The recitals are the best time of the year every time they come around. Not only do we get to enjoy great music, but we also get to watch the growth of each participant! A good concert, with a great community of people. What more could you want?
Our recitals happen twice per year, once in the Spring and once in the Fall. If you’d like to perform on one, let your teacher know!
In this article, I’m going to discuss some basic chord shapes on the guitar in open position and show you how to turn them into movable chord forms. It is recommended that you have a basic understanding of open chords and are able to switch between them fluidly before trying the methods discussed below.
What is a moveable chord form anyway?
A movable chord form is a chord played with no open strings, that can be moved up and down the neck. You will maintain the basic shape of the chord no matter where you play it. However, the letter name of the chord will change as you move (the terms chord “form” and chord “shape will be used interchangeably throughout this article). It is important to know the root note of the chord so you can determine what chord you’re actually playing as you move the form. Knowing the notes on the guitar will help you.
The most popular moveable chord forms are often referred to as “barre chords” on the guitar, because they require you to create a “barre” across all six strings with the 1st finger on your fretting hand. Your first finger is essentially acting as a capo, so that you can move chord shapes up and down the neck freely. If you’re not used to barring with your 1st finger, this can be difficult in the beginning, but stick with it, and soon your barre chords will sound just as good as if you were playing with a capo! Here are some technique exercises that will help you stretch and strengthen your fingers to make playing barre chords easier. You can also read my article on fretting hand techniqueto supplement the exercises.
What Chord Forms Can I Move Around the Neck?
Well, the real answer is all of them! However, we’re going to start with some of the basic major chord shapes, because they are the theoretical foundation for every other chord. The five shapes that we’ll discuss in this article are often referred to as the CAGED chords, named after the chords that these shapes make in the open position.
The most popular movable chord shape is the E shape, so we’ll start there for the purposes of this article.
Let’s Start Moving Some Chords Around!
Here is the basic E major chord shape in the open position, the one that we all know and love with the standard fingering:
The key to turning an open chord form into a movable chord form is to first learn how to play the chord in the open position without using your 1st finger. We have to free up your 1st finger in order to create the barre that will enable you to move the chord shape up and down the neck.
Here is the same E major chord with a different fingering which frees up your 1st finger:
Now that your first finger is freed up, you’re ready to turn this shape into a movable chord form! Barre your first finger behind the nut of the guitar by laying your entire 1st finger across all six strings. This will give you a sense of how this chord shape will feel to play once you move it. Now slide everything up one fret and you get an F chord shown below:
It is important to know that the lowest root of this shape is located on the low E string. So when you’re in the open position it creates an E major chord (the letter name of the chord is always named after the root note). Because E and F are on half step away from each other, when you move the shape up a half step, the same chord form becomes an F major chord. If this is confusing to you, please read this article on the musical alphabet and how it can be applied to guitar.
Continuing Up the Neck
Let’s move this same shape up the neck one more time. The F major chord is in first position with it’s root on the F note located on the first fret of the low E string. If you move up a whole step to the third position, then the root changes to a G, making the new chord a G major.
This can be continued all the way up the neck, until the notes start to repeat at the 12th fret. In this way, you can play all 12 major chords with the same chord form! Knowing how to play movable chord forms on the guitar will open up a whole new world of possibilities playing all over the neck, instead of just staying in the open position. Knowing how and when to use these chord forms will also help you begin to understand the fretboard and it will serve as the foundation to learning your pentatonic scales and basic music theory on the guitar.
In the next article, we’ll talk about how to do this with the other four major forms in the CAGED system.
Our seasonal recitals are a great way for students to get an opportunity to perform for friends and family! It’s also great for friends and family to get a chance to see the progress they’ve made since last time, whether they are 6 years old or 60 years old. Check out this video offering up highlights of every students performance from our Spring 2018 recital at the Ethical Society of Philadelphia!
Taking lessons and practicing is something that all musicians have to spend most of their time doing, but it all pays off at the performance. Just this December we returned to the Ethical Society of Philadelphia for our largest recital yet. We featured students on piano, violin, cello, saxophone, voice, and guitar for a fantastic afternoon of music making. Our recitals provide our students with the opportunity to show off their skills to friends and family alike. Not only is it a great time for everyone involved, but it’s a crucial experience for becoming a well-rounded musician.
The wide diversity of genres and styles reflects the amazing diversity and talent of all of our students. From Beethoven and Saint-Saëns to The Beatles and Coldplay, enjoy this musical cross-section of our Philly Music Lessons family. We’re so glad to have seen so many people at our recital this past fall, but in case you missed it, here’s a little something to give you an idea of how talented our students are!
