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Storm Stenvold >> Holiday Guitar >>
Lesson Subject: Holiday Guitar
What you learn: What Child Is This
Teacher: Storm Stenvold

Lesson Sample

Storm: Welcome to the 'Holiday Guitar' series. In this series I will arrange some familiar holiday songs into various styles like folk, country, jazz, and classical. Some of the arrangements are simple, while others are more complex. This lesson example is 'What Child is This' which is a traditional Christmas tune that I've arranged into a folk accompaniment style.  The focus for this lesson is on fingestyle accompaniment patterns. Later I will show an easy example of using 'chord melodies' that allow you to play a solo rendition of the tune with harmony and melody simultaneously.

Storm: The song starts with four familiar chords Em, D, B7 & G.

Song Chords

Storm: The picking patterns I've presented can add life and variety to simple progressions that often make up the harmony of holiday tunes. Here is the melody of the tune in two parts.

Storm: And part B.

Storm: It's always good to know the melody on your instrument, even if you are singing or accompanying other instruments. Here are two accompaniment patterns that serve as a basis for our right hand technique.

Fingerstyle Arpeggio

The segment you just played is actually a broken chord or 'arpeggio' pattern. It fits nicely over the E minor chord and 3/4 time signature used in this song. It is important to setup your right hand fingers using the thumb on the bass strings (E, A, D) and the index, middle, and ring fingers devoted to the higher single strings (E, B, G). Here is a loop of the first pattern. 

Fingerstyle Arpeggio Pattern Loop

Right Hand Technique

Storm: Fingerstyle picking can have an endless amount of individual patterns. I would suggest using this combination for this lesson: thumb + index, middle & ring finger-per-string. This will help you keep the pattern consistent and repeatable. The fingering of the right hand allows you to play more than one note at a time or strum several strings at the same time as well.

Fingerstyle Chord Techniques

Storm: You can play some of the patterns with a pick as well.

glpaulguy: Teach, what is the best way to improve fingerstyle? Practice with a metronome?

A metronome will help with almost every aspect of your technique. Like most things, just keep practicing. Make sure you lose your pick for a week. Here's the next section.

Rhythm Guitar 1

Storm: This 8 bar pattern uses two right hand picking techniques. Notice that the bass note moves in bars 5-8 while playing the same chord. A good rule of 'thumb' is to play the root note and then move to the 4th string. If the root note is on the 4th string you then move to the 5th string. This technique is called an alternating bass pattern.

Rhythm Guitar 2

Here's a more complex eighth note arpeggio pattern. The idea here is to build the intensity of the song as you play through the verses. You start with simpler picking pattern and build to the more complex patterns later in the song. You can mix and match picking patterns as you gain more experience, we will explore more techniques later in this lesson.

Rhythm Guitar 3

Rhythm Guitar 4

Rhythm Guitar 4 Left hand

Here I introduce the G major chord and then D major. You might notice I use a 'pinch' technique where the thumb and finger (or fingers) play at the same time. In bars 3-4 the D chord slides from one D form to another.

Rhythm Guitar 5

Here's another example of using two different chord forms, but this time you use E minor. You also 'rake' or 'drag' the thumb while playing consecutive notes on the B7.

Storm: Here's an example of a four finger 'pinch,' this technique is very common classical guitar.

Rhythm Guitar 7

Notice the harmonics played in the last bar. You can play harmonics by lightly touching the strings above the 12th fret then striking the notes.

Storm: In the next three examples I've arranged the melody using chords underneath each bar. This technique will prep you for the jazz chord melodies I will show you later in this lesson series.

Storm: We now move to the second barre at the 8th fret, this technique is called a 'hinge barre', where your finger plays using the fingertip while it lays down to sound a note.

Storm: In this segment we are playing simple triads below the melody notes on the 2nd string. In the next four bars you use the same technique as example 9 as well.

Storm: OK start practicing and make this a holiday season to remember. You might also check out my arrangement of this tune, also known as 'Greensleeves', in my Classical Guitar series as well. Remember, playing for the family reminds them that guitars make great gifts!

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