Playing Along With Your Favorite Songs On Guitar Made Easy

Playing Along With Your Favorite Songs On Guitar Made Easy

How To Read Guitar Chords With Lyrics

Are you tired of feeling frustrated when trying to learn your favourite songs on guitar? Do you find it confusing when you search for chords, and all you get is lyric sheets with chords on top?

If you have no idea when or how to play those chords, don't worry. Today's lesson is just for you!

After this lesson, you'll be able to strum along your favourite songs by:
- Recognising when/how many chord switches are happening.
- Recognising how many beats/measures each chord is filling.
- Applying strumming patterns that fit the song.

And what better way to practice than by learning two iconic songs - Yellow by Coldplay and Imagine by John Lennon. Grab your guitar, and let's jump right in!

Step 1: Listen For Chord Switches

We are not trying to guess the chords by ear here; that's another lesson for another day.

Instead, listen to the song carefully and take note of the following:
- When the chords come in.
- How many times are the chords changing.
- Any rhythmic patterns. (optional)

For Yellow, what I really want to focus on is the part where Chris Martins starts singing, there are 3 different chords being played, and the chords come in right before the singing starts.

Refer to minute @2:15 of the video lesson for the demonstration.

For Imagine, there's a cycle or 3 different chords that keeps repeating.

Check out minute @6:34 for a demonstration.

Step 2: Refer Back To The Chord Sheet

Here we can check out what chords are being used and confirm the number of switches from step 1.

For Yellow the chords are G, D, and C.
Note: I'm going to put a capo on 4 here and just play open chords for the sake of simplicity, but if you feel like this is too easy for you then by all means you can play the progression using any chord shapes you know.

On the other hand, for Imagine, the chords are C, Cmaj7, and F.

Step 3: Play Along With The Song

While referring to the notes taken from step 1 and the chord + lyrics sheet, we're going to attempt to play along with the song.

For Yellow, if you look at the chords + lyrics sheet, even if you have no idea what's going on, you can see that the D chord is between the ''for'' and the ''you'' meaning that's where the chord switch happens.

Start by playing 1 strum for every beat and count how many strums you play before switching to your next chord. So in our case, 8 strums = 2 measures of each chord.

Check out min @3:20 for a quick demonstration.

If you do the same thing for Imagine, you realize you have:
- 3 strums of C
- 1 Strum of Cmaj7
- 4 Strums of F

Meaning in general, we have 1 measure of the C chord with a small variation on the last beat, followed by 1 measure of the F chord for this song.

Check out min @7:11 for a quick demonstration.

Step 4: Get Creative With The Chords

Now that we know the general structure of the chords of the song, we're not going to keep playing down strums all the time. This is where things get really fun!

Here are some Ideas to elevate the chord progression:

1- Apply any strumming pattern you know to the chord progression of the song or create your own. Check out my lesson on how to create endless strumming patterns on the fly and never have to memorize one ever again.

2- Feel free to experiment with the chords of the song, add some variations:
- Mix in C and Cmaj7.
- Use suspended chords.

Check out min @4:10 for the application on Yellow and @8:39 for Imagine.

3- In Imagine, if you listen closely to what the piano is playing, you notice it's playing 8th notes.

We can emulate that by:
- Playing 2 strums for every beat.
- Switching to fingerstyle and alternating between playing the base and the rest of the chord.

Check out min @8:06 for a quick demonstration.

4- You can also switch between arpeggiating the chords of the verse and full blown strumming for the chords of the chorus with lots of dynamics.

Doing this will make you sound less boring when playing the chords of the song or even jamming with others. For a more in depth guide on how to grab peoples' attention with your strumming pattern check this lesson out!

Check out min @6:35 for a quick demonstration.

The key takeaway here is that as long as you play the correct amount of beats for each chord and switch on time, respecting the song's chord structure, you can do whatever you want in between.

Final Words
By following these simple steps, we were able to play along with the songs by solely relying on the chord+lyrics sheet and using your ears to listen to the song.

Now it's time for you to try it out with your favorite songs. As long as you choose songs that mainly use strumming patterns. Don't go for songs that have lots of riffs in them.

Remember to respect the song's chord structure, but don't be afraid to get creative with variations and dynamics. The possibilities are endless, so have fun exploring and experimenting with your own unique style.

Are you struggling to learn chords? Do you feel like your strumming patterns are boring and repetitive? Do you want someone to guide you and take the guess work out of learning guitar? Check out our premium guitar training program "guitar elevation'', and take your guitar playing to the next level!

Author: Jack Haddad
Jack Haddad is an expert Guitar educator and teacher and has been helping guitarists, through his innovative methods, get incredible results on the guitar, whether they want to jam with friends or rock out on the big stage.

You can find out more about Jack Haddad's teaching here:
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