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David Isaacs

David Isaacs

From Dave Isaacs Group

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,... (more)

David currently offers 307 guitar lessons at JamPlay, with 112 beginner lessons, 170 intermediate lessons, 20 lessons in our Artist Series and 5 Lick & Riff Library entries.

Beginner Guitar With David Isaacs

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 simple song examples after the second lesson!

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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 simple song examples after the second lesson!

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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!

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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 lesson!

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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 up the good work!

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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 and note values.

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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!

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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 fun real-world example that includes a slightly more advanced chord.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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 your new knowledge to good use right away!

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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 great. The more ways you know how to play and use these basic chords, the more interesting your playing will become!

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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!

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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, but we're going to step it up a notch now! Get ready and have fun!

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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 too!

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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 way.

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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 the wrist and finger position for the F chord, you'll put it in a nice musical context for your practicing fun!

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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 in this lesson as well!

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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 wish!

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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 tune that puts this knowledge to good use.

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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.

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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 your instrument!

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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.

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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.

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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 a walking blues line you ask? Well, you're in the right place!

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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.

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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!

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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 the ideas in the previous strumming lesson for even more fun!

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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. Isaacs' straight forward, musical approach particularly shines on this often avoided topic for beginners.

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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.

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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 to make a lasting impression on the listener, and you'll be surprised at how little you have to play in order to do just that!

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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 groove.

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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 you are playing.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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 around the neck.

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The Beginner Rhythm Guitar Practice Plan, Vol. 1 : The Fundamentals

The human body is essentially a machine, and like any other machine - if used improperly it can start to break down. Join David Isaacs as he gets down to the nuts and bolts of chording and chord progressions. We'll get under the microscope and break down open position and Barre Chords - finger by finger, while discussing the ergonomic benefits of proper hand positioning. We'll also cover the minimalist movements required to create fluid, accurate chord changes that can help avoid injury and maintain fretting hand stamina.

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Introduction

Welcome to 'The Beginner Rhythm Guitar Practice Plan, Vol. 1 : The Fundamentals'.

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Parallel and Oblique Finger Movements

Many times a chord change can be accomplished with minimal movement. Let's dive right into the fundamental mechanics of guitar playing by covering parallel and oblique finger movements.

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Parallel and Oblique Finger Movements - Practice Guide

Now let's practice the minimalist approach to chord changes that we learned in the previous lesson.

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The Flip or Forearm Rotation

Efficient movement is key to cleanly making quick or numerous chord changes. In this lesson, Dave will cover one of the most useful movements in guitar playing - 'The Flip'

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The Flip or Forearm Rotation - Practice Guide

In this next lesson, we'll run through some repetitions of the 'The Flip' in order to commit it to muscle memory.

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Chord Qualities

True mastery of our chords comes not only from memorizing the names of the chords, but by being able identify the actual sound of the chords. Here, Dave will discuss the importance of positioning and efficiency in order to create quality recognizable chord sounds.

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Chord Qualities - Practice Guide

Now lets run through some repetitions of the previous exercise in order to really polish the quality of our chords.

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Chord/Scale Relationships

The relationship between chords and scales are one in the same, being that typically the scale resides within the chord itself. In this lesson, Dave will cover how to use the scale of a chord to identify alternate versions and placements of well known chords.

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Chord/Scale Relationships - Practice Guide

Alright now let's commit the scales within the chords to memory with the goal of being able to create a melody derived from our chord progression.

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Primary Chords in D

We've all heard chords that sound like they were made for each other. In this lesson, David will cover some of the chords that work best with a D chord, as well as how to identify them alphabetically and numerically.

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Primary Chords in D - Practice Guide

Ok. Now let's practice the chord progression provided by David in the previous lesson.

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Primary Chords in F

Let's take things up a notch and apply the same concept that we covered with the D chord, only now with more difficult F chord.

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Primary Chords in F - Practice Guide

Now it's time to practice the F chord progression provided in the previous lesson.

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The Full Barre F Chord

Time to get real. Barre Chords are a real challenge for many players. Many times this difficulty stems from less than optimal finger placement, as well as 'over-gripping' the guitar. In this lesson, Dave will discuss using some ergonomic finesse when utilizing the full bar 6-note F Barre Chord.

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The Full Barre F Chord - Practice Guide

Alright, now let's put in some repetitions and practice the full bar 6-note F Chord.

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The A Shape and the B Chord

Continuing down the rabbit hole with our Barre Chords, Dave will now discuss the correlation between the A shape and B Barre Chord.

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The A Shape and the B Chord - Practice Guide

Here's a chance to put in some repetitions of the A-shape and B Barre Chord covered in the previous lesson.

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Minor Barre Chords

Let's continue our exploration of Barre Chords and dive into the realm of Minor Barre Chords. In this lesson, Dave will cover the ergonomics and placement of the B Minor Barr Chord.

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Minor Barre Chords - Practice Guide

Now it's time to practice the construction and application of our B Minor Barre Chord.

