Survival Guitar

Survival Guitar

Survival Guitar is a method of playing and listening that allows the guitarist to walk into new situations and make great-sounding music even if they aren’t sure of the songs to be played. In more structured situations, it allows the guitarist to discover his or her own style and add more expression and interest to their music.

This information is presented in a 10-week course through Meetup. Click here to sign up.

  • Skill level: Beginner and intermediate
  • Instruments: Guitar (acoustic and electric)
  • Amplification: Electric players should bring small amps
  • Cost: Suggested donation of $10.00 / person per session

Course Outline

Week 1

  • What is Survival Guitar?
  • Review of basic chords Click here to see the handout (in PDF format)
    • C Major, C7
    • A Major, A minor, A7
    • G Major, G7
    • E Major, E minor, E7
    • D Major, D minor, D7
  • Chord transitions
  • Terminology
  • Some Easy Songs – Visit our Chordie songbook
    1. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
    2. Heart of Gold
    3. Wagon Wheel
    4. Whip My Hair – Watch a video
    5. Some generic blues song

Week 2 – Rhythm

  • Keeping time
  • Strumming patterns & variations
  • Picking up the beat
  • Time Signatures & what they mean
  • Songs
    1. Horse With No Name
    2. Margaritaville
    3. Mary Jane’s Last Dance

Week 3 – Theory & Transposing

  • Scales & numbers
  • Intervals
  • Playing the root instead of a chord
  • Transposing
  • Songs – Students choose (bring your simple songs!)

Week 4 – Chords 1

  • What is a chord?
  • Major vs. minor
  • Chord shapes & personalities
  • Capo is not a dirty word
  • Chords in a scale
  • Key signatures
  • Songs
    1. All the Pretty Little Horses
    2. Rockin’ in the Free World
    3. Hey Joe
    4. Angel From Montgomery

Week 5 – From the Bottom

  • Walking bass lines
  • Roots vs. chords
  • Low voice vs. high voice
  • Inversions & slash chords
  • Tryin’ out the bass
  • Songs
    1. Little Wing
    2. Mary Jane’s Last Dance
    3. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
    4. Chain Gang

Week 6 – Chords 2

  • Variations & voicings
  • Harmonies
  • Arpeggios
  • Songs
    1. Wagon Wheel
    2. Angel From Montgomery
    3. Brown-Eyed Girl
    4. Ripple
    5. The Cat Came Back

Week 7 – Ensemble playing

  • Etiquette, or How To Get Asked Back
  • Finding a place to fit in
  • Groups with mixed skill levels
  • Finding your own style
  • Emulation vs. imitation
  • Building confidence
  • Dynamics
  • Communication
  • Common progressions
  • Anchor notes
  • Playing with singers
  • Songs – Song Circle (bring a song to share with the group)

Week 8 – Soloing

  • What makes a solo
  • Which scales to use
  • Length & location
  • What to play
  • Communication
  • Songs
    1. Wagon Wheel
    2. Little Wing
    3. All the Pretty Little Horses
    4. For What It’s Worth
    5. Hey Joe
    6. Whip My Hair
    7. Mary Jane’s Last Dance
    8. Blues soloing

Week 9 – Stump the Band
Students will be asked to identify various elements of pieces of music without any prior knowledge of those pieces. We will discuss decoding methods and tools to help “fake it” until more information becomes available.

Week 10 – We Be Jammin’
This session brings it all together. We will play a lot of songs, jam on some grooves, and generally make some fantastic music. This session may feature special guest musicians and possibly a special venue (details TBA).