music has come to me. The most interesting thing that i'd like to know is how to get this rythm with my guitar. It's seems that there's almost a beat backing you up! Love this technique.

EdwinaEdwina replied on May 31st, 2008

When are you going to show us how to play that funky strum you ended the lesson with? That was great!!

tedted3tedted3 replied on May 17th, 2008

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

SylviaSylvia replied on May 16th, 2008

awww! that's awesome! you go Baby Mav-girl

mav67mav67 replied on May 16th, 2008

I love the way you got funky with it in the end, my 3 year old daughter was mesmorized trying to sing along, lol

Singing with Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Singing and playing the guitar together can add another dimension to your ability as a musician and guitarist. This skill is particularly useful for those who enjoy playing rhythm guitar.

Lesson 1

One Chord Song

Steve Eulberg launches this lesson series by teaching a one chord song. Starting with easy songs allows you to isolate your voice and guitar playing.

Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Lesson 2

Two Chord Song

Steve advances to a song that features two chords. This time around you will learn "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Length: 17:40 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Three Chord Song

Steve progresses to a three chord song - "This Land Is Your Land." This song features the primary triads in the major tonality.

Length: 14:24 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Four Chord Song

Steve demonstrates how to sing and play the song "BINGO." This song can be harmonized with either four or five chords.

Length: 13:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Increasing the Difficulty

Steve Eulberg ups the ante with a more advanced sing-along lesson. He teaches you how to play and sing the song "Take It Easy" by the Eagles.

Length: 12:07 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Learning Songs

Steve talks about some of his favorite resources for learning and discovering new songs.

Length: 8:36 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Down in the Valley

Steve Eulberg teaches the classic folk song "Down in the Valley."

Length: 17:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Steve Eulberg teaches the John Denver song "Sunshine On My Shoulders" in this Singing with Guitar lesson.

Length: 31:27 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Last Thing on My Mind

Steve Eulberg teaches the essentials of singing and playing the song "Last Thing on My Mind."

Length: 27:39 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

How Songs Behave

Steve talks about how songs and tunes behave in this lesson. This information will make basic songs easier to play along with.

Length: 13:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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