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Down in the Valley (Guitar Lesson)


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Steve Eulberg

Down in the Valley

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

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Singing with Guitar seriesLength: 17:09Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:27) Musical Introduction Steve begins this lesson by performing a verse of "Down in the Valley." In the scenes that follow, he will provide you with the tools necessary to singing and playing this song.
Chapter 2: (05:21) Down in the Valley As you first learn to play and sing at the same time, it is important to practice songs that are easy to remember. Songs with simple lyrics and chord changes will allow your brain to focus on coordination skills between your hands and voice.

Note: Complete lyrics to this song can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

Strumming Pattern

This song is played with an alternating bass line in 3/4 time. Many of you are probably familiar with playing in alternating bass line in 4/4 time. When playing this type of bass line in 3/4, some adjustments need to be made. Begin by picking the lowest root note on beat one. Then, strum the rest of the chord on the remaining two beats of the measure. In the following measure, play the fifth of the chord on beat one. Then, strum the chord on the last two beats. In 3/4 time, the root and fifth alternate every other measure when playing an alternating bass line.

Chord Progression

The chord progression to this song is very simple. The I, V, and V7 chords in the key of G major are used to harmonize the entire song. Respectively, these chords are G, D, and D7. Refer to Steve's marker board to see how the chord changes line up with the lyrics of the song. Tablature and notation to this chord progression can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

Walk Down

Steve typically applies a descending scalar line to the end of each verse. For example, as he sings the word "blow" at the end of the first verse, Steve strums the G chord for 1 measure. Then, the descending scalar line is played. The line consists of the notes C, B, and A played in a steady quarter note rhythm.

The walk down serves many musical and practical purposes. It breaks the monotony of the simple waltz strumming pattern. Adding the walk down implies a IV to I plagal cadence that creates a strong transition back to the top of the form. It also serves as a helpful memory tool. The walk down is an indication that one verse has ended, and the next is about to begin.
Chapter 3: (02:26) Simplifying the Song In lesson 5 of this series, you learned several ways to simplify a song when you are first learning to sing and play it. Follow these steps to make the learning process easier for you:

1. Isolate and learn the chord progression.
2. Learn the vocal melody to the song.
3. Memorize one verse at a time.
4. Sing the memorized verse without playing guitar.
5. Begin to sing the verse while accompanying yourself on guitar. Do not play the full strumming pattern just yet! Only strum when the chords change.
6. Sing the verse along with the full strumming pattern.
7. Repeat this process with the remaining parts of the song.
8. At 00:20 practice singing and playing the song along with Steve.

Note: Notation and tablature to the vocal melody can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.
Chapter 4: (04:42) Your Voice Keep in mind that the way in which you perceive your voice is different from the way that others hear it. When singing or speaking, the sound that you hear is greatly affected by the vibrations occurring in your chest and nasal cavities. To overcome this perceptual difference, record yourself singing as much as possible. With due time and practice, you will become used to the way your voice sounds to other people.

Supporting the Voice with Proper Breathing

Breathing is one of the most crucial components of singing. Proper breathing improves intonation, phrasing, and tone. Make sure that your breathing originates from your diaphragm. When breathing properly, your abdomen should extend outwards slightly. If your shoulders raise in a shrugging motion, your breathing is too shallow.

Also, you must plan where you will take each breathe within the context of the melody. Before you begin to practice singing the melody, print out the notation for it. Then, mark off each phrase with a pencil. Take a breath roughly about two beats prior to the start of each next phrase.

Note: For more information on this topic, please visit Mark Lincoln's Phase 2 Guitar Performance lessons.
Chapter 5: (03:01) Songs, Singing, and Review Remember to apply what you have learned in this lesson to every song that you sing. When choosing songs to sing, follow the guidelines listed below:

1. Songs that are well-written are easier to sing.
2. Choose songs that are appropriate for your vocal range.
3. Songs with memorable lyrics are much easier to perform. They are typically more enjoyable for the audience as well.
Chapter 6: (01:07) Final Thoughts Playing a musical instrument requires hard work and dedication. However, it should always be fun! Practice your instrument in a way that keeps you entertained and interested. Practicing in such a way will also make your playing more enjoyable to listen to.


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.


burford0714burford0714 replied on August 27th, 2008

would like to get the full song.

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on August 4th, 2009

i'm not sure what you mean by "full song" Steve

fatrascalfatrascal replied on June 20th, 2009

Hi Steve Another cracking lesson... thanks. Whenever I play these songs they still sound rather "boring" and I notice you put lots of extra fingering in on the fret board that I just can't follow.... (bit of hammering on, playing with the melody, etc...) Are these little tricks the same as the riffs - ie. If I learn them for a particular key I can often fit them into any song in that key or is there more to it..???? How about a lesson on "spicing up the strumming" (or a pointer to a lesson where that's already explained??) Thanks Again Cheers Mark

shawlshawl replied on August 24th, 2008

i conquer classic camp song

maddeemaddee replied on August 20th, 2008

A great campfire classic!

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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