Chord Freedom

To kick off Lesson 11, we’re going to be exploring some of the open chords that you’re already familiar with. The goal here is to remove whatever fear you may have around breaking away from the norm and breaking the rules! I have actually done a series called “The Chord Shape Explorer” where I dive deep into the five chord shapes on the guitar. That’s more for Grade 3 students, though. Seeing as to how you all are currently in Grade 2, consider this a sort of chord explorer primer.

The thing that is absolutely key to all of this is that you should be using your ears when playing chords - not your eyes, nor your mind! Up to this point, we’ve learned very specific chords, how to play them, where to play them, and when to play them. Of course, the reality of creating music is that it’s a lot freer than that. Never forget - playing a musical instrument is a creative endeavour!

Exploring The D Chord

Play a D chord on your guitar. By now, you must be very familiar with the sound, but we’re going to switch it up a bit.

Try pulling one finger off of the strings at a time. Start with the 1st finger. Strum the D chord minus the 1st finger and really listen to the difference. Does it still sound like a D chord? What’s different about it? What mood or emotion does it evoke? Could you possibly use it as a substitute for a D chord in a song?

Do the same for each finger in the chord and take notice of which ones sound good to you! You may even try closing your eyes while doing this to help you hear better without focusing too much on what your fingers are doing.

Another thing you can try is moving one finger up or down a fret. You can even try moving the whole chord shape up or down on the fretboard. The reality is that you can more or less do whatever you want as long as it sounds good to you! If it sounds good, it is good.

Repeat this process with some other chords. Have fun with it, and maybe even try writing a short riff based on the new chords and sounds you’ve discovered.

It’s not too early to get started with this! Don’t think of this as an exercise, either - this is so much bigger than that. This is about breaking out of whatever creative shackles you may have knowingly or unknowingly placed on yourself. It’s about developing your own musical personality and creative identity. You’re exploring the chords, but you’re also exploring YOU!


Lesson 11: Sus Fingerstyle