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The Minor E Shape Barre Chord

Continuing with our Barre Chords, Dave will now discuss the the E Minor Barre Chord as well as the four primary shapes that are prevalent in modern music.

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The Minor E Shape Barre - Practice Guide

Ok. Now let's practice committing the E Minor Chord Shape from the previous lesson to muscle memory.

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Combining Barre Chord Forms

We previously mentioned the four primary Barre Chord shapes. Now let's follow Dave as he covers how to ergonomically combine these shapes into a single chord progression.

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Combining Barre Chord Forms - Practice Guide

In this lesson, we will run through some repetitions of the chord progression provided in the previous lesson in order to commit the four primary Barre Chord shapes to muscle memory.

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Chord Review and Basic Chord Progressions

Coming down the homestretch! In this review, Dave will cover the open-position and fretted Barre Chords which, when committed to memory, will allow us to play all twelve major and minor chords in two positions!

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Chord Review and Basic Chord Progressions - Practice Guide

Congratulations! Here we are on our final exercise of the course. Let's bring it home with some repetitions of the extended chord progression from the previous lesson.

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The Beginner Rhythm Guitar Practice Plan, Volume 2: Strumming & Groove

Welcome to volume two of Dave Isaacs' Beginner Rhythm Guitar Practice Plan. With the fundamentals under your fingers, it's time to start looking at concepts that drive groove and pocket. This is an essential course for any aspiring rhythm guitarist.

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Beginner Rhythm Guitar Practice Plan Vol. 2 - Strumming and Groove

Welcome to volume two of David Isaacs' Beginner Rhythm Guitar Practice Plan. Before moving to volume two, you should have a proficient understanding of the concepts and techniques taught in volume one. This series will focus on strumming, counting rhythm and creating good groove and pocket.

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Pulse, Meter and Rhythm

To kick off this series, David defines a few terms such as pulse and meter while discussing some basic written notation ideas. You'll get going with some basic rhythmic counting, then move on to practical application in the next lesson.

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Pulse, Meter and Rhythm - Practice Guide

Now let's apply the concept from the previous lesson in a practical manner. You'll be strumming rhythm to basic rhythmic subdivisions along with the supplemental content provided.

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Working With a Metronome

The metronome is never wrong and that may be why many people loathe it. In this concept lesson, David talks about working with the metronome and using it as a reference instead of following it. You'll be working on different permutations of playing on a beat.

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Working With a Metronome - Practice Guide

Now let's apply those beat permutations that you worked on in the previous lesson, to a practice exercise. Remember, you're reading from the supplemental content and using the metronome as a tempo guide.

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Strum Mechanics

As you start to strum patterns in 8th note or further subdivisions, you need to be able to strum in both directions and as efficiently as possible. In this concept lesson, David will help you create even strumming in both directions.

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Strum Mechanics - Practice Guide

Now that you've got your strum mechanics down. Let's practice several combinations of rhythm that include up-strokes.

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Backbeat Groove Concept

David introduces the idea of dynamics, specifically how they relate to the backbeat in the groove.

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Backbeat Groove Concept - Practice Guide

Now let's practice accenting the backbeat in this practice guide based on the previous lesson.

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Syncopated Groove

In this lesson, David talks about the three levels of sound that you're already producing and introduces the concept of syncopation. You'll also briefly start to look at targeting specific strings in your strum instead of playing all six strings.

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Syncopated Groove - Practice Guide

Now it's time to practice the syncopated rhythm. You'll be starting at a slightly faster tempo now, so if you're falling behind a little, bring out your metronome and start a bit slower.

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Sixteenth Notes and the Wrist Snap

In this lesson, David discusses the sixteenth note subdivision and clues you in on a wrist-snapping technique that will help you keep time and produce great sound!

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Sixteenth Notes and the Wrist Snap - Practice Guide

Now that you've seen the wrist-snap in action, lets practice the sixteenth note exercises you learned in the previous lesson.

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Syncopated Rhythms

It's time to take another look at syncopation. This time we're going to be adding notes and figures that carry the music across the bar line.

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Syncopated Rhythms - Practice Guide

Now that you're familiar with crossing the bar line, lets practice that skill.

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Muting and Percussion

One way to add dynamic interest to your playing is to add non-tonal elements that fit within the groove or pocket. In this lesson, David discusses muting and percussive techniques to do that.

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Muting and Percussion - Practice Guide

All right, now lets apply those muting and percussion techniques to practice.

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Shuffle and Swing

Mixed in with straight and sub-divided rhythms are other layers of movement commonly referred to as Shuffle and Swing. These layers push and pull the notes in various ways around the musical grid and add additional life to your playing.

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Shuffle and Swing - Practice Guide

With the idea of Shuffle and Swing in your brain and under your fingers, it's time to test it out with some practice!

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The Ghost Strum

Ghost strumming is a technique where you keep an eighth or sixteenth note grid going with your strumming hand, but only sound the strings on the beats that you want to. This is a great method for keeping time while playing complex rhythmic figures.