Check out Phil playing “Lagrima” and “Marieta”, by Francisco Tarrega. Phil studied classical guitar at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and is one of our advanced guitar teachers at Philly Music Lessons. He also teaches rock, pop, and production.
Our Spring drum class (Rhythm and Beats), our Ukulele Class, and our Music Exploration Class have sadly ended for the season. But its not quite over yet! Students of our drum class, along with those taking private music lessons, will perform for our Spring 2016 Recital, starting at 1:30 PM, this Saturday, May 14th. Come on out and see what we’ve been doing over here at Philly Music Lessons! Visit us at the Ethical Society on Rittenhouse Square for an afternoon of violin, voila, voice, piano, guitar, and more. This recital is open to the public and costs $5 per person above the age of 12 (students attend FREE).
We wanted to show prospective students what their first year of lessons might look like. Our guitar teachers have individual approaches, and books are only portion of what goes on. However, books are a great foundational tool where progress can be easily observed, and they provide a good way to show a range of beginner skills. We took a look at one of the most common beginner guitar books students might encounter (Mel Bay’s Modern Guitar Method 1) and made video samples of various stages. This Mel Bay book, which can be used for both teens and adults, teaches modern guitar method – a good basis for rock, blues, and jazz (classical method involves its own separate techniques).
This video features the last song in the book, “Southern Fried”(page 47). With a steady amount of practice, students might expect to complete this first book in about 6 months – so this is what you’ll be playing!
As the final piece of music, “Southern Fried” follows many songs, exercises, diagrams, and practice rituals for guitar, all of which slowly build skills to the level exhibited. The content of this beginner book includes an introduction to proper form, musical notation explanations (strokes of the pick, time signatures, the staff, and the notes themselves, etc.), basic tuning methods, beginner duets, chords in various keys, and chromatics. Stay tuned for more samples!
Philly Music Lessons at the Ethical Society
Fall Recital 2015
November 21st, 1 PM
It’s become somewhat of a tradition to have our Fall recital on Rittenhouse Square. The Philly trees have ushered in the Fall, and the park is starting to show signs of the holidays by the end of November. This will be our first recital at the Ethical Society. Equipped with a stage and abundant space for an audience, we’re excited to bring families and teachers into a new venue to support the accomplishments of our students.
The show is a great way for students of all ages to see various skill levels in action, and to put their practice into context. The project oriented learning required for recital performance will no doubt push participating students to higher levels. For this reason, recitals are something we encourage all students to consider, no matter their age or reason for taking lessons. In the past, Philly Music Lessons recitals have embraced true beginners to advanced students studying anything from classical music to pop composition. Thus, our recitals are often diverse and present a wide range of musical styles.
Join us for our Fall 2015 student recital at the Ethical Society this November:
Hey there, Neema! Welcoming you to our wonderful collection of guitar teachers at Philly Music Lessons.
With interests in blues, jazz, and rock, Neema teaches guitar lessons at Philly Music Lessons. He is also a great teacher for piano, bass, and drums, having a solid, well-rounded musical background. Currently, Neema is pursuing a degree in guitar performance from The University of the Arts. You can check out Neema playing a piece on electric guitar, following the short bio and interview below:
I teach Guitar, Piano, Bass and Drums. My first musical experience was singing, then playing hand drums while I was young. I have formal training in guitar from University of Houston and Berklee College of Music after high school. I am currently studying guitar performance at The University of the Arts. I have very many goals for my life and one of them is to continue teaching music. I have been teaching for 4 years now, and I consider myself to be a professional educator. My strength as a teacher is to quickly identify how the student needs to learn to best show him or her the steps to success. I also have experience with group lessons in guitar and piano. I love to teach songs, riffs, scales, proper technique, proper theory, and how to get the most out of your practice. It is very important to play music everyday and to have discipline in your practice. Recording yourself, listening back, and planning what to do for the next day are all good practice habits. I practice jazz and classical guitar at least 3 hours a day.
When did you begin playing guitar, and why?
I first started to play the guitar on September 1, 2008. I’m from Houston Tx, and when Hurricane Ike landed ashore, I was safely in College Station Tx at a friends house. He had a guitar, and I played a Cold Play song. I always wanted to learn to play the guitar, and I did!
What are your personal goals as a musician?
My personal goals are to perform my own songs with a band, be a successful song writer and performer and to become a top entertainer!
Do you have a memory of a time when a music concert or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
The first time I had a click that maybe music and sound could be the story of my life was when I was a kid singing a song on the radio and my brother told me I sounded exactly like the lead singer.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) or current teachers?
The piece of advice that stuck would have to be “play that tune all day long.”
Whats your most challenging musical moment?
The first time I picked up the guitar. And the hardest thing will be the next thing I play, because I am always trying to challenge myself.
What is your biggest musical achievement?
Music itself is a reward, so just the act of playing music is an achievement for me.
