Step 6: Two Chord Songs
You’ll find more two chord songs in Step 6, where Bernadette takes us through some techniques to switch between chords. She says “If you put your mind on the next chord, you’ll be able to switch on time”. It is encouraged to spend some time on this step, maybe pause the video and take time to practice. Switching between two chords can be tricky at first, and it’s important to work on that until it becomes muscle memory!
Experienced players are able to switch between chords fast enough not to lose their place. Accompanying yourself singing familiar songs with two chords is an excellent way to practice switching between two chords because you know when you’re not switching fast enough.
- A good way to approach a new song is to play one down stroke for each chord the first time around. This way, you can “hear“ the chord ring while you focus on the melody (the notes of the lyrics).
- When the next chord appears, do another down stroke. Listen to this change in harmony.
- If you forget to change the chord, you may notice that the notes you are singing don’t quite fit in with the chord you are playing.
- After familiarizing yourself with the chord changes, try the second time with single downstrokes on each beat. For instance, if there are four beats before the next chord appears, do four down strokes, one on each beat.
Now that you know F, C, and C7, you are ready to tackle two-chord songs. Most nursery rhymes use the two chords of F and C.
exercise 18: switch between F and C
- Try playing F and C7. Which is more comfortable for you: F and C or F and C7?
- Apply down strokes and up strokes of previous exercises. Get comfortable switching between the two.
The Appendix (appendix available by purchasing full guide) lists many two chord songs. You can look up the lyrics and song sheets on the Internet. For the purposes of illustration, we show one of the most well-known songs to apply these two chords. Later on, you can replace F and C with other chords that you learn.
exercise 19: “he’s got the whole world in his hands“
1. Welcome to your first two-chord song.
2. The pitch of the first word “He” falls on a C. Try to sing that pitch by plucking the open C-string.
3. To begin, count 1, 2, 3, sing “He’s” and on count 4, sing “got the.”
4. On the next count of 1, play the F chord and sing “whole” as follows.
Everytime you sing “whole” switch to the other chord
By the time you get to the last word in the verse, you’re ready to switch to the F chord.
exercise 20: accents
Now try this song again, replacing the accented single downstrokes in counts 2 and 4 with a down up: DU. The right hand repeats the strum pattern of d- DU d- DU throughout
exercise 21: C7 chord
1. Try this song again, replacing C with C7 chord.
2. Notice that each subsequent verse repeats the first sentence three times and ends with “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”
3. The song ends with the first verse. In the format below, play the chord at the same time as the syllable it precedes.
He’s got the [F] whole world in His hands
He’s got the [C7] whole wide world in His hands He’s got the [F] whole wide world in His hands He’s got the [C7] whole world in His [F] hands
He’s got the [ …] little bitty baby in His hands
He’s got my [ …] brothers and my sisters in His hands
He’s got the [ … ] wind and the rain in His hands
He’s got the [ …] sun and the moon in His hands
He’s got [ ] everybody here now in His hands …
He’s got the [ ] whole world in His hands
exercise 22: more two chord songs
- Visit the Appendix and choose the nursery rhymes and other two-chord songs that you recognize and know well.
- Start with the F chord and switch to the C or C7 chord. This is an excellent exercise to get you switch between these two essential chords.
- Start with down strokes only. When you get more comfortable, add accents, substitute the down stroke with a pair of down and up strokes.
Once you are fluid in switching between these chords, you are ready to tackle the next important and frequently used chords, requiring two fingers on the same fret!