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The Ghost Strum - Practice Guide

Now let's put your knowledge of the ghost strum to the test in this practice session.

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Syncopated 16th Note Rhythms

In this lesson Dave dives deeper into syncopation, this time subdividing in sixteenth notes.

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Syncopated 16th Note Rhythms - Practice Guide

Now that you're familiar with 16th note syncopation, let's get it under our fingers with practice.

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Single Note Rhythms

In the previous lessons, we've been focused almost completely on chord-based rhythms. In this lesson, David takes a look at rhythm while using single notes.

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Single Note Rhythms - Practice Guide

Now it's time to wrap up this volume of the Beginner Rhythm Guitar Practice Plan by practicing the sixteenth note rhythm you learned in the previous lesson.

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The Beginner Rhythm Guitar Practice Plan, Volume 3: Fretboard Harmony

In the beginning of your guitar journey, you probably memorized shapes. This “geometric” approach is very helpful early on, but real command of the neck comes from knowing the relationships inside those shapes. We’ll do this by exploring the intersection between scale and chord forms, and how we pull chord tones from scales to create different sounds we can learn to recognize by ear as well as by formation.

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Series Introduction

Dave gives you a description of the course and what you need to know to get going.

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Fretboard Mapping

Dave helps us understand string and note relationships across the neck as a way to understand the fretboard. Specifically, we are going to look at octaves from string to string.

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Fretboard Mapping - Practice Guide

Dave shows us an exercise using those octave shapes to really cement them into place for us, breaks it down, and then we practice it together.

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Scale Degrees

Now we are going to look at scales. Why scales in a rhythm course? Because it will inform how the chords in a key relate to each other. So we will first learn how the scale degrees sound.

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Scale Degrees - Practice Guide

This exercise walks us through the scale degrees and helps us familiarize them with shapes on the neck.

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Basic Chord Theory: Triads

The first step to understanding how chords work is learning about triads, or three note groups that form the basic building blocks of chords.

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Triads - Practice Guide

In this exercise, we use the triads we just explored in the previous lesson to outline melodic figures in a progression.

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The Chord Scale

In this lesson we are going to explore the primary, or diatonic, notes in the major scale. These are the notes that we will use to build the diatonic chords to a key.

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The Chord Scale - Practice Guide

Now Dave will show us an exercise that will use the triads to build a scale of diatonic chords across and up the neck.

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Chord Theory: Intervals Within a Chord

Dave is going to explore two note forms, stripping chords down even further so that we can become familiar with implying full chords and modifying intervals.

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Chord Theory: Intervals Within a Chord - Practice Guide

Let's learn an exercise that uses those two note forms to build another melody. This will help you understand how these two note shapes fit into chords. Then, like usual, we practice.

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Chord Theory: Parallel Major and Minor Intervals

Dave is going to start breaking down two note forms into intervals, and specifically what makes intervals major or minor.

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Chord Theory: Parallel Major and Minor Intervals - Practice Guide

Now Dave with show you an exercise that uses two note chords that use voice leading and chromaticism to outline a descending melody, and we practice together.

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Dominant 7th Chords

Let's talk about seven chords, or dominant chords, which that use the flatted seven scale tone.

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Dominant 7th Chords - Practice Guide

This Dominant 7th exercise uses scale tones and chords to explore the relationship between the scale and the dominant sound, and how it pushes to resolve.

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Major 7th Chords

Dave shows you a major 7th chord and shows you how it relates to the dominant, or flat 7th, sound. We then explore some shapes up and down the neck.

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Major 7th Chords - Practice Guide

Now let's try an exercise that explores this major 7th tonality and how it can be used to lead the chord progression into interesting places outside of the key.

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Minor 7th Chords

Let's explore the minor 7th sound, and learn the various shapes we can use access to this sound all over the neck.

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Minor 7th Chords - Practice Guide

Dave is going to show you an exercise that uses several minor 7th shapes. As usual, we then practice together.

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Ninth Chords and Upper Extensions

Once we establish the 7th chord, we can add scale tones above the seven to create more chord colors. In this lesson, Dave explores nine and eleven chords and some of the main shapes.

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Ninth Chords and Upper Extensions - Practice Guide

This exercise explores nine and eleven chords, exploring how they can be used to create voice leading and how some tones are implied by context. Then we practice.

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Diminished Chords

Common to Jazz, diminished chords are very dissonant but also have a very strong drive to resolve. Dave shows you various diminished shapes in this lesson.

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Diminished Chords - Practice Guide

This diminished exercise is fingerpicked, for a different kind of challenge. But using our fingers allows us to voice lead our chords in a more interesting way.

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Chromatic Progressions

If we include all of the notes in the scale, not just the diatonic ones, this is referred to as a chromatic progression. In this lesson we explore using voice leading and chromaticism together.

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Chromatic Progressions - Practice Guide

This final exercise brings together all of the concepts we have discussed in this series and ties them together with chromaticism.

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