Favorite thing about teaching?
Teaching is always earning me experience with new people with different backgrounds. It’s rewarding to teach music, to talk about music and always to play music.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Many people think they can’t play music, like its something out of reach. I would like to share with those people that they can and should learn music. It expands the mind, you become smarter, and even begin to solve life’s most difficult problems better.
Currently I am looking for a band and I’m writing my own songs and lyrics.
Meet Jenn Amell. Jenn teaches guitar and piano to beginner and intermediate students. Her guitar focus is on pop, rock, and punk. On piano, Jenn specializes in teaching classical, but also loves working with pop music and show tunes. An excellent teacher for kids, she can bring a beginner through basic piano technique, introducing them to classical fundamentals. Kids who have an interest in playing pop, rock, or punk can explore chord progressions, strumming patterns, finger plucking, and more. Jenn also teaches adults who are at the beginner to intermediate level, offering instruction for playing pop music, as well as classical.
Read more about Jenn in her bio and the interview below:
I am a piano/guitar teacher. For the last fourteen years, I have been playing piano, as well as guitar for the past nine. Music is a chord struck deep in the heart, and it is a special passion of mine to pass on the skills necessary to experience such a visceral medium. Playing an instrument is one of the greatest meditative practices. On top of that, it stirs the brain and body into healthy action, allowing for better coordination and muscle memory.
Some of my best experiences have come from playing music, whether in a room full of friends singing and banging on drums, or alone strumming on the guitar. I have been fortunate enough to work with some great musicians in the Main Line and Philly areas including Nicholas Brower of Good Shirt Productions and fellow Philly Music Lessons teacher, Jennifer Pague, of Vita and the Woolf. Additionally, I also have an affinity for punk music and have put together a small lo-fi EP (Distant Milk) of ambient punk for my project, ‘Future Seer’.
Via all these good musical experiences, I have developed a teaching strategy that focuses on equal parts theory and improvisation. I mostly teach piano in a classical style, but would love to work with those who want to play pop or show tunes. As for guitar, my experience lies in rock, pop, and punk music, with a strong emphasis on strumming patterns and chord progressions. I accept students of any age from beginner to intermediate levels.
When did you begin playing piano/guitar, and why?: I began playing piano at age eleven under the tutelage of Janet Ables. My mother inherited an upright player piano from her father and I can remember sitting at its keys and plunking out Chopsticks or The Spinning Song. When I showed an affinity for the piano, my mother decided to get me lessons, which continued throughout middle school and high school. As for guitar, I was first introduced at age fifteen by my church’s youth group, the leader of which taught me some chords and let me play on the worship team. I think I gravitated toward piano and guitar because of the therapy it offered. Playing either instrument calmed me then and continues to do the same now.
What are your personal goals as a musician?: Music has always been a kinetic, visceral experience for me. It makes me happy, and because of that, it is a compulsion— in the best way. So, I’d say my personal goals involve playing for my own enjoyment and passing on any knowledge I’ve gained to others who want to experience that same happiness and compulsion.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?: I can definitely remember times when the piano or guitar mystified me. How did they work? How could others make them sound so beautiful? I’m sure the same feeling came from learning a song on the piano, but I specifically remember learning my first chord (G) on the guitar. I had a feeling like, “Oh, so that’s how it’s done!”. Although the mechanics of playing either instrument become more knowable, music itself still holds a very exciting mystery.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?: My mom and I often talk about the symbiosis between all the artistic mediums. I love literature (having studied it in university) and have found many striking similarities between music and writing. One particular passage really inspired to me from Anne-Marie Macdonald’s novel, Fall On Your Knees. In the scene, she is describing an opera singer:
“It’s nothing to do with the words, which are in a foreign language, or the story, which most people don’t know. It’s because a real and beautiful voice delicately rends the chest, discovers the heart, and holds it beating against a stainless edge until you long to be pierced utterly. For the voice is everything you do not remember. Everything you should not be able to live without, and yet, tragically, do.”
I also love Brian Eno, he’s full of good advice.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?: Oh, I have them all the time! Music is supposed to be challenging, otherwise it wouldn’t be worthwhile.
What is your biggest musical achievement?: I guess completing my EP for Future Seer was my biggest musical achievement. It was super fun and I hope to do another one soon. I am also so happy to be in any way involved with Vita and the Woolf. They’re a great local Philly band reaching for high heights.
Favorite thing about teaching?: I love teaching children, especially when they put two musical concepts together and finally understand them. Their smiles are genuine and you know that something unlocked in their brains.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?: My best advice is twofold: 1. Be patient. 2. Practice as much as you can.
Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any): Distant Milk, Future Seer (2015) – solo project including piano, synth, guitar, vocals and audio production.